||Trump's Appointment of Several Billionaires to Cabinet Raises Questions
||Monday, December 26, 2016
ICT for MDGs, Institution and HR Management
||Dec 26, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump is spurring controversy by appointing several billionaires to his cabinet, sparking criticism from media and pundits that these industry titans will be on the side of the wealthy and forget about their working class supporters.
Trump shocked the world last month by clinching the White House after the vast majority of pundits, polls and experts predicted he would lose. Trump won mostly with the support of white, working class Americans, many of whom have been left behind in an economy that has not fully recovered from the 2007-2008 economic nose dive.
As the brash businessman prepares to take office, he is busy putting together a cabinet that includes a few billionaires, including now former Exxon CEO and incoming secretary of state Rex Tillerson.
"I think there is some legitimate criticism about billionaires in the cabinet and their views of economic and business policies-especially regulatory protections, market mechanisms and transparency, etc," Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua.
"But for the working class voter, it is worth noting that much of the anger isn't directed at the wealthy per se, but at the professional and political classes... There is still respect for wealthy individuals, including Trump, because they are seen as successes in their fields," he said.
However, others have noted that many in Trump's cabinet, while industry giants, have no diplomatic experience. An argument has ensued in US media over whether those with no experience in government - despite being big names in business - will be successful in their new role.
"I certainly don't want to discount the importance of business experience as part of a cabinet secretary's skill set, and many successful business leaders have been able to make significant reforms and have an outsized impact on government because of their business experience," Mahaffee said.
"Still it is worth noting how these cabinet members will be able to adapt to the slower pace and peculiarities of government, where much more has to be done through consensus and proper procedure rather than the pace they are used to as a business executive," Mahaffee said.
"With regards to Tillerson specifically, I think there is a mindset among the Trump team and Trump supporters that is important to note...In their mindset, traditional diplomats have seemed quite adept at dealing with things like UN General Assemblies, conferences in Paris, and the Geneva cocktail party circuit. However, in the worldview of Trump and his team, global policy is not being driven by these traditional institutions, but by the actions of leaders like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin," he said.
"It is just one part of a greater emphasis by the Trump team on a world where it'll be less about traditional diplomacy and more the transactional relationship between great powers and regional powers," he said.
Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua the problem for Trump is not billionaires in his cabinet but the policies they are proposing.
"Most of the proposals being floated are tilted to the rich. Half of the benefits of his tax cut will accrue to the top one percent. Working people will be surprised they won't get more from him, because he campaigned against the establishment," West said.
"Since his policies are more likely to help the well-to-do than ordinary folks, this will be a rude surprise for people who voted for him. When they realize what he is doing, it will undermine his political support," he said.
Still, Trump has vowed to roll back the avalanche of regulations - more than 600 since President Barack Obama took office - that many believe have stunted economic growth. That, Trump believes, will unleash the power of the US economy and rev up small businesses, enabling them to start hiring again instead of spending many hours and much money on dealing with regulations.
Trump has vowed to cut corporate taxes from the current top rate of 35 percent - the highest in the developed world - to 15 percent. Small businesses would also pay 15 percent, as long as the profits are re-invested into the company.
Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, told Xinhua that being a businessman does not always mean being a great political official.
"There are many examples like Robert McNamara, who saw that their business acumen didn't translate into successful politics," he said, referring to the former secretary of defense who played a major role in escalating the US war in Vietnam.
"It is different," Zelizer said, comparing the two roles. "You are working for an elected government and responsible to an electorate, you are dealing with the political pressures within other countries, and you are not simply making economic decisions," he said.
"Ideology, culture, politics and much more all must be considered," Zelizer said.
West said many of the business people Trump has put on his cabinet have had successful backgrounds and have built tremendous value for their companies.
"The major question about them is will they be effective in government. Many private sector people have difficulty adjusting to government life because it is a very different structure," he said.
"It is harder to get things done because you can't just order people to do things and then see them automatically implemented. That will be a big surprise for many of the corporate leaders," he said.
"The lack of diplomatic experience is a problem because they won't have the experience to resolve diplomatic issues," he said.
"It is different running an international company from dealing with foreign policy. You need to know the right people in government and how to navigate local sensitivities all around the world," he said.