Trump’s cabinet picks disagree with him in key areas such as the deficit, trade, foreign policy, and climate change.
Those divergent views will pose a challenge for the incoming administration.
- The president-elect’s pick for budget director, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R., S.C.), has opposed raising the debt ceiling, but Mr. Trump has proposed steep tax cuts and large increases in defense and infrastructure spending that many economists believe will cause the deficit to grow.
- Several of his cabinet selections backed a trade deal negotiated by President Barack Obama with Asian nations, which Mr. Trump opposed and has vowed to abandon.
- His choice for the State Department, Rex Tillerson, has said he believes science proves climate change is being caused in part by human behavior, something Mr. Trump in the past has called a “hoax.”
- Wilbur Ross, his selection for commerce secretary; Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who’s been tapped to become ambassador to China; and his selection for defense secretary, retired Gen. James Mattis, have all spoken favorably of the Obama administration’s proposed trade deal with Asian countries, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Mr. Trump has promised to end this trade deal as part of his initiative to redraw U.S. trade rules.
- His pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has called a federal policy that forces increased use of ethanol and other biofuels into the U.S. fuel supply “unworkable” and backed a 2013 lawsuit challenging the measure. But, before the first caucuses during his early Republican primary fights, Mr. Trump told Iowans supporting the ethanol mandate he was “with you 100%.”
- Gen. Mattis, who is revered by many in the military, has other foreign policy views that differ from his prospective new boss. He has been sharply critical of Russia’s intentions in Ukraine, while Mr. Trump has deflected criticism about Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he wants to improve U.S. relations with the Kremlin.
Tim Naftali, the former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library who teaches history at New York University, said it isn’t out of the ordinary for presidents to appoint cabinet members with differing viewpoints.
What is unusual about the incoming Trump administration, he said, is that his core White House leadership team doesn’t have the administrative background that’s useful in managing policy differences.
“The key here is not the fact that these are smart, successful people who view the world differently,” Mr. Naftali said. “That’s not new. It’s the fact that the center of the operation has absolutely no experience managing policy differences.”
Add in Trump’s propensity to tweet anything and everything and one has to wonder how long some of these people will last.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock