Democrats should be more freaked out about Wilbur Ross

Democrats should be more freaked out about Wilbur Ross

Today's confirmation hearings for Trump Commerce Secretary pick Wilbur Ross were a colossal disappointment, in terms of how the Democrats on the committee handled them. Two committee members—Blumenthal and Udall—did an admirable job of pushing Ross for his opinions on Trump's refusal to divest his holdings. Other Democrats, however, seemed more interested in pushing their pet issues than pressing the most serious objections to Ross's appointment.

It's understandable why the Democrats didn't want to make a do-or-die effort to block Ross. He's clearly one of Trump's most knowledgeable picks, if not the most knowledgeable. A clown like Betsy DeVos is a much easier topic. The question is, though, whether Ross will apply that knowledge to doing his job honestly—or whether he'll use it to further Trump's corrupt agenda.

DeVos is an unqualified rich idiot with questionable policy ideas, but she's not an unqualified rich idiot who shows any signs of being particularly loyal to Trump. Ross, on the other hand, saved Trump's bacon when one of Trump's casinos was failing in the 90s, and seems to largely owe his position to that fact. Worse, when Blumenthal pushed Ross on how he would deal with the many decisions he could make as Commerce Secretary that might impact Trump's net worth, Ross responded—and this is a direct quote—"Everyone will be watching all of those matters, and therefore they will certainly be subject to public scrutiny." In other words, Ross isn't worried about these niggling ethics concerns because he's sure someone else will be watching them.

This, of course, ignores the fact that as Commerce Secretary, Ross will be much better positioned to take action—for good or ill—on these issues than outside watchdogs like oh, say, CNN's Jim Acosta (who Trump has been feuding with lately). This should horrify every principled member of the Senate (and be like blood to a shark for opportunistic Democrats), but other members of the committee seemed more interested in getting promises from Ross on the minutia of trade policy.

Of course, to a degree this is not the Democrats fault. With the GOP double-booking confirmation hearings, to some extent they have to make decisions about where to focus people's attention. I can understand why they would focus on the likes of DeVos, even if I disagree. This is why I think opponents of Trump need to tell the Senate to start blocking Trump's picks across the board—at least until some of these broader conflict-of-interest issues are resolved (for example, by Trump releasing his taxes).

As always, the number for the capitol switchboard is (202) 224-3121. Call now before the Senate starts voting.

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