Politics of Poverty

“Drain the Swamp,” then fill it with corporate lobbyists

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Those making up the President-elect’s core team in Washington may not bring the shake up he promised.

Those who followed the presidential election will be familiar with the oft-repeated promise that now President-elect Trump intends to “drain the swamp” in order to “Make America Great Again”. Trump consistently campaigned on the theme that he would throw the establishment bums out and replace them with the best and brightest. For voters in both major parties this was a popular theme of the election, as many felt underrepresented and sidelined by special interest groups.

So it is with a keen interest that we can review the emerging list of people working on the Trump transition team to implement this agenda. One day after securing electoral victory, the incoming Trump administration is apparently embracing a number of establishment operatives.  Yesterday, POLITICO reported that the people in charge of selecting his top advisors include a litany of former GOP administration officials and corporate lobbyists who have spent the last decade representing a string of special interests. Their agendas have not been on behalf of the people who most need America to be “great again.”

In other words, Trump could be draining the swamp only to fill it in with corporate lobbyists for Big Ag, Big Banks, Big Telecom, Big Oil and more.

Here’s a sampling of the team, all of whom will have great sway over agencies that regulate major parts of the US and global economy:


David Malpass heads up the economic team and is reportedly lead for the Department of Treasury. After serving under President Reagan, Malpass was the Chief Economist at Bear Stearns just before it got bailed out by the federal government and went belly-up during the 2008 financial crisis.


Leading efforts at the Environmental Protection Agency is Myron Ebell one of America’s most prominent climate-change denialists and the director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) a conservative think-tank funded in part by the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel industry stalwarts like Exxon Mobile.


Heading up the Department of Agriculture is Michael Torrey. Torrey’s anti-establishment credentials include serving as Chief of Staff to the Department of Agriculture under President George W. Bush before signing on as a lobbyist for clients including the American Beverage Association (lobbying arm of companies like Coke, Pepsi and other large food and beverage companies) and other major Snack Food and Big Ag interests.


Overseeing Labor is Steve Hart, Chairman of DC lobbying firm Williams & Jensen who has represented the interests of major corporations and trade organizations with Congress and regulators on a range of issues including tax and employee benefits.


Keeping eyes on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates many aspects of the internet, is Je­ff Eisenach. This summer a damning New York Times investigation revealed how Eisenach simultaneously worked to shape government policy as a scholar at a conservative think tank, lobbying the FCC and serving as a paid consultant to Verizon and its trade association. 

The list goes on. Suffice it to say, those looking to future President Trump to shake-up Washington may be disappointed to hear that those leading his transition team represent the very same special interests and establishment structures Trump promised to dismantle.


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