President-elect Donald Trump is expected to appoint anti-worker billionaire Wilbur Ross to serve as his commerce secretary, giving more evidence that his vow to rid his cabinet of establishment figures and corporate interests was little more than lip service.
Ross, a 78-year-old New York billionaire and chair of a W.L. Ross & Co, a private equity firm known for buying up failed businesses, is referred to in some circles as “the king of bankruptcy.” He made his fortune restructuring struggling industrial operations like steel mills and coal mines, but his methods have been slammed for costing workers their jobs—and, in one notorious case in West Virginia, their lives.
The Nation wrote earlier this month of a coal mine Ross acquired in the early 2000s through one of his companies, the International Coal Group (ICG):
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The appointment is also noteworthy in light of Trump’s working class appeal during the election and his promises to revitalize the coal industry.
The Nation‘s Zoë Carpenter wrote: “On the campaign trail Trump described himself as the ‘last shot’ for coal miners. But his embrace of Ross is a reminder that the president-elect at best knows very little about their lives, and at worst simply doesn’t give a damn.”
The appointment comes just a day after Trump named Betsy DeVos, another billionaire and opponent of public schools, to be his education secretary. On Twitter, New York Times Washington deputy editor Jonathan Wesiman noted, “Between Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Trump, Steve Mnuchin, and maybe Mitt Romney, this is going to be quite the working class administration.”
Norman Eisen, a Brookings Institution visiting fellow and former ethics adviser to President Barack Obama, told Politico that Ross “might be the second-most complicated person in the administration to vet, behind the president-elect himself.”
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