Elections have consequences. We’ve said it before, but it’s never been truer than it is today.
Yes, elections have consequences, as Donald Trump is now proving by filling each and every Cabinet post with a man or woman whose sole mission is to roll back every advancement made over the last eight years under President Obama.
Start with Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., who was tapped by Trump to be the new secretary of health and human services. Since March 2010, the primary mission of the HHS secretary has been overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Not Tom Price. For the last six years, his primary mission has been to repeal Obamacare. Now he’ll have his chance.
An orthopedic surgeon himself, Price was the chief opponent of Obamacare during the two years it wound its way through Congress. Once signed into law by President Obama, Price then led some 62 roll-call votes in the House of Representatives to repeal Obamacare, which would have left 20 million Americans who now have health insurance for the first time in their lives with one of three choices: invest thousands of dollars (which they don’t have) in a personal health savings account; go to the emergency room whenever they get sick; or die. Trump doesn’t care. Neither does Price.
What Tom Price is to health care, Betsy DeVos is to education. He’s the enemy of Obamacare; she’s the enemy of public schools. She’s been trying to gut public schools for years. And now, as Trump’s secretary of education, she’s been given the opportunity.
Betsy DeVos, married to the son of Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, has devoted her entire professional career and her husband’s money to efforts to undermine public education, including charter schools, home schooling and vouchers for private and religious schools. She’s also an unabashed foe of teachers’ unions, which are prepared for the worst. “In nominating DeVos,” says American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, “Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America.”
In terms of wiping out any gains made under the Obama administration, Price and DeVos may do a lot of damage. But nowhere near the harm done by attorney general-designate Jeff Sessions. As senator from Alabama, he actively fought every single initiative undertaken by President Obama.
Comprehensive immigration reform? Sessions is against it. Mass deportation of undocumented immigrants? Sessions is for it. Establishing a religious test to lock all Muslims from entering the country, in direct violation of the First Amendment? Sessions supports it. Supreme Court decision upholding same-sex marriage? Sessions says they got it wrong. Supreme Court decision to gut the Voting Rights Act? Sessions says they got that one right.
To their numbers we can now add new treasury secretary, billionaire Steven Mnunchin, committed to rolling back Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and openings to Cuba. And commerce secretary nominee, fellow billionaire Wilbur Ross, who believes the top 1 percent of wealthiest Americans have been “picked on for political purposes” and therefore deserve another tax cut.
Those are just the Cabinet members we know of so far, but they’re a good indication of what’s to follow. Any day now, expect a new secretary of labor whose mission is to abolish the minimum wage and destroy labor unions. Don’t be surprised to see a new secretary of the interior reverse a ban on offshore drilling and open federal lands for new mining and drilling. And you know darned well that the first directive of the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency will be to abolish Obama’s new pollution-control rules on coal-fired power plants.
Ironically, President Obama doesn’t share that bleak assessment. In an interview he gave the morning after Clinton’s stunning defeat, Obama held out the hope that President Trump would be different than Candidate Trump. As president, Obama told Rolling Stone, “that means you surround yourself with really good people, that you spend time learning and understanding what these issues are because they really actually have an impact on people.”
With all due respect, Obama’s dead wrong. That may be the way he governs, but we’ve already seen that’s not the way Donald Trump governs. He doesn’t surround himself with good people. He spends no time learning and understanding. He’s too busy tweeting. And he doesn’t care what impact those issues have on people. He’s already made up his mind to destroy every trace of Obama’s legacy. Now he’s diabolically putting together the wrecking crew to do so.