[Leer en español]
President-elect Joe Biden announced the last positions that will make up his economic cabinet on Friday, so the positions for Secretaries of Labor, Commerce and the Small Business Administration are no longer vacant.
Biden has announced Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo as his Secretary of Commerce; Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Secretary of Labor; and Isabel Guzmán, California economic development official to head the Small Business Administration. He also appointed his former economic adviser Don Graves as his Under Secretary of Commerce.
Despite the fact that the Donald Trump Administration set a record for lowering unemployment rates for both African-Americans and Latinos (achieving the lowest unemployment rates in 50 years and the lowest poverty rate on record), Biden says his new Cabinet will help America’s “economic crisis” caused by the Chinese coronavirus.
“They will help us emerge from the most inequitable economic and employment crisis in modern history by building an economy where every American is on the deal,” Biden said in a statement.”This team shares my belief that the middle class built this country and that the unions built the middle class.”
“They know how to work with states, cities, small towns and tribal communities, together with workers, employers and businesses to do things for American workers,” he added.
Walsh is a former head of the Boston Building and Construction Trades Council with close ties to unions. Meanwhile, Raimondo, a former venture capitalist, has focused on building relationships with businesses during her time as governor, a job she has held since 2015.
The Commerce Department comprises a variety of agencies, including the Census Bureau, which conducts the 10-year count and produces economic data; the International Trade Administration, which monitors global unfair competition from dumping and subsidies and enforces U.S. trade laws; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, home of the National Weather Service; and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Raimondo and his team will inherit various policies enforced by the Trump government against Chinese technology companies. In particular, the current administration instituted an export ban on Huawei Technologies that requires U.S. companies to obtain government licenses before they are allowed to sell U.S. technology and intellectual property to the Chinese giant.
During the Trump administration, the Department of Commerce was repurposed as a central player in the President’s multi-pronged global trade war, led by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
Last month, Commerce added 77 more Chinese companies to its “sanctioned list” in response to China’s “corrupt and intimidating behavior” and its merging of civilian technology companies with its growing military.
An article published by journalist Brad Polumbo for FEE cites a study by four Stanford University economists analyzing Biden’s proposals. It concludes that such economic interventions by the government would distort labor incentives, decrease productivity and kill jobs.
It remains to be seen what measures the new Cabinet will take in a Democratic administration that has been described as a step towards socialism by many Republicans and Trump supporters.