What Populism? Trump’s America Is Party Time For Corporate Elite

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Above Photo: Take a look at the current list of landing team members and their prior affiliations, and you’ll see exactly where things are heading under a Trump administration.

Trump’s corporate takeover of federal agencies

“Trump has converted the GOP into a populist working-class party,” Trump advisor and far-right economist Stephen Moore told Republican members of Congress at a caucus meeting.

Well, advisor Moore, meet the Trump transition team.

“We are witnessing not a populist, working class revolution, but the wholesale takeover of government by an extremist faction of the corporate class.”

The leader of the would-be populist working-class party has invited rogues’ gallery of insiders—corporate lawyers, investment fund managers, corporate executives and wonks hailing from corporate-backed think tanks—to populate the “landing teams” that are doing the nitty-gritty work of transitioning government agencies from control by the outgoing Obama administration to the incoming Trump regime.

It turns out that nearly three-quarters of the landing teams come from the corporate world or corporate-affiliated think tanks, according to a Public Citizen review.

And, although the Trump team has kicked registered lobbyists off the transition, at least 13 of the 71 landing team members have been registered lobbyists in the past, some as recent as last year.

What does the purportedly “populist working-class” transition team look like? Take a look:

  • Paul Atkins is in charge of financial regulation for the Trump transition and on the landing teams for the Elizabeth Warren-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) . He is the CEO of Patomak Global Partners, a consulting firm that advises financial services companies on compliance issues. Atkins formerly served as a Republican commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission, where he was viewed as being largely opposed to regulation.
  • Joel Leftwich is the staff director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry. He was a lobbyist for PepsiCo from 2013 to 2015, and in 2010 was a lobbyist for DuPont.
  • There are 10 people on the landing team for the Department of Defense. More than half work now or previously for defense contractors, including Mira Ricardel, a former vice president for Boeing known for advocacy of space laser weapons.
  • Michael Dougherty is on the landing team for the Department of Homeland Security. He is the CEO of Secure Identity & Biometrics Association, a trade group that represents the interests of member corporations whose business is security screening technology for airports and border crossings. Previously he worked for Raytheon, a security contractor and, before that, as a Homeland Security official under President George W. Bush.
  • Doug Domenech is on the landing team for the Department of Interior. He is director of the Fueling Freedom Project at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, whose self-proclaimed purpose is to “explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels.” He also worked for 12 years for the Forest Resources Association, a national trade association representing the forest products industry.
  • There are 9 people on the landing team for the Department of Justice, predictably drawn heavily from the ranks of corporate law firms. Two thirds of them are involved in corporate criminal defense work!

There are policies that could be put in place to address the revolving door problem—individuals leaving government and going to work for the industries they formerly regulated, and from regulated industry into government positions. President Obama took important steps in this direction with an executive order at the outset of his administration but only addressed registered lobbyists. The solution is to change the focus from registered lobbyists to those with financial conflicts of interest—people from or who work for regulated industry should not be able to move seamlessly into jobs as the regulators.

But what’s going on with the Trump administration is beyond fixing with clear policies. We are witnessing not a populist, working class revolution, but the wholesale takeover of government by an extremist faction of the corporate class.

It has become conventional wisdom in Washington that “personnel is policy”—that the people appointed to key positions will make the policy decisions, and are therefore even more important than any particular policy choice. At no time is this more true than now, with a president-elect with minimal interest in policy details.

So, take a look at the current list of landing team members and their prior affiliations, and you’ll see exactly where things are heading under a Trump administration. Trump voters hoping for anti-establishment, anti-insider politics are in for a rude awakening. It’s party time for Corporate America.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    It was all there for people to see, except they were rushing to be sheep. Now they will all get sheered.

    We need a multi-million human march on Washington. Will the corporate media ignore that too, or label everybody, “Communists”?

  • rgaura

    Duh! Continuity of the deep state. From Reagan on, they have all been complicit in this takeover. Clinton and Obama played their part by posing as opposition. Trump voters have been duped just as Obama voters were.
    Remove your complicity, your deposits, and lets stop feeding the machine.

  • Jon

    Instead of “draining the swamp,” Trump has imported a herd of alligators!

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    Maybe we will be lucky and they will all turn canibalistic.

  • DHFabian

    Those on both sides of the ideological divide have hijacked this word, with both sides using it incorrectly. “Populism” actually refers to the proverbial masses — poor and middle class, workers and the jobless. The right wing apply this word to those who agree with corporate/rt.wing ideology. Liberals have, for the past quarter-century, applied this word exclusively to those who are at least working class, preferably middle class. The middle class are less than half the population today, and on the way out. As for the rest, we can count how many are fortunate enough to still have jobs, but have no way to determine how many are left out, with little or no incomes. It’s not possible for populism to exist when a big chunk of the population is simply excluded.

  • DHFabian

    Actually, Obama presented some of the most progressive proposals we’ve seen since before Reagan. Congress — Dems included — voted against most of those proposals. Still, he was able to get a few things accomplished, such as restoring benefits to the disabled that Clinton had slashed in the 1990s, undoubtedly saving lives.

    As a candidate, Obama often stressed that the only way change was possible is if people could pull together, figure out what they want, get to their feet, and DEMAND it from Congress.This almost happened, too, with Occupy. But before we even had a chance to catch our breath, Dem pols and liberal media successfully redefined Occupy as a middle class movement alone, and the rest of us finally walked away. We the People don’t agree on much.

  • DHFabian

    In recent decades, the People have been deeply divided against each other by class, race, and ideology.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    For the ruling vampires, promoting such division has been policy from ancient times. The Romans subdued Italy by treating each conquer city-state differently, so they would all lose differently by revolting and failing. I’m sure they weren’t the first to use such a strategy.

  • Jahar Saddles

    Speaking strictly as a Native American; there is no other country on the face of the planet that deserves Mr. Trump MORE than the USA. Indeed; “If the USA were any other criminal nation the ‘Americans’ would invade the USA to keep the world safe.”

  • rgaura

    DHF, sorry, I completely disagree. I think you have absorbed parts of a false narrative. Obama clearly sold us out. He colluded with the mayors across the county to remove Occupy. He shilled for the bankers. The citizens were robbed. Actually the biggest heist (wealth transfer in history). Don´t be fooled by sweet talk. By their fruits you shall know them.

  • AlanMacDonald

    “Divide and conquer”, now where have I heard that as a strategy?

    Western History:

    From Church-centric Empire (singular), to Nation-state-centric Empires (plural), to Disguised Global Capitalist Empire (singular).

    So as Bill Murray might say, “At least we got that going for us”

    Or as il Donald would say, “Make Empire Great Again”