Trump’s team of gazillionaires – Politico
Donald Trump campaigned as a champion of the “forgotten man” and won the White House on the strength of his support among the white working class.
So far, he’s stacking his administration with masters of the universe.
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Beyond Trump himself, who claims a net worth of more than $10 billion, the president-elect has tapped businesswoman Betsy DeVos, whose family is worth $5.1 billion, and is said to be considering oil mogul Harold Hamm ($15.3 billion), investor Wilbur Ross ($2.9 billion), private equity investor Mitt Romney ($250 million at last count), hedge fund magnate Steve Mnuchin (at least $46 million), and super-lawyer Rudy Giuliani (estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars) to round out his administration. And Trump’s likely choice for deputy commerce secretary, Todd Ricketts, comes from the billionaire family that owns the Chicago Cubs.
Even retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who’s up for the job of secretary of housing and urban development, has an estimated fortune of $26 million, while White House adviser Steve Bannon has likely earned millions off his stake in the show “Seinfeld” alone. Andrew Puzder, a possible labor secretary, is no slouch, either — he made more than $4.4 million in 2012 as CEO of the holding company that owns restaurant chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.
Put together, Trump’s Cabinet and administration could be worth as much as $35 billion, a staggering agglomeration of wealth unprecedented in American history.
The median household income in the U.S.? About $55,000.
Trump’s glittering roster of millionaires and billionaires risks undermining the fundamental basis of his campaign before the Manhattan magnate even takes the oath of office.
Trump pulled off his shocking win over Hillary Clinton in large part by convincing just enough Rust Belt voters in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan that he understood their frustration with a “rigged” economic system that he said favored Wall Street elites and Washington insiders over average workers who feel left out of the current economic expansion (though, according to exit polls, Clinton won voters making less than $50,000 a year).
“My campaign is about reaching out to everyone as Americans, and returning to a government that puts the American people first,” Trump said while laying out his economic vision during a major address Detroit in August. “We will offer a new future, not the same old failed policies of the past. Our party has chosen to make new history by selecting a nominee from outside the rigged and corrupt system.”
But Trump now appears to be surrounding himself at least in part with people who come very much out of that system, particularly Wall Street.
Mnuchin and Bannon both made millions at Goldman Sachs, a bank singled out for criticism in Trump’s campaign ads. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein appeared as a shady and dangerous character in the closing spot of the Trump campaign.
President Obama’s re-election campaign savaged Romney for the fortune he earned in private equity. Ross became a billionaire in the “distressed” debt industry which critics prefer to call “vulture” investing, picking clean the carcasses of devastated industrial companies. A think tank supported by DeVos and her husband earlier this month published an article calling for a return of child labor.
Trump’s decision to tap – or strongly consider – all of these super-wealthy people is already opening windows for Democrats to savage the president-elect as a false-prophet who campaigned as an everyman but may govern as a plutocrat.
“These picks are a betrayal of his message to working class voters,” said Neera Tanden, president of Center for American Progress and a close Clinton confidante. “Trump claimed he would fight the global elite billionaire class, instead he’s handing them the keys to agency after agency.”