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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Saturday, January 20, 2018

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The man who promised to "drain the swamp" has one of the richest cabinets in modern history

Four times the net worth of President Barack Obama’s cabinet

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet is a club of generals and billionaires.> BNN

His appointees to head four cabinet posts - treasury, commerce, education and transportation departments - have a net worth of at least $8.1 billion — that’s more than four times the net worth of President Barack Obama’s cabinet members in those posts.

Betsy DeVos and Todd Ricketts — nominees for education secretary and deputy commerce secretary - in particular, come from families with deep political connections.

His cabinet nominees and their families have also contributed at least $35 million to federal candidates, party committees, and outside groups just since 2008, ironical since they are all linked to the man who promised to “drain the swamp” by putting political outsiders in his administration.

While many have not had political careers, they’ve used their personal wealth to play an active role in politics and policymaking.

Observers are thus questioning if the "richest Cabinet in history" can have empathy for the working and middle classes.

They are also worried that dominance of generals means that traditional civilian control over the military might be ceded. 

No fewer than three combat-experienced retired Army and Marine leaders, with multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, are on tap for high-level government jobs normally reserved for civilians. Others are entrenched in Trump’s organization as close advisers.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will serve as the president’s national security adviser, and Trump announced retired Marine four-star Gen. James Mattis Thursday night as his secretary of defense. 

In addition, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly is a likely pick to head the Department of Homeland Security.

All three have had high profile military careers.

Trump's main cabinet appointments

Jeff Sessions, a former Senator of Alabama, has been chosen for the position of Attorney General. 

Billionaire Wilbur Ross has been nominated for Secretary of Commerce. 

On the Forbes 400 list, Ross is worth an estimated $2.5 billion, and ranks No. 232 on its list.

The post of Secretary of Health and Human Services has been offered to Tom Price, a six-term congressman from Georgia.

Betsy DeVos, a billionaire native of Michigan, has been offered the office of the Secretary of Education. 

Elaine Chao is nominated to head the Department of Transportation. She has a net worth as high as $36.5 million.

Trump has chosen Steve Mnuchin to head the Department of the Treasury. Mnuchin is a former Goldman-Sachs banker with a stint in Hollywood and is a financer of well-known movies. He is believed to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina is appointed ambassador to the UN, which although not a cabinet position, is highly coveted. 

Ben Carson has been chosen by Trump to oversee one of the government’s main efforts to lift American cities as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, was an early endorser of Trump after ending his own presidential bid.

Evangelicals in Trump’s Cabinet

Many of Trump's cabinet picks are Evangelical Christians, and science and education professionals are worried this could impact the science standard in public schools. 

Trump has repeatedly pledged to end the existing Common Core curricula standards for math and English. 

Critics worry that could open the door to rethinking science standards and lead to the teaching of creationism and Intelligent Design, pseudo-scientific notions about Earth’s origins with little or no support from scientists.

Vice-president elect Mike Pence and Ben Carson are both known creationists.

"Clash of civilizations" world view

The president-elect's cabinet choices indicate at a "clash of civilizations" world view in its approach to foreign policy, which could have damaging effects.

His predecessors and Barack Obama, in particular, insisted that the notion of the “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West only provoked and emboldened extremists.

Trump's picks, so far, indicate that the policy under Obama is set to change. 

Many, such as Mike Pompeo, who will head the CIA, Michael Flynn, the next national security advisor, and Steve Bannon, chief strategist, share Trump’s “clash of civilizations” approach to the Muslim world. 

Their thinking seems to be in line with Trump’s rejection of globalization and the desire to tighten immigration in order to “make America great again.”

Can any nominee be rejected by the Senate?

Republicans only need a simple majority to approve a nominee, and that shouldn't be a problem in most appointments. 

However, Jeff Sessions and Steve Mnuchin are likely to face scrutiny from Democrats during the nominating process.

The Senate Democrats are in no mood to cooperate with Trump over these Cabinet picks, and many are planning to make the confirmation process as difficult as they can.

In addition, James Mattis is technically not eligible to be secretary of defense because federal law requires the post to be assumed by someone who has not served in active duty in the past seven years. Mattis only retired three years ago, so he does not meet that standard.

In order for Mattis to be appointed, Congress must waive this requirement.

And the next secretary of state is…?

As of last week, Trump was reportedly considering Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, former General David Petraeus, and Senator Bob Corker for the job.

Other names that are not being bandied about to lead the State Department are former United Nations ambassador John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, and retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis, according to The New York Times and Politico.

Meanwhile, in a conspiracy theory, Michael Flynn, the son of the president-elect's incoming national security adviser continued to push a fictitious story about a Washington, DC, pizza restaurant on Sunday as police arrested an armed man who said he had come to investigate an online sex trafficking operation operating from the restaurant.

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