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Michael R. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, and a former mayor of New York City.
President-elect Joe Biden has made a number of excellent selections for his Cabinet — including three who have recently led city halls: Marty Walsh for Labor, Marcia Fudge for Housing and Urban Development and Pete Buttigieg for Transportation. It speaks to how important mayors have become in the work of governing the country, especially as Washington has abdicated its responsibilities for so many years — and also to how effective mayors have been at making progress even without much federal help.
But it’s not just mayors. One of Biden’s latest picks, Gina Raimondo for Commerce secretary, is especially encouraging. The role does not have the highest profile in the Cabinet, but it is one of the most important economic jobs in Washington. The Commerce Department exerts great influence across an array of federal economic policies, with a broad reach that exceeds even that of Treasury.
The department guides policy and directs federal resources on issues ranging across foreign trade, industrial development, technological innovation and climate change. A competent and forceful head of the agency has the platform and the money to make a real difference to the country’s economic prospects. Raimondo, a pro-business Democrat who has experience in both the public and private sector, and who sees economic vitality as an instrument of broad-based and shared prosperity, fits the bill perfectly.
As a successful governor of Rhode Island, she set demanding goals and made real progress — based on a three-part strategy of fiscal control, spending on education and infrastructure, and tireless efforts to attract private investment. She led the state through a politically challenging restructuring of its pension system. That did not always endear her to opponents, but she had the courage to make tough and fair decisions that will benefit workers and taxpayers over the long run.
Under her leadership, Rhode Island brought dozens of large employers to the state and created thousands of high-paying jobs. By picking her, Biden is showing that he recognizes the importance of combining economic success with steps to broaden opportunity. That’s an agenda for the pragmatic pro-enterprise administration our nation needs, and that Biden — with this and other selections — is positioning himself to lead.
Raimondo makes her own case persuasively, and in Rhode Island she put the ideas to work: “We have to find our way to a capitalism where, if you work full time, you’re not poor; you have health care and housing; and your kids can go to a public school that’s decent. If we can get ourselves to that place, capitalism will be sustained.”
Well said — and good for Biden for making a great choice and refusing to bow to pressure from those who are more hostile to the private sector. Raimondo’s Commerce Department can be the leading edge of a strategy to put the U.S. back on the right track.