STATEMENT: President-Elect Trump Pledged to Improve Americans’ Lives, But His Commerce Nominee Made Billions on the Backs of Workers, Says CAP’s Marc Jarsulic
Washington, D.C. — Marc Jarsulic, Vice President for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement today on President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee, Wilbur Ross, to serve as the next U.S. secretary of commerce:
President-elect Trump’s nomination of Wilbur Ross for commerce secretary is yet another betrayal of his oft-repeated campaign promise to improve the lives of working-class Americans. Ross made his billions by doing the exact opposite: purchasing companies, slashing workers’ wages, and eliminating retired miners’ benefits. Ross claims that U.S. businesses are overburdened by regulation, but it was in his own mine—Sago—that 12 miners lost their lives after his company ignored repeated federal safety citations. And while Trump vowed that he would bring manufacturing jobs back, his nominee for commerce secretary has a history of laying off American workers while opening factories in Mexico and China.
Ross’ hefty investment portfolio poses a tremendous conflict of interest for his nomination—something that’s becoming de rigueur in a Trump administration that has yet to even take office. Congress must insist that Ross divest himself from his portfolio, lest he potentially use the Commerce Department’s extensive powers over trade enforcement to benefit his own companies. Trump seems extraordinarily likely to personally profit from the presidency, and it is all the more vital that Congress not permit his Cabinet to follow Trump’s shameful example.
The commerce secretary pick, who appeared unable to distinguish between weather and climate, also claimed that it’s “baloney” to be able to forecast climate change. If confirmed, he will oversee the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, where top scientists use satellite and other data to monitor and understand climate change, weather, coastal restoration, and fisheries. This dismissive approach to climate change is no accident, since Ross made billions of dollars buying and selling coal mines. Then again, there is a low bar set for an administration whose leader has claimed that climate change is a Chinese hoax.
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