Personnel Is Policy

And if we’re fortunate enough not to have a second Trump term, we need to pay attention to whom Biden appoints to key positions. In terms of economics, Robert Kuttner points out what rank-and-file Democrats need to get ready to yell at Biden about:

…pay very close attention to whom you name to the key economic Cabinet power posts. Those would be the secretaries of Treasury, Commerce, Labor, U.S. trade representative, and budget director. Typically, Democratic presidents find a Wall Streeter to lead Treasury, a business mogul to head Commerce, and a deficit hawk at OMB.

Obama named Tim Geithner to the former and billionaire Penny Pritzker to the latter. The trade job has also typically gone to someone who is in the tank for Wall Street and the hyper-globalization lobby—Mike Froman under Obama. Labor is treated as a second-tier job. So the battle for progressive economic policies is over before it starts.

If Biden wants to be as good as his recent, very progressive words, he needs to change these patterns of political capture. Elevate labor secretary. Name a Treasury secretary committed to reining in Wall Street, not enabling it. Find a commerce secretary who believes in industrial policy; and a trade rep who really believes in the great statement Biden put out on rebuilding domestic manufacturing.

At the end of the day, when an administration takes shape, campaign policy papers don’t matter. Personnel does.

No more conservative or Republican daddies (and mommies!) to appear respectable. It’s our fucking turn.

Biden is better than Trump, but we’re going to have to protest him too. I’m not young anymore (to say the least), and the one thing I’ve learned about New Democrats, and Biden is definitely one, is that they will have to be dragged kicking and screaming in order to get them to do the right thing.

Making sure he appoints good people is one of those things, and no mulligans on this, because we’re still waiting for our ‘peace dividend.’ (the olds will remember that…)

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1 Response to Personnel Is Policy

  1. Bob Bancroft says:

    How about a democrat for Sec. Defense for once?!!! If a wanted a Republican, I’d vote republican.

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