(AP/Richard Drew/John Locher)

Republicans breathe a sigh of relief: Donald Trump's cabinet picks show appeal to GOP orthodoxy

Donald Trump is stacking his cabinet with business leaders. His advisers say tariffs will be "a four-letter word"


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Carrie Sheffield
December 28, 2016 11:01PM (UTC)

Donald Trump’s conservative critics like Mitt Romney were upset at unbridled populism and economic protectionism the “Blue Collar Billionaire” expressed throughout the campaign, especially on international trade. Yet part of why Romney and other former #NeverTrumpers have taken a more positive approach is partially hopes for a well-run country, but also due to the evidence that Trump appears to be moving toward a more standard model of Republican governance based on free trade and deregulation and other aspects of Reaganomics. This will likely mean a more stable and predictable administration than we feared: thankfully, prognostications of apocalypse, nuclear war and economic collapse appear wildly overstated.

Last week at a conversation on economic policy under Trump hosted by The Committee to Unleash Prosperity, Trump adviser Stephen Moore told me that “tariffs is a four-letter word” by his account, and adviser Larry Kudlow echoed this sentiment. Obviously it’s too early to tell whether this worldview will prevail, though it is relieving to hear that these Trump confidantes are arguing to prevent the squeezing of middle class families by government protectionism. By these Trump advisers’ account, the priorities of deregulation and tax cuts are the preferred tools of the incoming administration to repatriate foreign money and save domestic jobs.

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Besides alleviating fears on tariffs, there’s also Trump's solid cabinet picks; they are full-throated expressions of American Exceptionalism. It’s incredibly ironic that Sen. Bernie Sanders is attacking the wealth and success of Trump’s cabinet picks when Sanders, “the six-figure Socialist” himself, owns three homes and earns income placing him in the top 3.8 percent of American households.

Regardless, Sanders' dehumanization of job creators is passé. After eight years of the White House demonizing entrepreneurs and businesspeople, voters chose a leader who values competent people who know how to create market or consumer demand and run sizable operations. These leaders will be able to transfer their smarts and talent to government.

In the same way that a Coca Cola CEO can successfully run Home Depot or a large non-profit organization, the issue at hand is about leadership and judgement, not technical bureaucratic expertise. Trump doesn't have technocratic expertise, and his voters loved him for it. What’s great about the private sector is that it ensures accountability through immediate feedback by consumers. Unelected bureaucrats are too often unaccountable (at state and local levels, often, due to the influence of government unions), and now voters opted for a White House of leaders who value tangible results over laudable intentions.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the labyrinth process of comprehensive disclosure for wealthy government nominees sacrificing their lucrative careers for public service. Yet disclosure requirements are already strict for many appointees working in heavily-regulated industries like finance. Even before working as a fairly low-level Goldman Sachs analyst, I underwent an intense compliance process before ever working a day. Many of these high-caliber individuals Trump has named are already well-versed in complying with exacting regulations meant to prevent money laundering, insider trading and other problems.

Yes we need financial disclosures and transparency (Romney’s right about demanding Trump’s tax returns) from our public servants to prevent conflict of interest and any corruption should be immediately punished.

Will we see any more 4 a.m. Trump tirades about the BMIs of beauty queens? God only knows. But beyond the showmanship of the bully pulpit, it’s reassuring to know that we’re going to have grownups running these agencies — men and women who have competent track records of managing complex, global institutions.

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Carrie Sheffield

Carrie Sheffield is a Salon Talks host, founder of Bold and adviser to Lincoln Network. She previously wrote editorials for The Washington Times, covered politics for POLITICO and The Hill and analyzed municipal credit for Goldman Sachs and Moody's Investors Service.

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Donald Trump Donald Trump Cabinet Gop Mitt Romney Republican Party

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