Bush’s cabinet was worth $250 million. So far, Trump’s cabinet is worth over $11 billion, though I’ve seen estimates that put it closer to $14 billion.
The talking point for this is that you want highly successful people on your team. After all, this proves they accomplished a lot in their life, right? I went and analyzed each pick and this is what I was able to put together.
Pence: Born middle class
Mnuchin: Born wealthy
Jeff Sessions: Born middle class
Rex Tillerson: Born middle class
James Mattis: Born middle class
Ryan Zinke: Born middle class
Wilber Ross: Born wealthy
Andrew Puzder: Born middle class
Tom Price: Born middle class
Ben Carson: Born middle class
Elaine Chao: Born rich (immigrant)
Rick Perry: Born middle class
Betsy DeVos: Born rich
John F. Kelly: Born … middle class?
Reince Priebus: Born middle class?
Nikki Haley: Probably upper class? (immigrant)
Scott Pruitt: Born … middle class?
Mick Mulvaney: Middle class?
Linda McMahon: Middle class?
A few things jumped out when I analyzed it this way. First, there are two women from immigrant families. There are also a lot of people with ties to the military, though that’s been well reported. There are also a lot of people known for their heated criticisms of government, but that’s hardly surprising. The Republican party believes government should be small. So they work towards that.
As a liberal, that sounds like wanting your R&D team to be small, or your number of investments to be small. You need to spend money to make money. So your schools need to be funded well to compete in a global economy. Your military needs to be funded well to protect your country. Your scientists need to be funded well to discover ways to advance mankind, whether curing cancer, landing on the moon, or discovering how to make a waterproof phone. Liberals believe in investing in things because there are some things that only the government can do. No coalition of businesses can get there.
The GOP retort is that spending is out of control and the government is far too powerful. They believe in “privatizing” everything. Social security, health care, education, everything. To take education as an example, Democrats think schools need more funding so we can compete in a global economy. Many Republicans want to take money out of the schools. It’s a stark contrast.
Betsy DeVos, nominated to lead up education is one of the shining stars of the “get money out of education” movement. She owes the state of Ohio $5.2 million dollars because she was found guilty of campaign spending violations from her PAC set up for this purpose. She’s refused to pay it.
Advocates of charter schools and vouchers argue that failing schools should be held accountable. I think everyone agrees with that statement. But the track record for Betsy DeVos seems pretty bad. The easiest thing to do is criticize. The second easiest thing to do is try a new approach. But the hardest thing, by far, is proving results.
Betsy DeVos in particular and and the entire GOP platform more broadly are a good example of this. They’re great at talking about how bad everything is. They’re great at rhetoric. And the country is increasingly moving to the right on a lot of these topics as a result.
But results? Ones that show up in the numbers? That’s the hard part. That’s where they haven’t been able to prove leadership or success. Their ideas poll poorly and do worse when implemented. Without some new data point, or some angle I haven’t considered, I see a replay of the George W Bush era coming. They’ll try a lot of things, they mostly won’t work, and they’ll be voted out.
But that’s later. We’ve got a lot of things coming before now and then. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll find a way to be successful this time. But I’m not holding my breath.