Currently there is little going on between the Trump Group
and the CIA and other intelligence services. For one thing Trump is refusing to attend daily Intelligence Briefings more than once a week. He claims he is smart enough to know what is going on in the world and that the meetings are redundant. He is having his Vice-President, Mike Pence, attend daily.
On the other hand there is heavy dissent over the issue of Russia having influenced or tried to influence the Presidential Election by hacking and releasing through WiliLeaks thousands of Clinton and others Democratic emails. There is even a possibility of Russia having hacked into actual voting in the rural areas of the smaller states. These assertions have come from both Democrats and Republicans, marking the first time he had been officially called out by his own party. In fact Senator John McCain, the chair of the Armed Services Committee called for an investigation of Russian interference in the election.
The Trump people are mockingly pointing out that the CIA supported the concept of weapons of mass destruction during the first Bush Jr. administration, which incidentally they did not do. They were surprised by this Bush assertion and stated then that it wasn’t true, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bush and Cheney had found a pseudo expert who propounded this theory. Bush Jr. wanted the invasion because the ruler of Iraq had attempted to assassinate his “Daddy.”
Currently leaders in Congress are attempting to form a bipartisan group to investigate this situation. Trump is insisting that this finding by the Intelligence Community is nonsense for two reasons: (1) He didn’t need any help in winning the election, and (2) He has specific plans for dealing with Putin and Russia under his administration and the move by Congress could force him to alter them.
Trump’s rationale seems to be that the Intelligence Community has “no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody else. He called their report “Ridiculous.” Of course he knows this without looking at the CIA’s evidence. Remember, he does not attend Intelligence Briefings.
In the first postelection pushback that Trump has encountered from the Republican Party that belatedly and reluctantly embraced the unconventional candidate whose views often clash with traditional GOP ideology, the majority and minority heads of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer stated: “Democrats and Republicans must work together and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to defer and defend against further cyberattacks.”
During the final weeks of the campaign thousands of emails, many stolen from the Clinton campaign were released to WiliLeaks on an almost daily basis. On Friday December 9th President Barack Obama ordered the CIA and other intelligence agencies to conduct a full review of foreign based digital attacks aimed at influencing the election.
On Friday December 16th in his final Press Conference President Obama stated that he had seen the evidence that the hacking had been done by Russia in order to influence the American election in favor of Trump. He also stated that this would never have happened unless Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the action. President Obama further stated that the United States would take action, some visible and some publically invisible against Russia.
President Obama has a fraction over one month to take action or actions against Russia. On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States for the next four years and he has a positive view of Vladimir Putin.
Trump was elected by numerous individuals, many of whom probably voted for the first time because of Trump’s promises. In fact choosing him as the Republican candidate was a populist revolt over Congress’ inaction over the last six years. The group or groups in the individual states that caused him to win the election were both high school graduates and non-graduates who couldn’t stand the Democratic Party but had gotten nothing from the Republican Party in return for their votes in the past. Trump, the so-called billionaire, became the representative of this group throughout the United States. At the Republican Convention he promised to be their voice, to represent them and to bring back the past. That is, to bring back the jobs which have gone overseas or had technologically disappeared during the last forty or fifty years, which their group supposedly had in those earlier decades when life was simpler and, presumably, these people prospered or at least were able to earn a decent living.
Trump made all sorts of promises during the campaign. Now we begin to see, in a vague manner, where Trump is going politically by his Cabinet choices. He seems to favor generals, billionaires, and Wall Street. This is a strange group to satisfy the needs of the “forgotten man” or woman. He has chosen one of the most consistently conservative policy teams in the total history of the nation. In fact, most of these people chosen seem to hold opposite views in terms of the offices to which they are being appointed.
Trump vigorously campaigned against Wall Street and big banks, then chose a former Goldman Sacks partner who is a billionaire, Steven Mnuchin, to run the Treasury Department. Mnuchin is the co-chief executive of the hedge fund Dune Capital Management. He has served as chairman of the One West Bank after he led a group to purchase it. The bank has been criticized for a large number of foreclosures and for discrimination against minorities. It has also financed several high-profile films. Prior to that Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman Sacks. According to the Progressive Orange Campaign Committee Mnuchin made a fortune foreclosing on working family homes. This is the man Trump has chosen to oversee the financial structure of the United States.
A former lobbyist for the Koch brothers, who led a group that argued that solar energy would dramatically raise the cost of electricity is Trump choice to take over the Energy Department. Thomas Pyle is the man. For years Pyle has led a national assault on renewable power. Pyle has tweeted that he expects the new administration would go beyond a mere rollback of President Obama’s climate change actions. This is the man that Trump would have run the Energy Department.
In Health and Human Services, Social Security and Medicare, which Trump promised to save he has chosen Representative Tom Price, who has advocated major revisions in both, to run those services. Price is a six term Georgia Congressman who has led the charge to privatize Medicare. Trump did not mention Price’s plans for major changes to Medicare and Medicaid. Price wants to privatize Medicare and give participants in the program medical vouchers. He wants to save the government money by actually gradually making the beneficiary more and more responsible for paying for his own medical care. In terms of Medicaid give grants of money to the states. In this fashion the Federal Government can gradually decrease what it pays for these social programs. These programs mostly serve poor Americans. These changes would slowly decrease their benefits. He probably would also privatize Social Security.
His choice for Labor Secretary is Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE that owns Hardees and Carl Jr., who will control the working people and has spoken of the advantages of using automation instead of people at Carl Jr. He named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a man that has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the scientific consensus on climate change to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
Presumably his choice for Secretary of State is Rex Tillerson, the CEO of the Exxon Mobile Corporation. Tillerson has had dealings with Vladimir Putin and Russia. In fact in 2013 Putin gave him the highest civilian medal that could be awarded to an individual, the Russian Order of Friendship. It has also recently been released that Tillerson is a Director for a Russian-American oil company based in the Bahamas.
For Attorney General Donald Trump has chosen Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a true Southerner with strong Southern values who claims he is not a racist. Republican Representative Mick Mulvancy, a Tea Party deficit hawk is Trump’s choice as his budget director. He is cofounder of the hard right House Freedom Caucus and has a reputation for pushing deep spending cuts in order to balance the budget.
For Transportation Secretary, Trump choose Elaine Chao. She served eight years as George W. Bush’s Labor Secretary and is married to Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate. Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn was named as National Security Adviser. Flynn was fired by the Obama administration for erratic behavior and has used anti-Muslim language that even the most strident Republicans have avoided. He has used the words “radical Islamic terrorism in a way that blurs the lines between a war on terrorism and a war on Islam. Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, was chosen to become Ambassador to the United Nations.
Trump is still looking for people to appoint to other departments and there are others he has already appointed. The point has been made that most of Trump’s appointments are people who are opposed to the departments they are heading. Their function, apparently, will be to do a hatchet job on their departments, destroying any progress that has been made toward a cleaner, nonpolluting environment. The country has chosen a rather depressing four years.
In order to save jobs in Indiana Trump got the air conditioning company, Carrier Corporation to not move 2,000 jobs to Mexico. Instead for a state tax rebate of seven million dollars voted by a committee headed by Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, Carrier, the highly financially successful company, is only moving twelve hundred jobs to Mexico. Trump saved eight hundred jobs. It only cost Indiana seven million dollars in lost taxes.
What emerges here is essentially a negative pattern in which President Donald Trump by placing people who basic philosophy is counter to the departments in government to which they are appointed can in a relatively short time wipe out the achievements of their departments and bring the country back to where it was prior to 2008 when the Housing Debacle occurred. They can relatively quickly get rid of all or most government restrictions on industrial and banking development. Many Republicans, particularly the Tea Party group, applaud these choices by Trump. A small percentage of the Republicans do not appreciate them.
There are currently 52 Republican Senators and 48 Democratic ones in the Senate. Most of Trump’s appointments require “advice and consent” by the Senate. I can think of no way in which all the Republican Senators will give Trump a blanket vote. Trump may find it impossible to get many of his choices for Cabinet department heads through. The Democrats will give negative blanket votes against almost all of them. It will only take 3 Republican votes to get a person rejected. The hearings should be interesting and dramatic.
What we see here seems to be a pattern of what the two major political parties stand for and where they currently are in terms of historical time.
The Republicans seem to be in the late 18th Century, when this country was started, and in the 19th Century when life and work was simpler. Their basic premise seems to be that the function of government is to take care of wars and provide a safe environment where business can take place. The people of the nation are responsible for themselves. This type of government did function during the early period of our history, when men could pack up their families and go west.
The Democratic Party, which was begun by Thomas Jefferson, initially was the party of the yeoman farmer, it served the little man as he and his family made their way through life. This changed in the 20th Century when life became mostly urban and monopoly arrived, virtually totally exploiting the common man. A young lawyer, Louis Brandeis, introduced sociological evidence, the living conditions of workers, in his trials for the first time and essentially changed the concept of what was considered evidence. For this he was rewarded or punished by being placed upon the Supreme Court.
Brandeis was followed by the Great Depression of 1929 and Franklin D. Roosevelt who redefined the functions of the Democratic Party as the Party of the common man. Its functions, in addition to the normal ones of a National Government, became those of assuming responsibility for the functions of society that individuals could not handle for themselves, making the nation safe and positively functional for everyone.
With the election of Trump we seem to be at the beginning of a return to the past. Of course, with doing away with Affordable Health Care (Obamacare), which the Republicans have tried to do multiple times under President Obama and claimed should be done, we could, at some point in 2017, see well over 20 million people lose their medical coverage. In addition the entire medical insurance industry could be totally disrupted as the insurance companies base their premium rates upon their knowledge of their clientele. A disruption of this sort could cost the Republicans both Houses of Congress in 2018. And it’s interesting to note that toward the end of 2016, after Trump became President-Elect, there has been a massive surge of sign-ups for Obamacare. It is in the millions.
Donald Trump has promised, among other things, not to change Obamacare other than to make it better. The Republicans in Congress have promised to do away with it for the last six years. Over 20 million people who had no medical insurance prior to Obamacare are now insured. The Republicans have promised to replace it with something better but in six years they have come up with nothing better. What are they going to do? Twenty million or more people suddenly losing their health insurance will, no doubt, make their feeling known in the next Congressional Election in 2018.
Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, recently was questioned by the press about Obamacare. He equivocated, saying that nothing has been decided yet. The Republicans have controlled both Houses of Congress for nearly two years and nothing has been decided. Apparently the Republicans do a good job of objecting but a lousy job of legislating. It would seem that the different shades of conservatism are incapable of coming to agreement on most things among themselves or, to put it more simply, compromising even among themselves.
In terms of Trump and the majority of Congress, both claim to be Republican, but do they really agree on all or even most traditional conservative policies? Keep in mind that the conservatives in Congress have problems functioning as a single unit, then add the President-Elect, who has his own version of conservatism and would come to different conclusions on many issues, and try to visualize what will probably happen.
The issue is Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. There are also innumerable other issues. One gets the feeling that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, doesn’t quite trust Donald Trump. The two smile a lot together but don’t really trust one another.
First: Ryan was the only Republican in the House of Representatives that all the Republicans in the House could accept as their conditional leader after John Boehner was forced to resign as Speaker. Second: Ryan is using the same techniques against Trump that he used against President Obama. The Finance Bill, which funds the Federal Government, traditionally was passed for the entire fiscal year. Ryan changed that. It is now passed on a four month basis.
According to the Constitution all money bills have to originate in the House. The Bill then goes to the Senate. They can pass it exactly as it is or they can change it. If they change it the Bill then goes to a Conference Committee, made up of Representatives from both Houses of Congress. Both Houses vote on the new Bill; and when passed, it goes to the President for his signature.
Paul Ryan changed that pattern. The House would pass the money Bill just before the House adjourned for some sort of break. The Bill sent to the Senate had to be passed just as it was. There was no time for the Conference Committee to meet. Attached to the money Bill were riders the President would not ordinarily approve. The choice was to pass the Bill or allow the government to run out of money.
The last money Bill that Congress passed was in the middle of December of 2016. The next money Bill will have to be passed in the middle of April of 2017. Ryan has left himself with leverage that can be used against President Trump if it is necessary.
Trump’s Presidency should be loud and vociferous. Trump will be highly frustrated every time he doesn’t get his way. The frustration will begin with many of the appointments he has made. Only a percentage of his appointments will be approved. He should be denouncing congressmen loudly, accusing them of all sorts of things. In addition he will want to perform assorted actions that Congress does not approve of and he will be reacting to that. At some point the House may even vote a Bill of Impeachment against him for conflicts of interest or for some other reason. The next four years will be colorful and probably, at times, very emotional.