By on November 30, 2016

Elaine Chao

After much speculation, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Elaine Chao, former labor secretary and current spouse of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as his Secretary of Transportation.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy spilled the beans, The New York Times reports, stating that the Trump camp named Chao for the role on Tuesday afternoon. 

While Chao’s establishment ties conflict heavily with Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington insiders, she is also a well-qualified and well-connected choice. Chao could be a critical asset toward Trump’s plan to improve U.S. infrastructure. Trump sincerely seems to want the country’s bridges, roads, and airports repaired or replaced on a massive scale and Chao’s past labor position (and husband) place her in a very helpful position.

Prior to her labor role in the Bush administration, Chao worked for various departments within the federal government. She was White House fellow under President Ronald Reagan, and served as deputy transportation secretary for President George H. W. Bush.

“That says something,” Richard F. Hohlt, Republican consultant and friend of Chao, told The New York Times. “She knows how to work a bureaucracy, and she knows how to last.”

Chao has also worked for Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the Heritage Foundation, and is a regular commentator on Fox News. She also sits on the Fox Broadcasting Company’s board of directors. The same goes for Wells Fargo, which she is almost certain to come under scrutiny for if she decides to accept this position.

Corporate conflict and partisan issues aside, many seem to feel that Chao would at least be in a good position to lay some pavement. “I’m as optimistic as I’ve been in a long time about the potential she brings to finally get something done on infrastructure,” Ray LaHood told The Times. La Hood served as Transportation secretary under President Obama and also worked with Chao during her time as Labor secretary.

McClatchy reported that Trump and Chao had a meeting in Trump Tower last week where they “conversed about labor and transportation issues with a particular focus on America’s long-term infrastructure needs, and reducing or eliminating burdensome regulations,” according to the transition team.

Chao has yet to publicly address the meeting or respond to the forthcoming nomination.

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80 Comments on “Trump Chooses Elaine Chao for Transportation Secretary...”


  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Think the Donald will grab hers?

  • avatar
    319583076

    Swamp status: Undrained

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “Drain the swamp”

      Where do you “drain the swamp” when your place of work is in the middle of the Everglades?

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        he just jealous.. no got chinese tigah wife!!

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Taiwanese actually…….. but hey, they all look alike.

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            Maybe ’cause they’re all Chinese? Or don’t you remember 1949?

            Christ, I remember it more vividly than 5 minutes ago.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Okay. Gotta give you that one. “98% ethnically” Chinese.

            So how does she fit into his Mexican Great Wall project…..

            sh!t

            I now see his master plan.

            Brilliant.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            People living in Taiwan are nearly 100% Chinese by ancestry according to Wikipedia –

            “According to government figures, over 95% of Taiwan’s population of 23.4 million consists of Han Chinese, while 2.3% are Austronesian Taiwanese aborigines. The category of Han Chinese consists of the three main groups: Hoklo, Hakka, and mainland Chinese.[1][2]”

            I’ve only taken an interest intense comments due to my total awareness of the rage that China’s Government feels anytime they contemplate the fact that Taiwan, unlike Hong Kong, still identifies itself as an independent island nation, determined to maintain sovereignty of itself and defend itself against any attempts by China to re-assimilate it into China Proper.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            1949? I’ll have to google it and get back to you. Wasn’t that a movie with John Belushi?

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            Yeah… the abos don’t count on Taiwan any more than they do on Okinawa.

            Nobody in a Confucian culture expects otherwise.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            p.s. – Putting political hat on: She’s been a relative do-nothing’er or worse number prior positions, and given the announcement of Munchkin as Treasury Secretary, and vulture-dismantler Wilbur Ross at Commerce, it’s feeling swampy as ever in D.C. post-election.

            If Romney becomes Secretary of State, buyers’ remorse (from those bought in) will begin in earnest and make its vocal presence known.p even from former true-believers.

            Some swamps have too many mangroves to be drained.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            DeadWeight – “Putting political hat on”

            Killjoy ;)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            This woman’s father is apparently a cocaine trafficker and I wouldn’t be surprised if her family were tied into the Triads. The fact she is married to Senate Majority Leader McConnell only adds to the mix of intrigue and facepalm. She was in both the Bush I and Bush II administrations as Secy of Labor (a bs role) and Undersecretary of Transportation (more of the same), which means in addition to international drug trafficking she is tied into the Bush family criminal enterprise. You can pick anyone off the street to do this job, why Chao? Why even have a national DOT? Follow the money.

            You’re better than this Donald. Forget drain the swamp, kill the criminals.

            Duterte 2020!

            “The Republican Senate minority leader’s personal wealth grew seven-fold over the last ten years thanks in large part to a gift given to him and his wife in 2008 from James Chao worth between $5 million and $25 million (Senate ethics forms require personal finance disclosures in ranges of amounts, rather than specific figures). The gift helped the McConnells after their stock portfolio dipped in the wake of the financial crisis that year, and ensured they could pay off more than $100,000 in mortgage debt on their Washington home.

            The generous gift made McConnell one of the wealthiest members of the Senate, with a net worth averaging around $22.8 million, according to The Washington Post’s review of his financial disclosures.

            Following the gift, McConnell sent a letter of congratulations to an auditorium of Chinese officials in Shanghai who were gathered for an event honoring James Chao’s wife (McConnell’s mother-in-law, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, who passed away in 2007). The Shanghai Mulan Education Foundation, created in her honor, regularly hosts students from the University of Louisville, where McConnell has a leadership academy bearing his name that sends students on trips to China.”

            https://www.thenation.com/article/mitch-mcconnells-freighted-ties-shadowy-shipping-company/

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            “Put together, Trump’s cabinet and administration could be worth as much as $35 billion, a staggering agglomeration of wealth unprecedented in American history.”

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            28-Cars-Later – her father is/was a cocaine trafficker?

            Trump’s family fortune started in Canadian gold-rush whorehouse……..

            so your point is????

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Chao is one generation removed from a druglord, who is still alive, and Chao is most likely involved in some way. Trump is two generations removed from a pimp, who is long dead, and who has never engaged in running a brothel to my knowledge.

            If the worst they can say about Trump is you’re the grandson of a pimp, its leagues better than most politicriminals.

          • 0 avatar
            Chan

            Anti-China expats in Taiwan like to play up that 3% Austronesian gene pool as a differentiator from mainland China, as if it has any statistical significance in Taiwan’s society.

            In the context of Taiwan, I should note that the “mainland Chinese” demographic label is actually termed “out-of-province” in Chinese. It refers to the wave of ROC nationals that fled to Taiwan along with the Nationalist government when the Chinese Civil War was lost in 1949.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          She’s married to Mitch McConnell, career politician and current Republican Majority Leader of the Senate. He also enjoys the lowest approval rating among all senators.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @319583076, yeah but don’t forget that Liddy Dole (Transportation Secretary 1983-1987) was in Reagan’s Cabinet and her husband (Bob) was in elected office from 1950 to 1996.

            This isn’t exactly anything new.

          • 0 avatar
            319583076

            That’s precisely my point – the “outsider”, “anti-establishment” candidate who pledged to “drain the swamp” is doing business as usual.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “outsider”, “anti-establishment” candidate billionaire born into money.

            61,900,651 need to research cognitive dissonance.

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            “61,900,651 need to research cognitive dissonance.”

            This past election was just how working-class whites do protesting.

            It was just as informed and will be just as effectual in solving their problems as any other mass protest.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            28-Cars-Later – being the grandson of a pimp should mean he’ll know how to handle the whores and johns in his administration.
            As far as Elaine Chao being one generation removed from a druglord, perhaps she could of been put in charge of the DEA.
            My point was more a case of *does it really matter* who their ancestors are.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Hey, Trump, baby I Got Your Money.
            Don’t you worry
            I said hey, baby I Got Your Money.

            “My point was more a case of *does it really matter* who their ancestors are.”

            I see a difference between ancestors and parents. There is the whole “sins of the father” argument but I’m not buying this lady isn’t somehow complicit.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “Where do you “drain the swamp” when your place of work is in the middle of the Everglades?”

        When sea levels rise, the swamp won’t just be un-drained, it’ll be submerged.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          psarhjinian – isn’t that just a left wing myth created to redistribute wealth?

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @DeadWeight
          I saw a Chinese woman yesterday with a Tshirt ” Born in a British Colony”
          They really like to distinguish them selves if they are overseas Chinese .

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            There are rumors that Taiwan & its fierce independence so enrages Beijing that China has 1,000 ballistic missiles pointed squarely at Taiwan.

          • 0 avatar
            daiheadjai

            Not overseas Chinese – the woman you saw was probably from Hong Kong, which has a population with strong anti-PRC sentiment, or at least hefty skepticism towards the Chinese Communist Party and what they view as mainland China’s attempts to subvert Hong Kong’s free-market and democratic system.

            If you ask someone from Hong Kong if they’re from China, they will quickly correct you that they are from Hong Kong (and it is different, despite being a Chinese “Special Administration Region”).

        • 0 avatar

          At least the saltwater should kill the alligators.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      DeadWeight – Why do you think Trump tweeted his comically unconstitutional ideas about revoking the citizenship of flag burners? Sleight of hand for the believers. I think the biggest surprise is going to be how run of the mill this administration is going to be.

      • 0 avatar

        The Federal Flag Desecration Law (18 U.S.C. 700) is still the law of the land. Contrary to popular belief, the Supreme Court in 1969 avoided deciding whether flag burning was protected by the First Amendment, and instead overturned a singular conviction based on a single man’s oral remarks. In it’s decision the Court found there was not a sufficient governmental interest to warrant regulating verbal criticism of the flag.

        So quit burning the damn flag. Trump promises to uphold the law, which is the first and most important tenet of the office. If he desires to add a penalty it shouldn’t be very hard to get that through a Republican congress.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Another Trump winner. In her old job she liked to serve businesses by eliminating inspectors and regulations. Unsafe working conditions? Not a problem – it allows the companies to make more profits. Those inspectors and ugly regulations were cutting into the profits of the company. Who needs those pesky safety regulations when building bridges when the contractor is rolling in the profits. If a new bridge gets built under the Trump administration I wouldn’t drive across it on a bet. Get ready for really shoddy and expensive road projects. Loser!

    • 0 avatar
      DaPlugg

      Y r u mad tho

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Get ready for really shoddy and expensive road projects”

      Right, because Secy Lahood gave us all those shovel ready projects and Secy Foxx has accomplished anything of substance?

      “President Obama said on April 29, 2013 that he would nominate Foxx to be the Secretary of Transportation. On June 27, 2013, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Foxx to the Secretary of Transportation by a vote of 100-0.[8] Foxx resigned from his elected position as mayor to accept the federal appointment.[17] He priorities on 15 January 2014 at the 93rd Annual Transportation Research Board Chairman’s Luncheon in Washington, DC.[18]
      On September 12, 2014, Foxx announced 72 projects that were going to receive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants to help fund rapid transit projects.[19]
      On September 16, 2014, Foxx gave the keynote address at a rail signing ceremony in Detroit’s Grand Circus Park, which will be a terminus of the new Detroit Streetcar route.[20][21][22][23][24]
      Foxx was the designated survivor for the 2015 State of the Union Address on January 20, 2015.[25][26]
      July 14, 2015, Foxx assumed the keynote speaker during the inaugural ride of the Charlotte, NC streetcar. This was a $37 million transportation project he supported while holding office as the Mayor of Charlotte prior to his appointment of Secretary of Transportation.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Foxx

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Well, Congress has to go fund the projects, and since they went into Continual Hissy Fit Mode after Obamacare, nothing much happened.

        I guess the highway bills got lost somewhere between Obamacare Repeal Votes #1 through #129,034…

        • 0 avatar
          Jimal

          And therein lies the rub. Trump can promise the world, but if Congress doesn’t fund it…

          • 0 avatar
            Johnster

            Well, since President-elect Trump and both houses of congress are all Republican I think they would all go along with funding it.

            Tax and borrow Repubs vs. Tax and spend Dms, you know.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            “Tax and borrow Repubs”

            They’ll fix that – lots of money in the Social Security Trust Fund.

          • 0 avatar

            Congress will support President Trump. The House has a Republican majority. So does the Senate, upon which Harry Reid imposed the “nuclear option” to suppress opposition to their liberal agenda. Only simple majority of the vote in both houses needed now.

            There’s a lot of liberal dreaming going on around here.

          • 0 avatar
            shaker

            “There’s a lot of liberal dreaming going on around here.”

            And a lot of pent-up conservative gloating as well.

            It’s understandable, I suppose.

            I just hope that millions of innocent people don’t suffer some sort of retaliation by the pendulum swinging to the far right.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “There’s a lot of liberal dreaming going on around here.”

            Nightmares are dreams.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I see Trump doing big infrastructure work as a great thing, especially for the taxpayer. We all get nice new roads and bridges, and it won’t cost any of us a dime. Trump will stiff all the contractors.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Before you know it, we’ll be paying tolls to have decent roads and bridges…while some company gets fat off it.

    Making America Great Again!

    • 0 avatar
      jimble

      Yup. He campaigned on rebuilding infrastructure but what few policy details he’s released amount to nothing more than tax breaks for corporations that build projects they can make money off of (i.e., new toll roads). Fixing things will require tax dollars, not private deals that line his cronies’ pockets.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      That’s the way we do it in Texas. I can’t even drive on some highways without a EZ-Pass. Great for visitors too.

    • 0 avatar

      Clearly, you’ve followed his progress and dealings in Atlantic City. Christie also gave him a yuuuge tax break in AC…so maybe that is part of the reason the City is now in State Receivership ?

      I get that the flyover states were unhappy-the cities and coasts have somewhat recovered from the last Banker’s Bubble, unlike the center of the country, where 2009 never ended, but like most temper tantrums you stop when something valuable is broken. Goldman Sachs at Treasury, Romney at State, and a bona fide drug warrior/no friend of LGBT or voting rights at Justice, even though five states voted to legalize pot and there is marriage equality. What’s not to love ?

      I think this isn’t incompetence, but very, very well orchestrated planning. We were afraid of Hillary and Goldman Sachs ? Looks like they won the election either way.

      I am very sure that no matter what happens, The Donald and Co. will do very, very well. The rest of us, not so much, even the folks who, unlike this liberal, voted for him.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        speedlaw – too true.

        • 0 avatar

          “while some company gets fat off it.”

          Companies are people. People work for companies. For public companies, people invest in their stock and expect a return.

          It’s about people. I hope companies get rich soon. It’s good for your neighbors.

          • 0 avatar
            Fred

            This highlights the difference between liberals and conservatives. Liberals don’t trust corporations and conservatives don’t trust government. We are both right and also wrong. Somewhere in the middle is the correct solution. Unfortunately the climate is hostile to any negotiation and so we struggle.

          • 0 avatar
            sutherland555

            Fred You got that right. On another site, I’d give you COTD.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Fred – very true.

            I tend to distrust both since both are made up of people and in a large political or business entity, those people tend to be faceless and therefor they may feel blameless.

            The ability to feel shame and/or blame is accountability.

  • avatar
    carveman

    Here at this site, Solyndra expects to make enough solar panels each year to generate 500 megawatts of electricity. And over the lifetime of this expanded facility, that could be like replacing as many as eight coal-fired power plants

    BHO

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Not every private business venture will be a success. In the tech world, they say that 9 out of 10 startups fail.

      Here’s more about the loan program that Solyndra used:
      http://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKCN0IX0A120141113

      http://www.npr.org/2014/11/13/363572151/after-solyndra-loss-u-s-energy-loan-program-turning-a-profit

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/politics/program-that-funded-solyndra-failure-producing-success-stories/2014/12/30/3e896b46-9074-11e4-a900-9960214d4cd7_story.html

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-28/trump-can-t-kill-solyndra-loan-program-that-outperforms-banks

      TL;DR: government-backed loans to green private businesses paid off, and made a lot of money ($1.65B) for the government, and even more for the businesses involved.

      I guess people keep talking about the story because of the “stupid hippie” aspect. Yawn.

      But the full story is far more interesting AND raises more and deeper questions about the proper role of government than the “stupid hippie” story. For instance, should our government be acting like a venture capitalist? Even if it creates value, is this an American way of doing things? But, alas, most people can’t be bothered to do a few minutes of background reading required to understand the story.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I thought Trump had actually promised to utilize insiders to help him govern, acknowledging his lack of experience with the machinations of government. Pragmatically speaking, you have to do this.

    If he chose all outsiders with no experience, he’d be widely criticized.

    Let’s face it; Trump will be criticized until he leaves office… just like every other President, but even more so, because he’s such an easy target.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    I live in the state her husband is supposedly the senator of. I say “supposedly” because I doubt very little that he spends any significant time here. Otherwise, I’m not going to say anything else as my grandmother taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, I ought not say anything at all.

  • avatar
    markf

    A shame this site has turned into a fever swamp of leftists……

  • avatar
    319583076

    Kudos for an incredibly astute and incomparably articulated observation. Pip pip!

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    This is purely a leverage appointment, nothing more. Trump likely wants Senator Turtle, er, McConnell to play ball and this is the carrot he’s using.

    Transportation Secretary is pretty low on the totem poll as far as presidential appointments go; This was the job Obama gave to his token Republican Ray LaHood. If Trump is serious about infrastructure improvements, I suspect that task will be lead by someone outside the cabinet, anyway. Kinda like how Obama had a “car czar,” etc.

    “Drain the swamp” is a term that originated with Trump’s supporters and something he claimed to initially dislike. And he was right because his supporters all have a coronary every time he selects a non-outsider for some office. At the same time, his opponents will use every non-milquetoast political lifer that he picks as another example of how Trump is stupid and/or Hitler. Catch 22.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Trump set up this catch-22 for himself because of the incoherent and insult-driven campaign he ran.

      There’s a reason that people who know what they’re doing pull some punches and avoid campaigning against half of the people they will need to represent. Over half of the electorate are “liberals”, and picking a fight with them makes it harder to govern[0].

      [0] This was the problem with Romney’s 47% comment, and Hillary’s Deplorables comment. Don’t pick a fight with your future constituents.

  • avatar
    ckb

    Late to the party and commenting in no-read land but just in case someone is both bored AND informed, what the hell does this mean?

    “I’m as optimistic as I’ve been in a long time about the potential she brings to finally get something done on infrastructure,” Ray LaHood

    I’m guessing the reason LaHood couldn’t get something done was republican obstructionism?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      The infrastructure problem is all political. Congress has been all over the place with transportation issues, and since they all require huge amounts of money, the special interests get deep into congressional staffs heads – and staff is where a congressman’s work is done.

      It’ll take a strong political push to set priorities with all the special interests trying to get a finger in the money pie. In the recent past, each raid on the highway trust fund bled off highway/bridge maintenance and reconstruction dollars for bike lanes, light rail (rebuilding the 19th century trolley system), ferries, bus stations and vaguely associated urban projects pushed by local and regional governments.

      Meanwhile, the backlog of substandard bridges that need replacing has reached giant proportions, and the earliest-built parts of the interstate system are well past the 50 year lifespan of the concrete pavement. A moonshot program to repair, upgrade, or replace just the bridges would take 20 years and well over $100 billion/year. Right now there’s no political force to direct that kind of effort and keep it on track over that length of time.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Anyone who needs a clear definition of “draining the swamp” should read the last two pages of Animal Farm.

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