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Trump's cabinet worth $50 billion

US president-elect picks millionaires and billionaires for next administration

US president-elect Donald Trump, who campaigned on standing up for the poor and disenfranchised, has filled his cabinet with millionaires and billionaires.

Politico estimated the net worth of the administration at US$35 billion (S$50b), if unconfirmed picks such as oil and gas mogul Harold Hamm and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney were included.

"Trump's appointees will probably wind up being the most wealthy group of people who have served in a presidential Cabinet in history," Mr Robert Spitzer, author of five books on American presidents and chairman of the political science department at State University of New York, told the LA Times.

The incoming commerce secretary, investor Wilbur Ross, is estimated to be worth some US$2.5 billion by Forbes' account.

His likely deputy, Todd Ricketts, who co-owns baseball champions Chicago Cubs, is in the club, too.

Ms Betsy DeVos, selected to head the Department of Education, is a billionaire philanthropist whose husband is heir to the Amway fortune, the newspaper said.

Critics have pointed out that Mr Trump promised to "drain the swamp" in Washington.

Said Senator Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee: "This isn't draining the swamp - it's stocking it with alligators."

The Democrats agreed, particularly in the case of Steven Mnuchin, whom Democrat Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren called "just another Wall Street insider".

"That is not the type of change that Donald Trump promised to bring to Washington - that is hypocrisy at its worst," they said in a joint statement.

"This pick makes clear that Donald Trump wants to cater to the same Wall Street executives that have hurt working families time and again."

THINKERS

A spokesman for Mr Trump said the appointments were not inconsistent with campaign pledges, the BBC reported.

"You want some people that are insiders and understand the system and some outsiders that are creative thinkers, out-of-the-box thinkers and disruptors," Mr Anthony Scaramucci, of Trump's transition committee, told Reuters.

And his wealthy cabinet does not seem to affect his supporters.

"I'm not surprised he's appointing billionaires. He's going to pick what he knows," Ms Gayle Stafford, 49, a middle school teacher who lives in a Cincinnati suburb and voted for Trump, told the LA Times.

She agreed that Trump "talked about getting rid of that kind of thing," but added, "I would hate to classify anyone who's wealthy as someone who can't get the job done."


Trump's super-rich cabinet nominees

Betsy DeVos, 58

Education Secretary

Estimated family wealth: US$5.1 billion

The Republican from Michigan is the daughter-in-law of Mr Richard DeVos, who co-founded Amway, a multi-level marketing retail giant.

 


Wilbur Ross, 79 

Commerce Secretary

Estimated wealth: US$2.5 billion

Mr Ross is the 232nd wealthiest man in America, according to Forbes.
A collector of fine art, Mr Ross ran the bankruptcy advisory business at the Rothschild family's investment banking company

 


Todd Ricketts, 47

Deputy Commerce Secretary

Estimated wealth: Unclear

Mr Ricketts is the co-owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. His father, billionaire businessman Joe Ricketts, is believed to be worth US$1.78 billion.

 


Steven Mnuchin, 53

Treasury Secretary

Estimated wealth: US$40-46 million

Mr Mnuchin is a former Goldman Sachs executive, hedge fund executive and Hollywood financier. He started an investment firm backed by the major Democratic donor George Soros and helped finance Hollywood blockbusters including Avatar and Suicide Squad.


Ben Carson, 65 

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Estimated wealth: US$26 million

The retired neurosurgeon was a Republican presidential candidate who endorsed Mr Trump after dropping out. He is known for pioneering surgery to separate conjoined twins.


Elaine Chao, 63

Transportation Secretary

Estimated wealth: Unclear

Ms Chao is the daughter of shipping magnate James Chao, the founder of the Foremost Group whose net worth is estimated at tens of millions of US dollars. She was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and arrived in the United States with her family at the age of eight.

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