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On Monday, May 15, President Donald Trump’s final cabinet choice was sworn in, Robert Lighthizer as US Trade Representative:

That day, buoyant housing market results were released (emphases mine):

New home sales have been one of this year’s best surprises and home builders are reporting strong activity this month and see even better times ahead. The housing market index topped expectations in May, rising 2 points to 70. Current sales are also up 2 points to 76 with 6-month sales up 4 points to a very strong 79. And traffic, in a key reading, is at 51 and over breakeven 50 for the 5th time in the last six months. The West leads the regions with a 3-month composite score of 80 with the Northeast trailing at 50.

Even though traffic is nearly 30 points behind sales, it is still the highlight of the report. This is its best run by far of the expansion and offers a hopeful hint that first-time buyers, who have been priced out of the new home market, may begin to be a factor. Today’s report is a plus heading into tomorrow’s housing starts report where similar strength is expected.

Returning to cabinet choices, it has taken Trump an eternity to get his nominees approved.

Although past presidents in living memory also faced one or two significant delays, a useful chart from CNBC shows that nearly all — from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama — had the bulk of their appointments confirmed within 60 days, generally sooner.

During the Obama presidency, there were only two major delays. His choice of Gary Locke for Commerce did not receive confirmation until April 2009. Kathleen Sebelius did not receive confirmation to Obama’s cabinet until May that year.

Outside of those exceptions, however, it actually has taken a record amount of time for President Trump to get his nominees confirmed.

At least his cabinet is now in place.

The title of the United States Trade Representative is Ambassador, by the way. Lighthizer is the 18th person to take on that role:

At the time he was chosen by President Trump to serve as USTR, Ambassador Lighthizer was a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (Skadden), where he practiced international trade law for over 30 years. His work there on behalf of American workers and businesses in the heavy manufacturing, agricultural, high-tech, and financial services industries opened markets to U.S. exports and defended U.S. industries from unfair trade practices. He was lead counsel for scores of trade enforcement cases and was a well-known advocate for the type of “America First” trade policies supported by President Trump.

Before joining Skadden, Ambassador Lighthizer served as Deputy USTR for President Ronald Reagan. During his tenure, Ambassador Lighthizer negotiated over two dozen bilateral international agreements, including agreements on steel, automobiles, and agricultural products.  As Deputy USTR, he also served as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Prior to becoming Deputy USTR, Ambassador Lighthizer was Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee on Finance for Chairman Bob Dole.  In this position, he was a key player in enacting the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which was the most significant tax reform in decades, as well as the other basic elements of the Reagan economic program.

Ambassador Lighthizer earned a Bachelor’s degree at Georgetown University and his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center. He is a native of Ashtabula, Ohio and has two children. 

He looks too young to have all that experience behind him. He will bring a wealth of knowledge to the role. Check for further news on Twitter.

In other news, Trump’s overseas trip has given him a boost in US presidential popularity, at least with Rasmussen. Bear in mind that most polling companies have not been honest in their polling methods, e.g. favouring Democrats over Independents and Republicans. Matt Drudge tweeted:

OK. Trump approval pops to 48% today… Obama Averaged 47.9% Job Approval as President..

The Rasmussen link says, in summary, that the visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel, particularly when the Manchester bombing took place on Monday, got voters thinking more about the dangers of terrorism. Voters tend to agree with Trump that the Saudis need to do more to fight terror. They also think that a good relationship with Israel is essential to the prospect of peace in the Middle East.

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