Because Trump has appointed very few officials, the small group of conservative activists who are attempting to implement his agenda could hold outsized influence. A leaked document from Trump’s Domestic Policy Council, reportedly leaked from the Office of Management and Budget and published in October by Crooked Media, identified eight Domestic Policy Council members who are apparently quietly leading that charge as points of contact.
Handling education policy for the Domestic Policy Council is Robert T. “Rob” Goad II. The leaked document suggests his work has focused on two key priorities: expanding school choice and making colleges and universities share some of the responsibility for student loans. Both efforts would divert federal funding for public schools toward private and even religious schools.
…In his Trump administration capacity, has he has made news twice. First, he was the administration staffer tasked with defending then-Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos against plagiarism charges. Then, he hosted a media conference call to announce a Trump executive order on “education federalism” — an order that, Goad admitted to reporters last April, does virtually nothing.
Laura Cunliffe is the point-person for changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Farm Bill, according to the leaked document.
…She spent most of the past five years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administering child nutrition programs under President Barack Obama. As a USDA program analyst, she joined with nutritional advocates in 2013 to make the rounds explaining the department’s new healthy school snack requirements. Two years later, she gave a keynote speech on the importance of child nutrition programs at a foster-parent conference.
In her new role, she appears to be now working to eliminate much of what she worked to implement in the past administration.
The point person on labor issues is James Sherk. According to the document, his priorities are to reduce benefits to federal employees and labor unions.
…He is a 2003 alumnus of Hillsdale College, a Michigan school known as a “citadel of American conservatism” with a stated mission of not “succumbing to the dehumanizing, discriminatory trend of so-called ‘social justice’ and ‘multicultural diversity.’” As an undergrad, he penned an article for the college paper denouncing all government stimulus programs.
…He opposed public sector employees’ right to bargain collectively, embraced so-called “right to work” laws, and fiercely opposed a $15 minimum wage. He worked to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have made it easier for workers to unionize.
The memo identifies her as point person for proposals to allow Pell Grants to be used for job training, to cut or “repurpose” some job training programs at the Department of Labor, and to repurpose Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds to increase private-sector partnerships and apprenticeships.
…The efforts in particular to cut federal programs is very much in line with her long history of pushing to decimate government.
Peter J. White is the point of contact for issues related to aeronautics and space, according to the document.
…White’s former boss Brooks boasts that he “consistently receives the highest rating in Congress from NumbersUSA,” a notorious anti-immigration group known for racist attempts to convince black people that immigration takes away their jobs. Brooks’ views on immigration and other judicial issues are far-right — he once complained that the Democratic Party had launched a “war on whites. White also served as his old boss’ conduit to the Trump administration when Brooks was upset in January that the new administration did not immediately rescind protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as kids.”
…In his Trump administration role, White authored a presidential executive order reinstating the National Space Council, which President Bill Clinton disbanded in 1993 as part of a larger effort to reduce White House staff.
White is a member of the conservative Federalist Society. While space policy may be one area where White and the Trump administration are not pushing for massive cuts, it remains to be seen whether they will push for a massive privatization of the space space.
Darin Selnick has been tasked with fixing the Veterans’ Affairs department, according to the document. And that apparently means privatizing it.
So far the VA is in the process of outsourcing its electronic records system, replacing its in-house Vista system with an estimated $10 billion to $18 billion system through the company Cerner. A recent push in Congress on a bill to overhaul the Veterans Choice Program, which proponents say would give veterans more flexibility in receiving care from private doctors (but opponents warn could effectively dismantle the VA), also aligns with the leaked list of Trump administration priorities — though it’s unclear if Selnick has been involved with the legislation.
…From 2013 to 2017, he served as senior veterans affairs adviser for Charles and David Koch’s libertarian dark money group Concerned Veterans for America, which is trying to push veteran healthcare into the private sector and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on electing Republican U.S. Senate candidates.
…His role in the Trump administration would seem to be chiefly a continuation of his longstanding pro-VA privatization activism.
Two women are listed on the document as overseeing the health policy area: Katy Talento and Alexandra “Alex” Campau.
In that capacity, the duo would be trying to dismantle a long list of USAID and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health programs aimed at curbing sexually transmitted diseases, obesity, chronic diseases, teen pregnancy, and infant mortality, and improving environmental health and workers’ safety.
Now, the administration’s fiscal year 2018 State Department and USAID and CDC budgets propose drastic cuts to global AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria programs, global health initiatives, and a range of chronic disease prevention and health promotion programs and grants.
…[Talento] has written columns for the right-wing news site The Federalist arguing birth control causes miscarriages and abortions and is a form of medical malpractice. She opposed funding for HIV/ AIDS research while working as a U.S. Senate staffer in 2003 because she claimed it supported Russian prostitution.
…The New York Times, in a July profile, called Talento one of the “architects” of Trump’s reversal of the Obama administration’s requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control.
…Her work shilling for the healthcare industry make her a prime fit to dismantle important initiatives and programs intended to improve global health.