Trump's Cabinet Picks 'Take The Establishment And Shake It Upside Down' As the president-elect has named his Cabinet picks, in the realm of domestic policy, it's clear he's aiming for a dramatic shift from the Obama administration and tradition.
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Trump's Cabinet Picks 'Take The Establishment And Shake It Upside Down'

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Trump's Cabinet Picks 'Take The Establishment And Shake It Upside Down'

Trump's Cabinet Picks 'Take The Establishment And Shake It Upside Down'

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

With the selection of ExxonMobil's Rex Tillerson for secretary of state and the expected nominations of Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke at Interior and Rick Perry for the Department of Energy, Donald Trump has largely formed his Cabinet. As NPR's Tamara Keith reports, the president-elect's personnel choices give an indication of how he might govern.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Looking at domestic policy, you could describe many of Trump's choices as an anti-Cabinet. There's former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who during a 2012 debate said he wanted to eliminate three agencies. He famously couldn't remember one of them - the Department of Energy, the very department he's being tasked to lead.

For the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump picked Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who's a climate change sceptic and has been a vocal critic of the EPA.

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SCOTT PRUITT: What the Affordable Care Act was to health care, what Dodd-Frank was to the banking and finance system, the Clean Power plan is to our power grid and energy in this country.

KEITH: Trump's choice to head the Department of Health and Human Services, Congressman Tom Price, is an opponent of the Affordable Care Act. When it comes to Medicare, he favors creating a voucher system. Here he is on Fox Business.

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TOM PRICE: The problem isn't that there isn't enough government involvement in health care. The problem is that there's too much.

KEITH: Trump's choice for the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, is a staunch advocate for school vouchers. Teachers unions say that would undermine public schools.

And then there's Ben Carson, Trump's pick for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He's a renowned neurosurgeon with no experience in housing policy who's expressed a dim view of government social programs. Here's what he said during a CNN town hall.

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BEN CARSON: My stance is that we the people have the responsibility to take care of the indigent in our society. It's not the government's job.

KEITH: And there's Andy Puzder, who runs the company that owns the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's fast food chains. He's on tap to lead the Labor Department, the very agency that cited Hardee's for overtime violations. He also opposes significant increases in the minimum wage and has advocated for automation to replace low-wage workers.

NEERA TANDEN: I have to say. It's really quite shocking.

KEITH: Neera Tanden is president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress and served on the Obama transition team in 2008. She says it's not uncommon for there to be significant policy shifts when control of the White House changes parties, but she says this goes well beyond that.

TANDEN: You did not see that with previous Republican administrations. Obviously there were some Cabinet members who were very, very conservative. But it's unusual to have picks who do not believe in the department itself and the mission of the department.

KEITH: And there's another way Trump is breaking with tradition, says Dave Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron who studies the presidency and White House staffing.

DAVE COHEN: So many of these people are so very inexperienced in terms of the Cabinet departments that they've been tapped to oversee.

KEITH: There are billionaires and millionaires, people with impressive resumes in business. But Cohen says Republicans and Democrats alike have typically chosen Cabinet secretaries from people who've served in the agencies they will lead or have other relevant government experience.

COHEN: I think it's very out of the ordinary. You know, what a president usually tries to do is to place people in the Cabinet that won't run into a lot of objection on Capitol Hill. And one way you do that is you appoint people that have a vast amount of experience.

KEITH: In a way, it's like Trump is constructing a Cabinet in his own image. Ron Bonjean is a Republican consultant.

RON BONJEAN: It's a reflection of what Donald Trump has been wanting to do, which is to take the establishment and shake it upside down.

KEITH: Bonjean says Trump is coming into office not like a traditional Republican president.

BONJEAN: It's as if these Cabinet secretaries are moving into - each moving into a house and completely demolishing it and turning it upside down and remodeling it the way they want to see it.

KEITH: And that, Bonjean says, is what Trump voters were asking for - to take a wrecking ball to Washington and start over. Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington.

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