Friday, December 05, 2008

Commerce Sec. Richardson & Trade

marjorie says...

I know you guys religiously read the NMI, but just in case you missed my bit about Richardson here it is (the second half, about trade, is the most interesting. free trade discussion, anyone?).

Commerce post will test Richardson's free-trade reputation

When the news that Bill Richardson would be named commerce secretary came out, political pundits immediately starting characterizing it as a “demotion.” His impressive resume was referenced as proof that such a gig just isn’t good enough. An angered Latino punditry claimed that the Latino community was being slighted by Obama’s Cabinet choices, compounded by the delay in announcing Richardson for the Commerce gig. Ruben Navarrette Jr. encapsulates these views by calling Richardson’s appointment not only a “snub” but being “slapped again” because many believe Richardson was second choice for the position.

As though joining the Cabinet is a personality contest. As though Richardson isn’t assuming a position of considerable power.

Richardson is probably getting exactly what he wants, short of secretary of state. As any cursory examination of Richardson’s activities during his years as governor shows, he has a significant interest in economic development. And the goal of the U.S. Commerce Department is to foster and promote U.S. industry, both at home and abroad. This is probably the reason its such a gargantuan department, with innumerable “bureaus” in what Politico describes as a “sprawling bureaucratic fiefdom.”

Richardson will be the head honcho in charge of the next U.S. Census — the one that sets the stage for a decade of statistical wrangling. In fact, Commerce accumulates, synthesizes, and spits back out a huge amount of data about the U.S. economy and population. It also administers the Patent and Trademark office, not to mention the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. You know, the “Internet.” The list goes on.

The point is that the Commerce Department is a grab-bag that ultimately makes sense. It’s about keeping the economy cranking — data and infrastructure are a big part of that, as is trade. And it’s a place that some think is well-suited for Richardson’s next move.

Read the rest here.