Biden’s Pick To Run the Commerce Department Is No Progressive
In nominating Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to run the Commerce Department, President-elect Joe Biden has picked a pragmatic, centrist Democrat who understands the value of capitalism and who has a track record of standing up to public-sector unions.
First as the state’s treasurer and then as governor, a post she’s held since 2015, Raimondo has gained a reputation for bucking lefty special interests that typically dominate Democratic politics—no easy task in what’s perhaps America’s bluest state. She commissioned an independent analysis of the state’s pension system in 2011 that revealed it had less than half of the long-term assets needed to remain solvent. That started a years-long effort to reform the system, despite the opposition of public sector unions. Raimondo succeeded by building a political coalition and bringing the looming crisis to the public’s attention.
Raimondo also took on the public school establishment in Rhode Island. She blocked the passage of a bill that would have effectively banned the creation of new charter schools in the state, then backed efforts to expand charter schools in parts of the state.
As the head of the federal Commerce Department, Raimondo probably won’t have much to say or do about school choice or pensions, of course. Still, her clear-eyed prioritization of economically sound policies in the face of opposition from the left is a welcome sign—particularly after four years in which the Commerce Department was used to implement politically motivated attacks on free trade and the once-per-decade census. Raimondo and Biden should act swiftly to undo the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, despite what some progressive Democrats would prefer.
Raimondo is not without some serious blemishes—notably her close ties to Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and longtime libertarian nemesis—but her selection seems to indicate that Biden is seeking to return the Commerce Dep
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