Donald Trump got elected because he knew how to talk a good game. The people who voted for him believed he was in their corner and fighting for them. But talk is one thing and action is another.
I can’t bring myself to call him the president-elect. Calling him President Trump will be even more difficult. Right now, before he is actually sworn in Jan. 20, we can only judge him by the people he has chosen for important positions.
So far, the picks are not reassuring — and in no way constructive, inclusive or healing.
Let’s start with Rep. Tom Price (R-Georgia) to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price is a physician by training. He seems to seriously lack any bedside manner. He has devoted his entire congressional career to dismantling and repealing the Affordable Care Act.
This is Obama’s signature achievement. It provided health insurance to 20 million people who did not have it before. Its most important provision is that it forbids insurance companies to refuse coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. Price wants to do away with that most valuable and crucial component of the law.
Recently, Trump himself said he wanted to keep the section pertaining to pre-existing conditions. What gives? Why do you choose someone who wants to gut this essential provision?
The Price appointment sends terrible mixed signals, indicating an awful throwback to a time when insurance companies were allowed to do whatever they pleased without any concern for the public welfare. Price is the number-one champion for excluding people from health insurance and making insurance companies richer.
The pick for Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, is almost equally bad. Trump railed against Wall Street during the campaign. He called out the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs in particular. Now, what does he do but pick a former honcho of that bank.
Mnuchin later headed a bank that was a major culprit in the subprime mortgage debacle. This bank, OneWest, was notorious for its aggressive foreclosure practices.
Why Mnuchin? Not because of his qualifications or pro-consumer views. No, those were never the criteria. He was picked because he raised money for Trump.
One good choice was Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina for Ambassador to the United Nations. Trump knew she would not be in Washington. That says it all.
Political analyst and Georgetowner columnist Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a contributor to TheHill.com. Reach him at email@example.com.