…in which it is shown that I am the Obama Administration’s ventriloquist

Two days after Barack Obama was inaugurated, I gave him some political advice:

In the run-up to the 2012 Election, President Obama should propose abolishing the [Department of Commerce]. It would be his equivalent of Bill Clinton’s support of school uniforms and V-Chip: small, symbolic gestures that send a sort of cultural signal. You can trust the Democrats to run the government frugally. (One could argue that no Democrat ever wants to send this signal because it reinforces a Republican frame, but I don’t think that that’s true: even socialists don’t like to waste money). The Gingrich Republicans vowed to eliminate the Department, but as with most conservative beliefs, it was quickly forgotten as soon as the GOP took power. This would be a nice act of political jiujitsu if Obama could do it.

And just this week, he proposed just that!

Now if only he would listen to me on everything else, we could actually get somewhere.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

5 thoughts on “…in which it is shown that I am the Obama Administration’s ventriloquist”

  1. Okay, but which department is supposed to be in charge of formulating a decent jobs and industrial policy, or *something* to help build back a middle class?

    It may be conventional wisdom that manufacturing is necessary for a strong economy, but until I hear something better, I plan to keep believing it.

    So, even if Commerce doesn’t do much, I’d like to know who *is* doing this? This administration seems to have plenty of time to negotiate more “free” trade agreements. What about having more of a strategy than that?

    I hate this kind of election year cr*p. I promise you by election time those idiot “independents” won’t remember this either.

    1. Okay, but which department is supposed to be in charge of formulating a decent jobs and industrial policy, or *something* to help build back a middle class?

      That would be some combination of the Fed and Congress.

      1. The Fed? No offense but I don’t think so. It simply wouldn’t occur. And Congress can’t find its way out of a bag.

        1. I never claimed that they were actually doing their job, but that is their job, not anyone else’s.

  2. More importantly that an “industrial policy,” what about the Bureau of the Censue? The Bureau of Economic Analysis? The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration? The National Institute of Standards? The Patent Office? (Well, maybe we could lose the Patent Office…)

Comments are closed.