Wasserman Schultz vows to stand in opposition to Donald Trump
By Anthony Man
The transition from outgoing to incoming president continued Monday, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, transitioned from outspokenT advocate for one president to vocal critic of another.
"Donald Trump isn't draining the swamp, he's siphoning it into his administration," Wasserman Schultz said at a news conference at which she pledged to stand in opposition to both policies supported by the president-elect and many of the people he's selected for top positions in his administration.
The call to "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C., was one of the most popular among the crowds that attended Trump's rallies during the presidential campaign.
Wasserman Schultz said many of the people Trump plans to nominate for his cabinet "really seem intent on presiding over the unwinding of the very responsibilities for which their agency exists to help make sure that we can protect people and their quality of life. I'm not going to stand for it as a member of Congress. I'm not going to stand for it as a leader in this community. And I will take every opportunity that I can to stand in the breach to do all I can to block him."
Richard DeNapoli, the elected Republican state committeeman for Broward County and an early Trump supporter, said people wanted the change that the new president is bringing.
"Trump is putting his unique stamp on who he's picking, and I think they're going to do a good job," DeNapoli said. "It's time for a change, and I think that's what America voted for. We've had eight years of Debbie Wasserman Schultz's way."
Wasserman Schultz, who was President Barack Obama's national Democratic Party chairwoman from 2011 until this summer, said Trump isn't entitled to place anyone he wants in any job and reverse decades of public policy. "I'm a member of Congress. The Founding Fathers created three branches of government that are co-equal," she said.
As a practical matter, DeNapoli said, with Republicans controlling the House and Senate, Wasserman Schultz isn't going to be able to block Trump's agenda or personnel picks.
Wasserman Schultz said one ofher obligations is to use her office to alert people to what Trump is up to. "It's my job to make sure that I sound the alarm bell."
She has a base from which she can stand in opposition. Matt Isbell of MCI maps, a data analyst who advises Democrats, wrote on his website that Democrat Hillary Clinton won Wasserman Schultz's Broward/Miami-Dade County congressional district 61.4 percent to 35.6 percent. Statewide, Trump won 49 percent to 47.8 percent for Clinton.
Wasserman Schultz drew several lines in the sand, vowing to do whatever she could to stop things she said would end up "dramatically harming the lives of the people I represent." Among the things she said are unacceptable is repeal of Obamacare (something Trump promised to do if elected) and changing the Medicare system through privatization or vouchers (something Wasserman Schultz referred to as coupons).
Wasserman Schultz said she wanted to give Trump a chance even though "he campaigned on a platform of sexism, misogyny, religious intolerance and divisive rhetoric that demeaned immigrants and women and blew dog whistles to bigots and anti-Semites. … Now, nearly one month after the election, I'm deeply concerned about this administration."
The congresswoman appeared in the courtyard outside Pembroke Pines City Hall with an array of people she said would be hurt by Trump policies.
• Anna Fusco, president of the Broward Teachers Union, excoriated Trump's pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, as someone who would cause great harm to traditional public schools by shifting money to profit-making interests that run charter schools.
• Elvira Castillo, 24, of Miami, who has received medical services at Planned Parenthood, said she was worried that she and her friends would be cut off from health care because anti-abortion Republicans have been pushing to cut off government money to Planned Parenthood, even for services that have nothing to do with providing abortions.
• Fidelia Baltazar, 25, of Pompano Beach. who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico at age 4, said she is worried about Trump's policies on immigration and how the new president might change Obama's policies that stemmed deportations of so-called Dreamers, who came to the U.S. as children. Baltazar, a mother of children ages 7 and 4 who are U.S. citizens, is worried about the family's future under Trump.
• Marty Ireland, 72, of Plantation, said any attempts to privatize the Medicare health program would deal a devastating blow to seniors. He also praised Obamacare, which he said allowed his daughter to find affordable health insurance in spite of a pre-existing condition that limited her to expensive insurance plans before the Affordable Care Act became law.
Wasserman Schultz was especially critical of DeVos, the pick for education secretary; U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., for health and human services; and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for attorney general. She was also skeptical about the nomination of Ben Carson of West Palm Beach, the unsuccessful presidential candidate-turned-Trump backer, as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which was formally announced Monday.
And she condemned Trump's pick as his chief White House strategist. Stephen Bannon, who was Trump's campaign chairman, was CEO of Breitbart, a conservative website that has been criticized for headlines and articles seen by many as racist, demeaning to women and anti-Semitic.