Media baron and businessman Michael Bloomberg should be chosen as the Biden administration’s treasury secretary.
There are a lot of pluses in giving the former Solomon Brothers man the nod. Already extremely wealthy, he has proven to be a most effective public sector leader, credited with doing a good job as mayor of New York.
It is said that the urbane Bloomberg would bristle at having to navigate his way through bureaucratic red tape and the politics of state office. He has already gone through that, serving three terms as mayor.
With the dollar at a 10-year low, high unemployment and an economy ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bloomberg’s fiscal prudence is what is needed at this time. The financial affairs of the world’s largest economy must be managed by a safe pair of hands, someone who is not too doctrinaire and inspires confidence. Whom better than Bloomberg?
Though a Democrat, Bloomberg remains at the periphery of the party. He is the rich uncle who always bails the family out but is never invited to weddings, baptisms or barbeques. What better time to reserve a seat for him and make him a plate and pour Uncle Mike a cold one.
He shouldn’t simply serve as a beast of burden, a cash machine for the Democrats. He brings considerably more to the table.
It is time to move him to the epicenter and give him a seat in the inner Cabinet.
His politics are not too dissimilar to Biden’s and his experience will be of enormous benefit to the new administration. Public health, urban infrastructure, gun control and greater environmental awareness are issues a Biden administration has to focus upon. Bloomberg has repeatedly declared the importance of these issues and how they should be undertaken. As Secretary of the Treasury he will know best how to put fiscal wheels under them.
The progressive wing of the party may baulk at Bloomberg as Treasury head pick, sniggering at his patrician demeanour and fiscal conservatism. They are wrong here. The United States needs a course correction; a return to tranquility, civility and confidence. It doesn’t need flights of fancy or radical departures that lead to the mismanagement of the economy.
Defund the police? Mass protests? Let’s burn down the system? As Blomberg once said: “It’s no fun to protest on an empty stomach.” Americans must get back to work and be in a position to continually feed and look after their families. Bloomberg gets that.
Trump may have lost the election but Trumpism was not convincingly repudiated. More than 70 million Americans voted for Trump, eight million more than those who supported him in 2016. This demonstrates that a strong conservative strain still exists. Many of them, including leading Republicans like Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse, Mitch McConnell, Ron Johnson and Susan Collins may not find Bloomberg unpalatable.
They would all agree with him when he said: “The cold harsh reality is that we have to balance the budget.”
Prudence and the ability to take a set square to the economy must be the order of the day as the U.S. sees its way to a post COVID-19 era.
Time and again America’s infrastructure has been found woefully inadequate and this has not escape Bloomberg’s attention.
He once reflected: “You know if you look back in the 1930s, the money went to infrastructure. The bridges, the municipal buildings, the roads, those were all built with stimulus money spent on infrastructure. The stimulus bill has fundamentally gone, started out with a US$500 rebate cheque remember. That went to buy flat-screen TVs made in China.”
The country will be getting a treasury secretary who believes that good jobs can only be created if the United States makes smarter investments in infrastructure and does more to support small businesses, not make life more difficult for them.
Many people tend to concentrate on Michael Bloomberg’s net worth of US$55 billion and not his accomplishments and his no-nonsense approach to getting the job done. This is an attribute for someone holding the position of treasury secretary.
Biden will need the support of corporate America and some of its biggest players and Bloomberg knows them all. He is more than a worthy successor to the likes of Larry Summers (former chief economist at the World Bank) and Hank Paulson (former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs) as treasury secretary.
Paulson, speaking with David Rubinstein, once said: “Climate change poses an enormous risk to economic security and social stability. I see this climate risk as the single biggest and most certain formidable risk that mankind faces. I think it is very important for businesses to disclose in their financial statements, their climate risk.”
Bloomberg will not have too much to disagree with here.
At 78, this could be his last major role in public service, one that utilises his acumen and strengths and he may even give the position of treasury secretary another dimension where national policy comes into play.
You could think of no one better able to manage stimulus packages and ensure their effectiveness particularly during this pandemic crisis.
During his run for presidential nominee of the Democrat Party, Bloomberg wrote: “Finance should serve the American people, facilitating the kind of growth that improves everyone’s living standards. All too often though it fails to achieve that goal.
“As president I will:
. Build a financial system strong enough to weather crises without harming the broader economy or requiring taxpayer bailouts.
. Ensure fairness and defend consumers’ interest in financial markets
. Harness finance for the public good and encourage the kind of innovation that helps people achieve their goals, such as owning a home or starting a business.”
Bloomberg can accomplish these and more as treasury secretary. He would do a fine job.