Reid on Trump's Cabinet picks: 'Quite frankly, scary'

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Story highlights

  • Harry Reid advises fellow Senate Democrats to pick fights strategically with the new President.
  • The retiring Nevadan said there could compromise with Donald Trump on trade

The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works for the podcast.

Washington (CNN)Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says he finds President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet lineup "scary."

"We can go through the list of people he's already chosen and it's, quite frankly, scary," Reid told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files" podcast, produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
Reid, who retires this week after 34 years in Congress, expressed concern about Trump's Cabinet so far: that Betsy DeVos, Trump's choice for education secretary, hasn't had any personal experience with public education; that Tom Price, his nominee for Health and Human Services, "has avowed to privatize Medicare and wants to do away with Planned Parenthood;" and that "you have what looks like some kind of an auction going on for secretary of state; I don't quite get that."
Though Reid is hardly sanguine about the prospect of a Trump presidency, he advises fellow Senate Democrats to pick fights strategically with the new President.
"I told them what they have to do is to make sure that they're constructive in their negativity," Reid said.
Reid said Senate Democrats would need to stand firm on issues of principle — such as Trump's proposed tax cuts, the environment and immigration — but they should not reject worthy ideas simply because they were offered by a Republican.
"There are any number of things that they have to fight hard on," Reid said. "But they're not going to be the Republicans (and) just oppose Republican issues just because (it's) a Republican idea. I don't think they should do that."
One area of possible agreement, Reid signaled, could be on matters of trade. Reid said he wouldn't agree with Trump's proposal to impose a 35% tariff on companies that move jobs overseas to then try to sell goods in America, but the Senate leader said there could be common ground on doing away with tax breaks companies receive when, for instance, they move their operations overseas.
"We've tried to get (that) passed year after year after year," Reid said. "We've tried to do that. So of course Democrats would join with that."
To hear the whole conversation with Reid, which also covers his humble roots in Searchlight, Nevada, the historic moments he experienced as a Capitol Police officer; his areas of disagreement with President Barack Obama; his run-ins with organized crime as Nevada Gaming Commissioner; and his pick for the finest legislator he ever worked with, click on http://podcast.cnn.com. To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at http://itunes.com/theaxefiles.