Donald Trump’s nominees to lead his administration set a dangerous precedent for our country and New Mexico.
Led by alt-right, White supremacist advisors at the helm, nominees like these bring loads of conflicts and ideological beliefs that threaten to destroy our country’s basic institutions, further divide our country and erode opportunity for working families of all persuasions.
Earlier this month, Senator Tom Udall summed up the new challenge and importance of focussing our efforts on Washington over the next few weeks:
“This is not the time to weaken our position in Washington. President-elect Trump has proposed policies with respect to health care, constitutional rights, immigration, privatizing public lands, and foreign policy that could be devastating to the citizens of New Mexico. When I was elected to the Senate, I committed to standing up in Washington for New Mexico families to ensure everyone has an opportunity to get ahead and their needs never take a back seat to wealthy special interests. I believe that pledge is even more important now.”
Here’s just a sample of what Donald Trump’s nominees could mean for New Mexicans:
OK Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt, a climate-denier and oil industry defender, for EPA
The Four Corners area is the home of the world’s largest methane cloud (so big you can see it from space! See it here) and haze and pollution from New Mexico power plants filters across four states blocking views in National Parks and creating unhealthy air conditions for children.
In 2011, the EPA determined that fossil fuel-driven power production violated EPA rules and they implemented a settlement agreement with power companies to close some coal-fired power units to address the problem.
As EPA Administrator, Pruitt could roll back those rules and end enforcement of the agreement.
Learn more: Trump’s EPA pick let Republican donors, oil execs draft climate policy | ProgressNowNM
“Global warming is one of the greatest threats to public health, our environment and our national security,” New Mexico Senator Tom Udall said about Pruitt. “And New Mexico is in the bull’s eye, as farmers and anyone who relies on water and weather know all too well.
Dr. Ben Carson, who thinks poverty is a choice, to lead Housing & Urban Development
To borrow an old phrase, putting Ben Carson in charge of HUD is like putting the arsonist in charge of the fire department.
Cities and Counties across New Mexico are worried about this appointment because HUD does much more than administer federal housing programs. It is one of our country’s most successful poverty-fighting institutions and New Mexico leads the country in a half-dozen poverty indicators.
First problem: Carson thinks poverty is a choice.
“I began to realize that poverty was really more of a choice than anything else and that I could change that” – Dr. Ben Carson, 2013
They also administer housing discrimination complaints. Ben Carson said publicly that desegregating housing was unnecessary “social engineering” and a “failed experiment.” Carson, a neurosurgeon, has zero experience in either housing or urban development. As Carson himself told the Washington Post, “Having me as a federal bureaucrat would be like a fish out of water, quite frankly.”
The program he was criticizing, according to the Washington Post, has been very successful in integrating neighborhoods by providing low and middle-income families support to purchase homes in upper class neighborhoods like his. Apparently, he’s not a fan of having to see poor neighbors.
A loss of HUD programs or funding for people who “choose” to be poor would be devastating for a state like New Mexico.
Here are just two examples: In just the past three months alone, HUD provided $2.8 million for Cochiti and Zuni tribal housing and infrastructure programs and $500,000 in low-income job training for underemployed New Mexico workers.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, once deemed too racist by the US Senate to be a federal judge, will now lead our entire federal justice system as Atty. General
If you are a person of color in America, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General should scare the bejesus out of you. As a US Senator, he is a leader of obstruction efforts to reform our criminal justice system, responsibly regulate marijuana and expand voting rights. But it is his time before becoming Senator that is even more concerning.
He was so racist that Republicans voted down his confirmation for a federal judgeship.
The last time Sessions faced a confirmation vote, in 1986, his nomination was voted down by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee after they were confronted by Sessions’ extensive history of racist comments and actions.
And instead of de-escalating and ending the war on drugs, Sessions is all for ramping it up.
In Sessions’ hands, the war on drugs could be used as a weapon to spy on, investigate, incarcerate and deport immigrants, Muslims and other targeted groups. Already, President-elect Trump has said he will try to deport any immigrant who commits any kind of criminal offense, no matter how minor, including drug offenses.
That’s just one reason among many that immigrant rights groups are now so concerned that Jeff Sessions is about to inherit access to the country’s most powerful domestic intelligence and law enforcement network.
Hardee’s CEO Andrew Pudzner, a leading opponent of minimum wage and promoter of “put it in your mouth” and “burgers and bikinis” ad campaigns, for Labor Secretary
If you are looking for a raise, you are out of luck. If you are a woman looking for a raise, you are doubly so.
Trump’s pick to run the Department of Labor (another of those anti-poverty, workplace safety, balance-the-scales) agencies is a national leader in corporate efforts to oppose minimum wage hikes.
He’s also a good ‘ol boy who sees nothing wrong with telling women in bikinis to “just put it in your mouth” to sell hamburgers.
Some of the ads his restaurants have run have been criticized as too risque, featuring scantily clad women eating hamburgers. Puzder defended the ads last year, saying: “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.” – NPR
Asked about proposals to raise the minimum wage, he said he would “lose about $6,000.” NPR reports that he made $1.25 in bonuses last year – that is 125% of his $1 million salary.
New Mexicans could use a wage boost. A 2014 study found that 90,000 children in New Mexico depend on a minimum wage worker.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a proponent of selling public lands for development, for Interior Secretary
If you are a fan of public lands, Cathy McMorris Rodgers is not your girl.
Rodgers is a strong proponent of selling public lands to mining and development companies, but don’t take our word for it.
She has voted in favor of expanding fossil fuel development on public lands and in federal areas off-shore. She opposes efforts to change the royalty rates on federal coal mining, something pushed hard by Obama’s Interior Department, and voted for a GOP budget that would allow the sale of public lands to mining companies. – The Hill
Overnight, she could reverse years of progress enhancing protections for federal lands, including many in New Mexico.
The Interior Deptartment also manages our countries Native American programs. New Mexico’s tribes and puebloa will be on watch to see how she follows through on commitments laid out by the Obama administration and howa Trump administration will react to the stronger political power in Native communities fighting development like DAPL and ANWR.
Here’s what Senator Martin Heinrich had to say about her appointment and the impact on New Mexico:
“I have concerns with her history of support for auctioning off Western public lands–including more than 1250 square-miles in New Mexico–and allowing for the destruction of a site sacred to Apache nations across the southwest.”