Fifteen dollars an hour: A living wage for many Americans. President-elect Donald Trump just made sure that doesn’t happen.
The news media on Thursday reported that Trump had tapped Andrew Puzder as his secretary of labor. So all the paid-by-the-hour working men and women who voted for Trump hoping he would make America great again, this may still be possible, but on your backs, and definitely (in your cases) for much less than the 15-per-hour you were hoping for.
Understand… people like Donald Trump and Andrew Puzder need others to exploit in order to build Trump’s gold-plated buildings, and in the case of Puzder, serve at his fast-food restaurants. And the less they have to pay you… well, the more they’re going to make. In fact, as has been the case over the years, Donald Trump would rather not pay you at all. Just ask the hundreds of workers Trump has stiffed all over New York and New Jersey.
Puzder, the presumptive labor secretary, is the “chief executive of the company that operates the fast food outlets Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. and an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration,” as reported by The New York Times.
The Times adds that he “has spent his career in the private sector and has opposed efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay, while arguing that large minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers.”
Trump’s other choices
There’s been a pattern established since Trump started naming his choices for the different cabinet positions that need to be filled. In my opinion, they are worrisome.
Let’s take a quick look at some of them:
For starters, there’s Jeff Sessions, who Trump hopes to make his attorney general. This guy would NOT be out of place wearing a white robe and white, sharply pointed hat. In 1986, Ronald Reagan nominated Sessions to be a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. He was not confirmed. In testimony during his confirmation hearing, one lawyer who knew him testified that Sessions had told him that “he thought the KKK was ‘OK until I found out they smoked pot.’” I’ve often thought that this Alabama republican would love to return to the decade of the 1950s when Blacks had a hard time voting.
Then there’s Betsy DeVos for education secretary. DeVos is a known enemy of public schools and has advocated for privatization of the system. She is “one of the architects of Detroit’s charter school system, [and] partly responsible for what even charter advocates acknowledge is the biggest school reform disaster in the country,” wrote Douglas N. Harris in an opinion piece for The New York Times.
For secretary of health and human services is a critic of Obamacare in the U.S. Congress, Rep. Tom Price. An orthopedic surgeon, and chairman of the House Budget Committee, Trump referred to him as “exceptionally qualified to shepherd our commitment to repeal and replace ‘Obamacare’ and bring affordable and accessible health care to every American.” To the more than 20 million Americans with inexpensive health care for the first time in their lives, I say kiss your healthcare bye bye.
Steven Mnuchin was chosen by Trump as his secretary of the treasury. Have you heard of the fox guarding the hen house? Mnuchin worked for 17 years at Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs. And we thought Trump promised to get Wall Street out of the halls of power…
Billionaire Wilbur Ross will head the Department of Commerce as its secretary. He has been described as the “King of Bankruptcy.” I guess I’ll leave it at that.
The military seems to be invading the executive branch, too. Trump appears to have a man-crush on generals. First there’s retired General James Mattis as secretary of defense. There’s General John Kelly as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Lt. General Michael Flynn as national security advisor (not a cabinet-level job; but influential nevertheless).
For CIA director, Trump has tabbed Rep. Mike Pompeo, another member of the House of Representatives. Pompeo supported Marco Rubio during the Republican primary. He is opposed to closing the Guantanamo Military Prison.
Also in trouble if Trump gets his way is the environment. Tabbed for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is Scott Pruitt, currently the state of Oklahoma Attorney General and a critic of the agency. Pruitt has called the EPA an “all-too-powerful agency pursuing an ideological agenda based on what he considers dubious science.”
Ambassador to the United Nations is a person with zero experience in the world of international politics, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Well, she is of Indian descent…
Another strange move was the naming of Dr. Ben Carson, who ran against Trump for the GOP nomination, and who is a retired surgeon, to head Housing and Urban Development. Huh?!
As transportation secretary, Trump named Elaine Chao, who served as labor secretary under George W. Bush. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The same McConnell who led Republicans’ obstructionism during Obama’s eight years.
One last name. Stephen Bannon. He’s not a cabinet member, but probably more influential since he will sit one door away from the president. As senior counsel to the president and chief strategist, Bannon will be in Trump’s ear advising and leading. The man once ran Breitbart News, which under his watch accused President Obama of “importing more hating Muslims”; compared Planned Parenthood’s work to the Holocaust; and called the conservative commentator Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew”.
There are others, but these persons should give you an idea where Trump wants to take us starting in 2017. It doesn’t sound like a happy place, does it?
And wait till I tell you about Trump’s Cuban Americans on his transition team. That’s for another column. I will just add that I think I was totally wrong in my column titled “Claver-Carone: A hollow move simply to appease?”
[In photo at top is vice president-elect Mike Pence shaking hands with Andrew Puzder. In the background is Trump.]