Understanding the President’s Cabinet: Commerce Secretary
Religion & Liberty Online

Understanding the President’s Cabinet: Commerce Secretary

Note: This is the eleventh in a weekly series of explanatory posts on the officials and agencies included in the President’s Cabinet. See the series introduction here.

Cabinet position: Secretary of Commerce

Department: Department of Commerce

Current Secretary: Wilbur Ross

Succession: The Commerce Secretary is tenth in the presidential line of succession.

Department Mission: “The mission of the Department is to create the conditions for economic growth and opportunity. As part of the President’s economic team, the Secretary of Commerce serves as the voice of U.S. business within the Cabinet.” (Source)

Department Budget: $9.7 billion (FY 2017)

Number of employees: 47,000

Primary Duties of the Secretary: The duties of the Commerce Secretary are to “foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce, the mining, manufacturing, and fishery industries of the United States.” (Source)


Secretary Info

Secretary: Wilbur Ross

Previous occupation: Former Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of WL Ross & Co. LLC (a private equity firm). Ross spend 55 years in investment banking and private equity.

Education: B.A. degree from Yale College and MBA degree at Harvard Business School.

Previous government experience: Previously served as privatization advisor to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund.

Notable achievements:

• Ross has been chairman or lead director of more than 100 companies operating in more than 20 different countries.

• Served as an officer of the New York State Democratic Party.

• Only person to be elected to both the Private Equity Hall of Fame and the Turnaround Management Hall of Fame.

• Was awarded the Order of Industrial Service Merit by President Kim Dae-jung for helping South Korea during its financial crisis.

• Was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star by the Emperor of Japan.

• Served as Chairman of the Japan Society.

• Served as trustee of the Brookings Institution.

• Served as Chairman of the International Board of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Blenheim Foundation, the Magritte Museum in Brussels, and the Palm Beach Civic Association.

• Served as an Advisory Board Member of Yale University School of Management.

Notable quotes:

On trade: “I am not anti-trade. I am pro-trade. But I am pro-sensible trade, not trade that is detrimental to the American worker and to the domestic manufacturing base.”

On negotiating trade: “American negotiators keep making the same mistakes. Besides hurting our workers, chronic trade deficits stifle economic growth while we now owe China and other trading partners trillions in U.S. Treasury debt.”

On free trade: “Free trade is like free lunch: There is no free lunch. Somebody wins and somebody loses. And unfortunately, we’ve been losing with these stupid agreements that we’ve made.”

Previous and forthcoming posts in this series: Secretary of StateSecretary of the TreasurySecretary of Education, Secretary of LaborSecretary of Defense, Attorney General, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Health and Human ServicesSecretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Secretary of Homeland Security

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).