Can Billionaire CEOs Make America Middle-Class Again?

Rick Pluta, MPRN

President-elect Donald Trump at the Detroit Economic Club

Several business leaders are expected to serve in keys roles in President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet.

Trump has picked CEOs and business leaders to run the departments of Labor, Commerce, Treasury, the State Department, and the Small Business Administration

That’s a big shift away from the approach President Obama took with his cabinet, which largely came from academia and government.

Are business leaders more or less qualified than those academics to steer the economy in the right direction? Do you trust CEOs to do what’s best for the working and middle class in America?



Here’s a list of business leaders Trump has chosen so far:
Andrew Puzder, CEO, CKE Restaurants (labor secretary) 
Wilbur Ross, chairman, International Coal Group, investor (commerce secretary)
Linda McMahon, former CEO, WWE Wrestling (Small Business Administration administrator)
Steven Mnuchin, former Goldman Sachs partner (treasury secretary)

Rex Tillerson, CEO, Exxon Mobile (secretary of state)

Detroit Today Host Stephen Henderson speaks with Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). The Revolving Door Project is “an effort to increase scrutiny on executive branch appointments and ensure that political appointees are focused on serving the public interest, rather than personal professional advancement,” according to its website.

Business experience can be OK, especially if it’s tethered to a history of public service and public mindedness,” says Hauser.

Unfortunately, that connection is lacking in almost all or all of the named people from President-elect Trump so far,” he says, naming Andrew Puzder — the CEO of CKE Restaurants and Trump’s pick for labor secretary — as an example. “The Labor Department was literally created to give working people a voice in the executive branch, and Puzder is as diametrically opposed to that as one could imagine. So, I think it’s very alarming.”

Henderson is also joined by Jarrett Skorup, a policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. He’s less alarmed by Trump’s cabinet selections.

I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest just coming from academia or the public sector means they’re going to be better, or (that a business background) means they’re going to be worse,” says Skorup. “So, I think the question is, what are these people going to do, what’s the principals that they have?”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

About the Author

Detroit Today

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