BY MATT RICCHIAZZI
President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters say that it is time to boldly roll through Congress with a slew of legislation that jump starts the economy: income tax cuts; lower the corporate tax to 10%; eliminate the tax on repatriating funds from abroad; tax credits for industrial modernization; repeal of major trade agreements; massive infrastructure spending; export-driven foreign policy; cash payments for global security services rendered by the US military; repealing Obamacare; and ending the federal reserve.
His supporters fear that he will be co-opted by the career politicos, lobbyists, and DC power brokers that comprise the establishment that he once railed against. They have a distaste for politicians running the government and a want visionary leadership from far outside Washington’s Beltway. Rather than appointing a cabinet of bureaucrats, they say that he should appoint a cabinet of businessmen. Here is the team that would brand his presidency for the ages:
Jeff Immelt, Secretary of State
The CEO of General Electric manages one of the world’s largest multinational companies — a conglomerate of classic American industrials. Whether building wind turbines or plane engines, Immelt understands American industry and global trade. Putting the CEO of one of America’s most far reaching industrial firms sends a clear signal: that trade will be at the center of his foreign policy. A Trump Doctrine is in the making — one that puts American interests first and predicates political relationships on economic interests.
Jamie Diamon, Secretary of the Treasury
As the CEO of JP Morgan, Diamon has managed America’s largest and most venerable financial institution. He is widely credited or his leadership of the bank, which has profited wildly since the 2008 financial crisis. With an investment banker leading the Treasury Department, Trump is putting a deal maker at the helm of the national coffers. Diamon is a reputable executive who was considered a leading contender for Treasury Secretary for years. An expert will be needed to manage the nation’s unprecedented level of debt, the administration’s plan for sweeping tax reforms, massive infrastructure spending, military modernization, and the replacement of the Affordable Care Act.
Alan Mulally, Secretary of Defense
He has served as CEO of both Boeing and Ford — two massive multinational firms with some of the most complicated manufacturing, supply chain, and distribution operations in the world. He is widely credited as an industrial engineering and operations management expert who has excelled in the world’s two most logistically complex industries: aerospace and automobiles. The pick would send a clear message: that the Trump administration will manage the unweildy Defense Department with industrial precision. Mulally would be tasked with a broad military modernization, renegotiating deployments to allied host nations, and improving the efficiency and performance of a vast military apparatus.
Preet Bharara, Attorney General
As the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara has been a pioneering prosecutor of public corruption cases involving elected officials, state employees, and government contractors. Bharara has inspired confidence with his uncharacteristic independence as a federal prosecutor. Once a staffer to Senator Chuck Schumer, who will be the Senate Minority Leader in the coming session, Bharara is quietly considering a bid for Governor of New York.
Rudy Guiliani, Secretary of Homeland Security
Guiliani was an early and vocal backer of Trump, appearing on television as a campaign surrogate more frequently than any other. Guiliani served as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York before he became of Mayor of New York City for two terms. After leaving office he founding a security consulting firm. It is rumored that George W. Bush asked him to serve as Homeland Security Secretary, but he declined and recommended former police chief Bernard Kerik instead.
Danny Wegman, Secretary of Agriculture
Wegman is the Chairman and CEO of his family’s namesake chain of innovative grocery stores, which employ more than 58,000 people and earn more than $7 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1916 as the Rochester Fruits and Vegetable Company, it has grown to 90 stores across the Mid-Atlantic and New England sections of the country. His appointment would seem to put consumer preferences first when making policy, but Trump has not yet articulated his agriculture policy.
Carl Icahn, Secretary of Commerce
Icahn is a an American business magnate, investor, activist-shareholder, and philanthropist. He is the founder and majority shareholder of Icahn Enterprises, a conglomerate based in New York City, and is Chairman of Federal-Mogul, an American developer, manufacturer and supplier of powertrain components and vehicle safety products. His net worth is more than $15 billion and he has taken substantial or controlling positions is firms as varied as Nabisco, TWA, Texaco, Phillips Petroleum, Western Union, Viacom, Marvel Comics, Revlon, Time-Warner, Netflix, and Motorla.
Carl Paladino, Secretary of Education
The Buffalo based real estate developer turned school board member was the 2010 Republican nominee for Governor of New York. A Paladino appointment would signal that Trump intends to take an aggressive posture on federal education policy — which could include federal vouchers that link funding to students rather than districts; and extending bankruptcy protections to student loan borrowers. Paladino attempted to convince Trump to run for Governor in 2013. He wound up convincing him to run for president instead.
Elon Musk, Secretary of Energy
Musk is the founder of Pay Pal, Tesla Motors, and Solar City. He is a transformational thinker who is pursing ventures in space exploration, and wants to reinvent the American energy grid. He is among the most accomplished of Silicon Valley innovators with a net worth of $11.5 billion. If given public-scale resources and a mandate, Musk could reinvent the North American energy system.
Ben Carson, Secretary of Health & Human Services
Perhaps no other Republican primary contender for president was as friendly with Trump as Dr. Ben Carson, the famed neurologist. Carson helped Trump campaign for the presidency in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan — a deep blue state that Trump was able to narrowly flip. Trump plans to “repeal and replace Obamacare.” The Secretary will play a pivotal role in shaping what the American healthcare system will look like for the next generation. Trump and Carson have both advocated for a nationally competitive marketplace for insurance and market-based mechanisms for cost control.
Michael Porter, Secretary of Housing & Urban Development
If Trump truly has an interest in reviving the inner city, the role of HUD Secretary will be pivotal. Michael Porter is a Harvard Business School professor known for his theories on economics, business strategy, and global competitiveness. He is the author of 18 books and numerous articles including Competitive Strategy, Competitive Advantage, Competitive Advantage of Nations, and On Competition. Porter is the most cited academic in business and economics. Porter stated in a 2010 interview: “What I’ve come to see as probably my greatest gift is the ability to take an extraordinarily complex, integrated, multidimensional problem and get arms around it conceptually in a way that helps, that informs and empowers practitioners to actually do things.”
Sarah Palin, Secretary of the Interior
The 2008 Republican nominee for Vice President and former Governor of Alaska was an early and aggressive backer of Trump during a robust primary. Palin’s anti-establishment bonafides helped Trump make major inroads with Evangelicals and anti-Washington constituencies among whom Palin remains popular. Her last minute appearances in North Carolina are credited with helping lock up those electoral votes. The Department manages Federal lands, national parks, natural resources, environmental conservation projects, and Indian Affairs.
Chris Christie, Secretary of Labor
The Governor of New Jersey endorsed Trump after exiting the Republican primary himself. Christie has battled with public employees unions and teachers, as he guided the state through the fiscal crisis left to him by former Governor Jon Corzine. Trump Administration labor policies are unclear, and Trump has made strides appealing to blue collar workers in the union towns across the Rust Belt. Under Trump, the role of Labor Secretary will be one that shepherds industrial modernization projects and deals that on-shore manufacturing operations.
Chris Collins, Secretary of Transportation
Rep. Chris Collins (R-New York) is the only member of the House of Representatives to endorse Trump. He has been appointed the transition team’s executive committee, but denies interest in a cabinet position. He is content with his position on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. But if Trump is true to his pledge that he will rebuild American infrastructure to the tune of a $2 trillion investment program, the role of Transportation Secretary will be key. Trump has publicly complained of our “third world airports” and desire to rebuild the nation’s highways and transit systems.
Bernie Sanders, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Sanders sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee and has played an oversight role for years. He is familiar with the management problems at the agency. If Trump were to extend Sanders the offer of a cabinet position, it would neutralize an influential critic and set a tone of bipartisanship on an issue that is such. Trump has made it clear that he wants to provide veterans with vouchers, allowing them to access healthcare through third party non-governmental providers.
Newt Gingrich, United States Ambassador to the United Nations
The former Speaker of the House holds a PhD in European History. A fierce defender of Trump throughout the campaign, Gingrich has demonstrated his loyalty. He is a figure of considerable stature and gravitas, whose style and temperament is suitable for the role of chief American diplomat at the United Nations. His weakness would be that he lacks business sector experience and insight into international trade.
Mary Barra, United States Trade Representative
Barra is the CEO of General Motors. Serving as the nation’s Chief Trade Representative would put the interests of the domestic automobile industry at the front and center of foreign policy making. The US Trade Representative will be tasked with negotiating tax and regulatory relationships with international trading partners. If Trump is serious about eliminating the trade deficit with foreign governments, it will require making auto exporting a foreign policy priority. Trump supporters in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Upstate New York will be watching closely.
Meg Whitman, EPA Administrator
The former e-Bay CEO and candidate for Governor of California was not a Trump backer. She has moderate pro-business leanings and a Silicon Valley social network, which may make her valuable to a President Trump. Whitman has taken centrist views on environmental issues.
Carly Fiorina, SBA Administrator
They were not chummy during the primary season, but in the weeks leading up the election Fiorina publicly supported Trump and called for the defeat of Hillary Clinton. The logic of putting Fiorina in an economic development position would be clear: that the United States is in business to do business and will aggressively pursue an innovation agenda. The former Silicon Valley tech-CEO was responsible for a massive restructuring of the firm that repositioned it for global competitiveness. Will she be able to do the same thing at the Small Business Administration? Cultivating hot beds of innovation across the country will be a longstanding legacy worth leaving.