Taxpayers Face Quagmire Of Specialinterests

January 7, 2019 GMT

When he was campaigning, President Donald Trump famously pledged to drain the Washington, D.C., swamp. But now, midway through Trump’s term, he has assembled a Cabinet that presents taxpayers and consumers with a quagmire of special interests. Three original Cabinet secretaries already have exited amid scandals rooted in their misuse of government resources — Tom Price, Health and Human Services; Ron Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency; and Ryan Zinke, Department of the Interior, who is now under investigation by the Department of Justice for alleged self-dealing and other conflicts. And now four industry lobbyists are at the helms of departments that oversee aspects of those industries. Andrew R. Wheeler, acting EPA administrator, is a former lobbyist for the coal industry. Patrick Shanahan, acting secretary of defense, is a former supply chain executive for Boeing, the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, the defense division of which is a $20 billion-plus-per year business. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is a former executive for the giant pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly Co. Acting Secretary David Bernhardt is a former oil industry lobbyist. All of these officials were accomplished in their fields, but the question is that experience relative to public policy. In that respect, especially following the rapid accumulation of scandals in executive branch agencies, the notion that this administration is interested in clearing the swamp of special interests is laughable.