The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Democrats are intimidated by Trump’s Cabinet of successful superstars

Financier Carl Icahn, right, and his wife, Gail. (Henny Ray Abrams/Associated Press)

President-elect Donald Trump is getting his share of criticism for appointing effective, wealthy business executives and leaders from the private sector to his Cabinet. Democrats would have you believe that people who have been magnificently financially profitable in America are somehow disqualified from helping shape American policy. But here’s a different way of looking at the Cabinet Trump has assembled: This may be the most successful group of people brought together to serve a common purpose in Washington in at least the last 50 years.

The list of those willing to bring their expertise to the aid of their country keeps growing. Trump announced Wednesday that billionaire investor Carl Icahn will serve as a special adviser to the Trump administration, specifically on regulatory issues. He will not draw a salary or be considered a government employee. And that appears to be more than Democrats can bear. They are lambasting this as an insider arrangement that will somehow benefit Icahn. Democratic National Committee spokesman Eric Walker went so far as to say, “The corrupt nature of this arrangement cannot be understated. Voters who wanted Trump to drain the swamp just got another face full of mud.”

Really? How is Icahn generously volunteering his time and knowledge to help rein in President Obama’s excessive era of regulations proof of corruption? If you remember, Obama tapped a number of CEOs to join his President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, including Jeffrey R. Immelt, who served as council chair while he was also the chairman of General Electric. Jim McNerney, chairman and CEO of Boeing, and AOL co-founder Steve Case also sat on the council, along with numerous other American business leaders. If they were able to advise Obama on “ways to create jobs, opportunity, and prosperity for the American people” without being corrupt, why is it that a guy like Icahn can’t help Trump identify ways that regulations may hinder economic growth?

And, oh, by the way, Trump might actually listen to Icahn’s recommendations and implement changes to help boost the American economy. I said in 2012 that Obama’s creation of a jobs council was “nothing more than a throwaway talking point for his apologencia to use to try to mask the truth of his anti-capitalist core beliefs.” The jobs council only met four times before it fell apart. The fact is, Obama used the business leaders on the council as props designed to suggest he cared about business. What a joke. The president who famously declared “You didn’t build that” when talking about productive American business owners wasn’t actually interested in what the council might have had to say.

We should be grateful that people like Icahn are willing to participate and give the president-elect advice. And good for Trump for recognizing that involving accomplished business leaders will be beneficial to the economy. This move further reinforces that business is back. Trump’s welcoming of business leaders is wildly different from Obama’s open contempt for entrepreneurs and business owners. We should want the most successful people we have to feel welcome to chip in and, dare I say, work to make America great again.