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Trump’s 17 Cabinet-level Picks Have More Money Than a Third of American Households Combined

The 17 people who US president-elect Donald Trump has selected for his cabinet or for posts with cabinet rank have well over $9.5 billion in combined wealth, with several positions still unfilled. This collection of wealth is greater than that of the 43 million least wealthy American households combined—over one third of the 126 million households total in the US.

Affluence of this magnitude in a US presidential cabinet is unprecedented.

The household data on which we based our comparison is from the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances. Collected by the Federal Reserve, this survey is the most recent comprehensive data source on American wealth. The estimates were adjusted for inflation and an increase in the number of American households. It is possible that the wealth of low-income Americans has changed since 2013, but trends over the last several decades suggest a large change is unlikely.

It is worth noting that almost 13% of American households have zero or negative wealth because of debt, so we are adding together these households with those that have at least some wealth.

Even if we just compare the wealth of Trump’s cabinet to the median household, it is still an...

Republicans Like Paul Ryan Want to Stop Regulatory Agencies From Writing Rules or Doing Much of Anything

The results of the 2016 US election have sent pundits and analysts scrambling to figure out how the Republican sweep will impact the fate of president Barack Obama’s signature reforms, including the Dodd-Frank Act and the Affordable Care Act. But going forward, it will be just as important to track GOP efforts to alter how rules are made in Washington.

For years, the Republican party has pursued changes that would make it harder for federal agencies to write new rules—part of a broader effort to reduce the size and scope of government. The issue rarely gets the same amount of attention as the party’s efforts to wipe out Obamacare or roll back new regulations for Wall Street. Still, GOP lawmakers have introduced a whopping 163 bills since 2011 designed to alter the regulatory process. If they succeed, regulatory agencies could find it considerably harder to put forward standards that are designed to protect people—whether that’s rules for food safety or those governing the mortgage loans we borrow.

Party leaders have already indicated that they will continue to pursue the strategy in the new year, even beyond immediate efforts to repeal so-called midnight regulations the Obama...

What Obama Can Do Before He Leaves Office

With the political media focused predominately on president-elect Donald Trump’s interview process for top cabinet positions in his administration, we all tend to forget that US president Barack Obama still has a little less than two months in office before his second term finally ends. While this isn’t a particularly long period of time for him to achieve monumental things, it’s a window wide enough to tie up loose ends.

President Jimmy Carter’s final few weeks are perhaps the best modern illustration of how a president in the twilight of his administration can free the incoming commander-in-chief from a major headache. Before Ronald Reagan was sworn in, Carter successfully hammered out a deal with the Iranians that finally freed American hostages after 444 days in captivity.

Thankfully, president Obama doesn’t have to deal with a tremendously complicated hostage crisis involving hundreds of American citizens. He does, however, have plenty of things on his docket that require his full attention before he heads for the White House exits.

1. Making progress on Israel-Palestine

President Obama devoted one of his first major foreign policy addresses to the intractable Israeli-Palestinian dispute, a conflict that has vexed multiple American...

How Trump Could Shock a Divided Nation Back to Life as Collaborator-in-chief

“Partnership, not conflict,” were the words spoken by President-elect Donald Trump during his acceptance speech. That collaborative approach is what my scholarship on good governance shows is required for effective public administration.

That is also what effective and sustainable leadership demands of the Republican Party, which is now in a position to govern with a majority in both the House and Senate. Some of Trump’s recent actions, such as the selection of Stephen Bannon for White House strategist and his urge to respond to critics on Twitter, have continued to elicit concern among his detractors. Nevertheless, he has shown signs that he’s willing to work out differences by mending fences with his most vocal critics such as Mitt Romney and Nikki Haley.

Perhaps the president-elect can create the newly structured Republican Party that GOP faithfuls hoped for, but were not able to achieve in the last two election cycles. Perhaps these efforts signal a more collaborative framework at the national level of governance in a country that has been divided by political rhetoric and administrative stalemate for well over a decade.

Could the next four years of Trump presidency be just what the doctor ordered for the GOP...

Obama Says That in America You 'Can Criticize a President — Without Retribution'

In his last national security speech, delivered before troops on Dec. 6, Barack Obama praised and defended his administration’s legacy and offered his view on how successors should continue its policies and uphold its values. Although the White House says the remarks were planned before the Nov. 8 election, the speech often sounded like a lightly veiled message to president-elect Donald Trump, whose views on national security largely diverge from Obama’s.

“[The US is] a country where you’re judged by the content of your character, rather than what you look like, or how you worship, or what your last name is, or where your family came from,” Obama said. “That’s what separates us from tyrants and terrorists.”

In his speech, held at the MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, Obama said that America was a country where people are free to criticize its president “without retribution,” hinting at Trump’s oft-displayed dislike of criticism directed at him. Obama reviewed his eight years as commander-in-chief, including the fight against Al Qaeda and the way his administration handled the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also spoke about his vision of America and lessons for the future.

Instead...

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