Hello, again, Insights.
I have had many things on my mind concerning this blog, especially after Trump won the Presidency. One of them was focusing on the Transition of power, including Trump’s advisers and cabinet selections, but it became too time-consuming. The thing is that Trump is the new President and there are a lot of real issues that need to be dealt with. Many have expressed concerns due to his blunt, divisive rhetoric. His competentness has also been questioned.
The Trump Administration has gotten off to a rocky start. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign over contacts with the Russia Ambassador concerning U.S. sanctions on Russia. Flynn had lied about the situation, prompting his resignation. However, this situation is far from over. There have been bipartisan efforts to call for an investigation into the situation with Flynn and whether or not Trump or anyone else knew something about it.
A campaign promise Trump made was to “drain the swamp.” That means getting rid of corruption in the political system, particularly in Washington. Unfortunately, Trump has failed to meet that. This is shown through his cabinet selections among other things.
Betsy DeVos is now the Education Secretary after a 51-50 vote. Vice President and Senate President Mike Pence voted for DeVos in a tiebreaker vote that was along party lines. She has been a vocal advocate for charter schools and school choice and has been an outspoken opponent of Public Education and effectively bought her way to the position. 23 senators who voted for her received campaign contributions of at least $1,000 and as many as $98,300 from the DeVos family. Noted that they are not just from Betsy DeVos, but the DeVos family wants something in return for their donations to campaigns and SuperPACs(which we have found out that they are not really ‘independent’ of the campaign.)
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, as well as Goldman Sachs President Steve Mnuchin, were confirmed to the position of Attorney General and Treasury Secretary, respectively. This is what I mean by the concept of principle and objectiveness. Mnuchin was the President of Goldman Sachs, one of the largest banks in America, and in fact the world. In fact, Goldman Sachs had to pay out $5.1 billion as a result of fraud. Things need to be called out when necessary, as well as credit should be given when due.
Sessions has concerns of concerns on civil rights enforcement, among other things. He was denied a federal judgeship partly because of this. As the U.S. Attorney General, he could change progress at the state level, such as marijuana legalization. He would also be responsible or prosecuting federal hate crimes, which could be a concern. Additionally, his hard-line stance on immigration boasts another issue, as this could affect many immigrants.
Labor Nominee Andrew Puzder, who had as of this week, withdrew from the nomination process due to concerns that he could be confirmed, which partly goes back to him owing millions to Swiss bank UBS.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was confirmed today by the Senate to head the Environmental Protection Agency, but there are many concerns regarding him. As Oklahoma AG, he sued the agency 13 times and has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Fossil Fuel interests. As you can see from the profile of Oklahoma Strong Leadership PAC, a SuperPAC affiliated with Pruitt, many fossil fuel companies, as well as wealthy individuals from many similar special interests donated to the PAC.
The United States, although considered a democracy, doesn’t operate as one. A Princeton study proved this; America is effectively an oligarchy. A common theme that I have expressed is the issue of money in the political system. Campaign finance Supreme Court cases ranging from Buckley v. Valeo to Citizens United v. FEC have had disastrous effects on our so-called democracy.
The economy is another broad issue always on the minds of the citizens. When Barack Obama took office, we were in the middle of the Great Recession. The big banks had failed. They were too big to fail, causing a worldwide financial crisis. The banks just got bigger. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 deregulated the financial industry, and a key provision in the bill dismantled Glass-Steagall, a banking Act passed in the wake of the Great Depression. Basically, Glass-Steagall was a bill that placed a firewall on speculation. Commercial and Investment banking were separated.
The surface is just scratched here. More will follow.