Donald Trump garnered widespread support among lower-income families across the United States with his promises to wrench the government's power away from the wealthy elites that have long controlled most decisions at the highest levels. His supporters seem to have voted him into office on this populist platform, which was a cornerstone of his presentation on the campaign trail. However, according to research by Quartz, president-elect Trump's picks for top level positions in governmental cabinets, his early actions seem to have already broken this promise. In fact, the 17 cabinet leaders Trump's team tapped have a collective net worth of roughly $9.5 billion, more than one out of three households in the United States combined.

Astounding and Unprecedented Levels of Wealth at the Highest Levels

In stark contrast to Trump's promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington, D.C. of elite and wealthy individuals perceived to be out of touch with the primary needs of lower income Americans, the president-elect has gone in the exact opposite direction. Quartz's report indicates that Trump's cabinet leaders' wealth outstrips any similar group in recent history. Quartz based its data, which estimates that the 17 cabinet nominees have fortunes greater than the combined wealth of the 43 million least wealthy U.S. households, on the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances conducted by the Federal Reserve. Although this data is three years old at this point, Quartz acknowledges that trends in recent decades have suggested that the data is likely to hold true at this point as well.

Debt Influences Totals

Quartz points out that 13% of all households in the United States have net wealth of zero or less on account of debt. The one third of households accounted for in the report includes these households as well as those with a small amount of positive wealth. Still, even if the cabinet appointee net wealth were to be compared to median household wealth in the country, the contrast in fortunes is extreme. Quartz suggests that 120,000 households with the U.S. median net worth level of roughly $83,200 would have to combine their fortunes to equal the wealth of the four top earning members of Trump's circle. These individuals, Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Jr., Linda McMahon, and Rex Tillerson, come from a variety of backgrounds, but each of them is easily within the ranks of the highest earners in the country.

Will Trump's nominees for top cabinet posts stay true to his word to keep the interests of the lower income families across the country at heart? Or will they prove to be the most elite band of government leaders the country has ever seen? Trump's supporters are likely hoping for the former, though Trump himself has suggested the latter is far more likely.

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