Commerce Cabinet Crisis Deepens

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
March 18 2013 2:26 PM

The Deepening Commerce Cabinet Crisis

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Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank in December

Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

The United States of America last had a secretary of commerce on June 11 of 2012, and now the problem is getting worse. Rebecca Blank, longtime deputy secretary of commerce, has been holding down the fort as acting secretary of commerce since that time. It's long seemed that nominating her to be the official secretary would make a lot of sense. It's also long been rumored that Obama would appoint longtime financial supporter Penny Pritzker to the job. But for months and months neither has happened, and now Blank has been named the next chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

We now must wonder who'll become the new acting secretary. The two options would seem to be undersecretary for industry and security Eric Hirschhorn or undersecretary for economic affairs Mark Doms.*

I personally am rooting for Doms, who used to contribute some excellent blog posts to the Commerce Blog in his previous gig as chief economist at the department. Currently the chief economist job is vacant, as is the deputy undersecretary for economic affairs job, the assistant secretary for legislative affairs job, the assistant secretary for administration job, the Census Bureau director job, the assistant secretary for economic development job, the deputy assistant secretary for economic development job, and a couple of positions (NOAA director, undersecretary for intellectual property, etc.) filled by "acting" people right now.

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Correction, March 18, 2013: This post originally misspelled Eric Hirschhorn's last name.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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