Commerce Department without a leader for five months
I guess a cabinet department whose mission statement reads, in part, that it is responsible for "job creation, economic growth, and improved standards of living for all Americans..." isn't that important to the economic recovery to warrant naming a replacement for John Bryson who resigned suddenly on June 21.
Rep. Lee Terry writing in the Washington Times:
We have heard a lot from President Obama about raising taxes, health care reform, Republican obstructionism and controversial nominees for Cabinet posts that currently are filled. However, we have not heard much from him about whom he plans to nominate to lead the agency tasked with implementing important policies that affect American workers and businesses every day. Coincidentally, this is the only agency without a leader in Mr. Obama's Cabinet. It is unfortunate that the American people have been left to rely on vague media reports detailing conversations the president may have had with candidates who won't confirm or deny they spoke with him. If the president thinks the Commerce Department is a serious agency, it is time for him to get serious about filling this vacancy with a qualified candidate.
America's economy is in a delicate state. Unemployment has remained stubbornly high at around 8 percent for the past several years. The U.S. trade deficit in September was measured at $41.5 billion - more than $10 billion higher than it was two years earlier, in September 2000 - and our nation's industrial production has been stagnant. These indicators, taken in concert with each passing day edging us closer to the "fiscal cliff," should serve as not-so-subtle reminders to the president that now, more than ever, is the time for decisive leadership, both at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and at the Commerce Department.
The American business sector needs a secretary of commerce who can help create the consistency needed to create jobs domestically and give businesses the assurance needed to take risks, expand operations and make investments in capital. Our government doesn't need a "secretary of business," as the president suggested recently during his campaign. Our government needs a commerce secretary, someone who can bring to bear significant experience in the business world and serve as the chief advocate in Washington for business owners. We need someone who can help bureaucrats and many in Congress understand that patchwork fixes are not the answer but part of the problem. We need a leader who will create policies encouraging job creators, fixing unemployment, creating a trade surplus and jump-starting manufacturing and industrial production.
Not that Obama has noticed that there is no Commerce Secretary. He meets with star athletes and celebrities far more often than he meets with his cabinet. Priorities, don't you know. Why bother asking what the Commerce Department can do to boost the economy when you've got Jay-Z to advise you?
For sure, Commerce is not one of the sexier cabinet departments. All those numbers and graphs and stuff. Perhaps the president is having a hard time finding a pro-business supporter of his who wants the job. There aren't too many of them to choose from.
Then again, maybe we have a lazy president who keeps putting the decision off because he'd rather play golf or go on vacation. So let's not rush him. Lord knows who he might choose if he's under pressure.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky