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In Trump’s Unusual Cabinet, Commerce Secretary Will Run Trade Policy

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In Trump’s Unusual Cabinet, Commerce Secretary Will Run Trade Policy

Trump, Ross, USTR, Commerce Department

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla./WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump plans to put his pick for Commerce Secretary, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, in charge of his get-tough trade policy, a transition team spokesman said on Tuesday.

It is a signal of how Trump, who is also interviewing candidates to be the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), plans to elevate a crackdown on competitors in the world market and the overhaul of trade deals that he says have hurt U.S. factory jobs.

The USTR will not be merged with Commerce, but Trump transition team spokesman Jason Miller made clear that most trade policy decisions would be steered by Ross, who made a good part of his fortune by investing in distressed steel companies that benefited from stiff import tariffs imposed by former President George W. Bush in the early 2000s.

“Mr. Ross not only has negotiated some very good deals over his lifetime, he’s also the person who worked closely with the president-elect on crafting his trade policy over the administration,” Miller told reporters during a daily transition briefing. “Mr. Ross will be playing a big role in any trade particulars in this administration.”

The move also marks a notable shift from how President Barack Obama ran his trade policy.

“It looks like the USTR office is being downgraded and subordinated to Commerce,” said Derek Scissors, a trade expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank in Washington.

“That’s a big change because USTR is this small elite trade agency right across from the White House.”

Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, blamed multilateral trade deals with Mexico and China for the loss of U.S. jobs, a core message during his campaign, and said he would push to renegotiate the agreements.

Trump’s administration is expected to crack down on Chinese trade practices with enforcement cases, which has raised fears Beijing would retaliate.

He has also pledged to hit companies that shift production from the United States to other countries with a 35 percent tax on their exports into the United States — legislation he said his team would soon “write up.”


Trump has picked more than 20 nominees for his cabinet so far, packing his team with billionaires from the business world, retired generals, and loyalists.

He is continuing to interview candidates for his cabinet this week at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach resort, where he will spend the Christmas holiday — including potential picks for the USTR job.

Elevating Ross’ role as Commerce Secretary could make the USTR job less attractive to potential candidates with top-tier trade expertise, said Scissors at the American Enterprise Institute.

Traditionally, the USTR takes the lead on negotiations for trade deals, while Commerce, a massive sprawling agency, handles enforcement actions including anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations of low-cost imports.

On Tuesday, Trump was slated to meet about the USTR position with Jovita Carranza, a consultant who worked to attract support from Hispanic voters during the campaign.

Carranza was a deputy administrator with the Small Business Administration in the George W. Bush White House.

Trump has also discussed the USTR job with Robert Lighthizer, a former deputy USTR during the Reagan administration, and Dan DiMicco, former CEO of steel producer Nucor Corp.

In 2012, Obama proposed to combine Commerce and the USTR with the Small Business Administration, Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation and U.S. Trade and Development Agency in one streamlined department – a plan that was rejected by Congress.

Trump has no plans to merge Commerce with the USTR, Miller said.

(Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

IMAGE: Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, chairman of Invesco Ltd subsidiary WL Ross & Co, arrives at Trump Tower to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in New York, U.S., November 29, 2016.   REUTERS/Mike Segar


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  2. Budjob December 21, 2016

    Six months,and the USA will either implode,or explode,take your choice!

    1. Dan S December 21, 2016

      If we do nothing it’ll implode so I opt for it to explode & fight back Trumps minions

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  3. Dominick Vila December 21, 2016

    Most of the Cabinet nominations that Trump has made involve people determined to shut down or privatize the Departments and Agencies they are going to be in charge of.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker December 21, 2016

      Not to worry. NJ residents are already banging on our AG’s door to remind him that the Federal laws cannot override states rights. If they try to take SS, Medicare and Medicaid, states have every right to sue for the cost of what was paid by state citizens. This is money that the Federal government deducted from our wages. They do not get autonomous control over payroll deductions. Do that and the states rights lawsuits will put the federal rabid dogs in their place.

      NJ already has a state income tax, state medicare and state Medicaid payroll deduction. It is just as easy to refuse any money on the federal level and pump federal deductions into state programs. The Republicans want all of us to think we have NO CHOICE. Wrong. Karma says for every action there is a reaction.

      1. Dan S December 21, 2016

        Karmas a bitch & she is going to stay busy with payback to Trump & his minions

        1. Eleanore Whitaker December 22, 2016

          I laughed and laughed when I heard Trump’s response to the attack in Germany, “Just stop it.” Yep..Now ISIS and ISIL and all of the world’s terrorists will just bow down to their Emperor and all terrorism magically ends. Wow! If this isn’t a commentary on how minds bent too far right are living out their fantasies, I can’t imagine what more proof we will need.

          As to Trump himself? Already, we are gearing up to fight any possible takeover of the East Coast by oil mad maniacs. Not going to happen. If they want a Civil War over it. That’s what they will get. We already pay higher taxes just so our people on the East Coast are not breathing oil polluted air.

          1. David December 22, 2016

            Eleanore!!! It’s ‘President Trump”. Get used to it. You will be saying it for the next eight years!

          2. Robert A. Clemons December 25, 2016


      2. Dominick Vila December 21, 2016

        The easiest choice, if the GOP tries to get rid or privatize the social programs that millions of senior citizens and the poor benefit from, will be in 2020. I suspect they are well aware of the backlash they will get if they over reach, which is why, with the exception of the ACA, most changes to social programs will be superficial. Seniors are one of the most important voting blocks in the USA, and most will not be silent or ambivalent if their livelihoods are threatened. For that matter, the middle age Americans who will get stuck with elderly parents and grandparents, will not be either.

        1. Eleanore Whitaker December 22, 2016

          I don’t think it can wait till 2020. That’s why here in NJ, there are already several planned protests after the holidays at our state house. NJ has to be protected from men whose greed who endanger our children’s futures.

          NJ is a high maintenance state. Over 250,000 people have already moved out of state and over the line into NY because of Chris Christie and his bully Republicans.

          Why on earth would we just knuckle under to Republicans at any level? We are equal to them across the board. Their use of their majority as the way to beat us into shape is not going to work. They keep that up and the word secession will not sound so far fetched.

        2. Eleanore Whitaker December 23, 2016

          Actually, something quite unusual has occurred. Another 2 million more people have just in the last months signed on to the ACA. That makes it far more difficult for the GOP to just dump them off. 25 million without affordable healthcare insurance is not peanuts.

          Trump’s unpresidented presidency is already under attack from several covert groups. Hack into elections and rig the outcome and Americans are not going to just flip a switch and pretend it wasn’t the Republicans who own that election rigging. McConnell is desperate to stop any investigation. Little boys with their hands in the cookie jar usually do try to hide their guilt.

          1. Dominick Vila December 23, 2016

            The problem is that Trump, and most elected Republicans, have made so many promises to their constituents, especially repealing the ACA, that they can’t backoff without repercussions.What will really hurt them is if they try to privatize SS and MEDICARE. The backlash from seniors would be incredible, and seniors vote. Don’t be surprised if they back off some of their promises, but I am afraid the ACA is not going to be something they can extricate themselves from without losing credibility…and support.

          2. Eleanore Whitaker December 23, 2016

            I so agree. Look at who he chose for the Dept. of Labor appointee…a guy who is anti minimum wage. How does that help the Republicans in those Walmartian jobs?

            For years now, all I’ve seen is that in their vain effort to sink Dem states with their mindless austerity games, all they’ve done is hurt their own. That’s why they know for a fact that if they sink these safety nets, all we have to do in individual states to demand our AGs sue the federal for all of the monies we have paid. States do have the right to sue the fed. It isn’t as if the Republicans have not tried to sue Obama and his administration before.

            Don’t you love it? Every time the Republican go all vengeance, it ends up biting them in their own butts. Theirs are the states that will suffer most and already are. The Republican House majority over the last 8 years has flushed 65% of every tax dollar to their states. To what end? KS, IA, OK, NC, LA, FL, KY and TN all are on their knees in financial debt. How can that be if their states get the lion’s share of our tax dollars? You can see where the next Revolutionary War is going to start..with Dem states fed up working to keep Republican states afloat.

      3. David December 22, 2016

        Eleanore!!! Gee, every time you make a post, you remind everyone of just how stupid your high school education has left you. “The Federal laws cannot override state’s rights.” Really? Try reading Article VI of the US Constitution. It is known as the ‘Supremacy Clause’. And guess whose law is superior? It ain’t the states! The more you post, the more it is obvious that you are not so much of a liar as just stupid. Example — have you Googled it now so that you understand that Texas was an independent nation. With its own army and currency? Have you Googled it now so that you understand that Timothy McVeigh was born and raised in New York — not Oklahoma? Have you Googled it now so that you understand electoral votes are not apportioned among the States based on ‘density’ of population, but on actual number? Have you Googled it now so that you understand that Texas has more than twice the electoral votes than New Joisey? Please, post something more so that we can be entertained with your senile imbecility!

        1. Eleanore Whitaker December 23, 2016

          For a little boy who has more people disagreeing with you, I’d say you, not I, are the one who is a moron. Do they teach boys in Texas how to use pay toilet yet?

          As for the rest of your post, I get my information about States Rights from a Constitutional law professor at Rutgers. You? You get it from Pretty Boy Perry and that other Texas moron, Swaggering drawling Texas Tom DeLay who got his butt thrown out as Speaker for playing games with Abramoff and trying to cheat the Native Americans at their midwest casino. But you will always deny truth right Mr. Maniac?

          The fact is that the very Constitutional states rights you hicks use to avoid obeying federal laws time and again are the same ones WE now intend to sink your states into the oil holes you’ve poked all over.

          Wake up Exclamation Points. You make a fool of yourself every time you post. Amendment I “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

          So Mr. Phony Cowboy with your spats, spurs, chaps and ten gallon, Our state AGs are charged with the duty of protecting OUR states rights. The only time that isn’t true is when states rights include any part of federal law.

          YOu forget moron…any state AG can call a referendum to change state laws to exclude federal laws. YOu asked for what you are about to get. You and your Texas BIG shots thought you could manipulate the Electoral College. When the state of Wyoming with a population has a 325% more Electoral college voting power than New York, you hicks thought you would get away with reversing the SOLE intent of the Electoral College…to ensure that states with the smallest populations had equal voice in elections.

          Remember that at the time the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College there were 13 states and these WERE the most populated. Decades after, when several other less populated like OH, KY and others joined the union, the Founding Fathers realized the most populated states had the voting advantage and that is the birth of the Electoral College.

          Now you asshats of the right had done just the opposite. Gerrymandered and redistricted voting areas in your states to make it appear there are more Republicans than there actually are.

          Sorry if they don’t teach US history in Texas. The Alamo is not actually US history as you pointed out…your state was not a state when old moron Sam Houston thought, as you do, he was such a big time hot shot.

  4. Eleanore Whitaker December 21, 2016

    These “picks” have to be approved by the US Senate. Trump has no power over the US Senate. He is the Executive Branch, they are the legislative branch. As such he doesn’t dare open his mouth if any of his “picks” are rejected by even one single Senator be it Dem or GOP.

    1. Dominick Vila December 21, 2016

      Very true. Unfortunately, with the GOP in control of the Senate, and most Republicans terrified of Trump, I doubt there are going to be too many desertions. They are going to follow the party line for fear of a backlash at home.

  5. yabbed December 21, 2016

    Doofus Donald’s ignorance of the world is going to hurt America quite badly, perhaps injure us beyond repair.

    1. Dan S December 21, 2016

      Yup your right. I know it’s not always the smart thing to say but it appears quite apparent we’re heading towards a new Civil War. This country hasn’t been this divided since the last one. The racists and a lot worse have risen up emboldened to trample on the rights of people who can’t defend themselves & we need to help everyone who’s being threatened whether it’s the Government or our next door neighbor. We’re not going down without a fight. Our forefathers fought for our freedoms & we cant afford to lose it now

      1. Otto T. Goat December 21, 2016

        A new Civil War sounds like fun.

        1. Andor Trayven December 21, 2016

          You’ll be one of the first to fall, dimwit.

          1. Otto T. Goat December 21, 2016

            The sight of guns scare you people, yet you think you can wage a Civil War. Hilarious.

          2. iamproteus December 23, 2016

            Otto, if you really believe that liberals are scared of the sight of guns just because we want reasonable controls in place, you are every bit as stupid as you appear to be. We have guns and know how to use them…we just don’t worship them.

  6. Andor Trayven December 21, 2016

    Here come the trade wars! Followed shortly thereafter by the shooting ones…. I wonder how long it will take until the suckers who elected this idiot wake up?


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