Joe Scarborough cast doubt Wednesday over whether President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees to lead the Departments of the Treasury and Commerce would bring the populist economic reforms that Trump promised during the campaign.
The “Morning Joe” host said there was “quite a contrast” between Trump’s populist pledge to take on international financial institutions and his decision to appoint former Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin to lead the Treasury and Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary.
“Donald Trump and his success and failure depends on Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He’s not president of the United States without those states. And yet, the people in those states did not vote for Goldman Sachs Treasury secretary. And they didn’t expect him to put a billionaire in charge” of the Commerce Department, Scarborough added.
Scarborough argued that Ross and Mnuchin, both appointments from the private sector, will “do Trump’s bidding because neither one of them has a history of driving policy.”
“If you’re going to change Republican economic policy over the past 30, 35, 40 years, you need really smart people that are going to drive that message not only to the hill, but to the American people. He doesn’t have those people here,” Scarborough said.
He added: “With these picks, Donald Trump will never get the Republican economic conference meaningful legislation that deviates from past economic policy.”
Indeed, despite explicitly criticising Hillary Clinton’s ties to the global investment bank, Trump has already drawn from its ranks for his top appointments.
Mnuchin and chief strategist Steve Bannon both worked at Goldman Sachs, while Trump is also reportedly considering Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn to lead the Office of Management and Budget.
For its part, Trump’s transition team has said its picks would not execute policies contrary to Trump’s campaign message.
In an interview later in Wednesday’s show, Scarborough asked Trump’s incoming chief of staff, Reince Priebus, whether Trump could fulfil his promises to Rust Belt voters while appointing “creatures of Wall Street.”
“Steve is going to be lockstep with the vision of Donald Trump and Mike Pence,” Priebus replied. “They wouldn’t be offered a position if they didn’t follow suit with the exact things that President Trump wanted.”
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