What’s at Stake
The Secretary of Health and Human Services controls the
following agencies: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Food and Drug
Administration, administers the Affordable Care Act, and grants more money
for medical research than any other agency in the world.
Tom Price, Republican from Georgia, He is an orthopedic
surgeon, and represents one of the healthcare sectors with expensive medical
devices and lucrative profit margins for health systems. Resentful of the 3%
medical device tax his industry pays to fund the Affordable Care Act for
Wants to get rid of Obama Care and replace it with another
insurance based payment system. Questions the value of the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid innovation through Demonstration Projects. He wants to
reduce the footprint of government policy making in healthcare. Though he
wants consumers to shoulder more responsibility for their health care, he
questions the value of performance assessment as a component of government
funding and oversight by government agencies. CMS’s Accountable Care Organization
program has been successful and 31% of 2015 participants received bonuses.
There are 400 healthcare systems participating in this program.
Would he impinge on medical research by eliminating stem
cell research as his predecessor George Bush did?
By defunding CMS, the nation would have no national bully
pulpit to pressure healthcare suppliers, drug companies, and insurance
companies on cost and accountability. Medicare is the most effective tool we
have for making changes in U.S. healthcare with an integrated national
platform. Medicare Shared Savings programs saved the CMS 1.6 million in 2015. (David
Muhlestein, 2016) Would he repeal the Sunshine Act
which requires federal reporting of pharmaceutical industry influence on
universities and medical training to avoid conflicts of interest? (American
Medical Association, 2016) Would he abolish
the successful Accountable Care Organization Program which rewards
health-driven clinical outcomes? He will also eliminate birth control under
Your Air and Water
The Environmental Protection Agency sets standards for air
& water quality, extracts fines from offenders, and litigates as required
for compliance with federal and state laws.
Scott Pruitt, Republican Attorney General from Oklahoma
and former senator, is decidedly not part of the beltway. He will drain the
swamp and poison your well.
The EPA was created by the Nixon Administration and is
responsible for improvements in air and water quality throughout the nation.
Pruitt wants to gut the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts signed by the Obama
Administration. Has pledged to dismantle the EPA and is in the back pocket of
the oil and gas industry. He has been vociferous in his lawsuits against
government regulations. Doesn’t think global warming is an issue. Wants to
get out of the Paris Climate Change Accords, which were signed by 95
Carbon emissions are the greatest contributor to
greenhouse gases causing global warming and the melting of the polar ice
caps. Obama Administration clean air rules force power plants, especially
coal powered ones, to reduce particulate emissions. The act established
standards for emissions but allows flexibility for states to administer.
States have already submitted plans for reaching targets.
The Department of Education sets national standards for education
(No Left Behind and Common Core), provides funding, and enforcement of
Betsy DeVos, former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican
Party, is from
the Amway family of billionaires and has never attended a public school, nor
have her children. She attended Calvin College, a private liberal arts college.
She is the sister of infamous military
defense contractor, Eric Prince, founder of private mercenary group,
Wants to deconstruct the agency and give more responsibilities
to states, counties, and individual districts to set curriculum. She is a
huge supporter of charter schools, which are funded with public funds but
operate like private schools. She advocates a school voucher system where the
government would essentially provide support for private schools. In
Michigan, 80% of the schools are run by private companies. She is does not believe
in recognizing homosexuality.
Current Secretary of Education, John King, Jr, says there
are a lot of charter schools which are doing poorly and are not taking the
steps needed to improve performance. For a vision of what could happen to
primary education in the country, look to the healthcare sector where
competing private interests often increase costs and work against effective
public health improvements.
The Department of the Treasury, oversees revenue collection
through the IRS, and sets standards for currency and financial management for
Steve Mnunchin, former Goldman Saks executive and
Hollywood film financier, is a Wall Street banker insider, who graduated from
No information is available for his position on the
landmark Dodd-Frank Act which created liquidity standards for banks to
prevent the financial collapse of the nation and the world. If the U.S.
government hadn’t bailed out AIG Insurance, General Motors, Fannie Mae,
Freddie Mac, and a host of banks the depression would have been much more
He is well-educated and more liberal than Trump’s Cabinet
picks, but hews from the hedge fund world, which contributed to the 2007
economic collapse of the mortgage banking industry. The question is, will
that experience inform better safeguards or is this a fox-in-the-hen-house
scenario? Investment banks are chaffing to go back to the Wild West of deal making.
The Attorney General of the United States, oversees
the administration of federal laws, court system, and enforcement for anti-trust and civil rights
Jeff Sessions, Attorney General, Republican Senator from
Alabama, and former Attorney General of Alabama. He was rejected by the
Reagan Administration for a federal judicial appointment because of racist
Has a reputation of being anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and
anti-gay (LBGTQ). One of the most conservative members of Congress often at
odds with his own party. Is a supporter of the stop and frisk ethos. Widely considered to have anti-minority
Concerns are; the gerrymandering of redistricting,
potential repeal of the voting rights act, enforcement of election laws, and
actions against those using their first amendment rights for protest and free
Your National Parks
The Secretary of the Interior oversees the vaunted
National Parks system, national forests, and all public lands, including the
Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Ryan Zinke is a Republican freshman senator from Whitefish,
Montana who is a former navy SEAL commander.
One of his most alarming views is he considers climate
change to be unsettled. We don’t know anything about his governance
perspectives. However, at least he is not a beltway insider. Montana has many
tribal lands, including the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Maybe we could swap Zinke for Perry, because I would
rather trust a military officer with protecting our nuclear plants. Concerns
are he will use public lands as private sector resources for industry versus
The Secretary of State is 4th in line to the
presidency and is chief negotiator of foreign policy on behalf of the nation,
also responsible for coordination and security of diplomatic posts. This
person is a foil for the president.
Rex Tillerson, current chief executive of Exxon, is
retiring this month. He has lucrative financial interests in countries which
are considered enemies, including Russia.
Tillerson has a fifteen-year relationship with Putin, czar
of Russia and advocates loosening of economic sanctions. Unlike other Trump
nominees, he favors climate change action, including the carbon cap taxes on
emissions. He also favors supporting the 2015 Paris Accords for Climate
Change Action. He probably would favor the Keystone Pipeline completion.
The far-flung oil and gas interests of Exxon and his personal wealth would be impacted
by actions of the federal government. No one has the potential for more
conflicts of interest except Trump. He would have the ability to push back
against the dogma from uninformed views of other cabinet nominees, especially
on energy and climate issues.
The Secretary of Transportation
oversees highway safety and road construction projects.
Elaine Chao is former head of the Department of Labor and
married to Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell.
One of Trump’s centerpiece platforms is the rebuilding of
America, so Chao will be responsible for contract letting, management, and
other infrastructure requirements.
Chao is perhaps the most experienced member of the cabinet,
as she ran a large government agency under the Bush Administration.
Keeping the Lights
The Secretary of Energy has oversight of the nation’s
nuclear arsenal, also sets policy on utilization of resources to develop and
maintain the nation’s energy grid.
Rick Perry, is the former Texas Governor, failed presidential
candidate, and middling Dancing with the Stars Contestant.
The only qualification Mr. Perry has for energy expertise,
is his support of wind power in his home state. He has no scientific
background and has suggested the Department of Energy could be eliminated.
The current Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz is a nuclear physicist.
Perry wasn’t a strong advocate for Trump so perhaps the
president elect is an advocate of recreational pot as there is no other
explanation for this appointment.