Mike Stenhouse: A Downgrade for America’s Commerce Is an Upgrade for Rhode Island

China Jobs Unemployment Infrastructure Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, nominee for Se
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What will be a downgrade for the United States economy should be an upgrade for the Rhode Island economy: the installation of Democrat Gov. Gina Raimondo as President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary. Raimondo’s confirmation is expected any day, possibly as soon as this week.

As commerce secretary, Raimondo’s confirmation can be described as nothing less than a stark downgrade for America when compared with the most recent secretary, Wilbur Ross, who from 2017–2020 led America to the greatest economic performance of any country in history.

With limited private sector experience as a venture capitalist, Raimondo has virtually no “hands-on” experience helping small businesses and their workers. Much of her career has been in government and politics, where she has become known as a Democrat hyper-partisan who seeks to push the boundaries of the ideological left wing of her party’s base.

A great example of Raimondo’s left-wing extreme ideology is her December order to sign Rhode Island up for the anti-business Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). TCI was originally described as a regional approach for 12 states, from Virginia all the way north to Maine, to collectively raise gasoline and diesel fuel costs by limiting the supply of those fuels sold into the region as a way to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. The TCI scheme began before the coronavirus pandemic, and once the virus changed the way commuters changed their driving patterns, much of the support for TCI faded away.

Yet, that didn’t stop Raimondo from pursuing the scheme for Rhode Island, nor did the fact that Rhode Island is a small state and much larger states would most likely benefit over the smaller states.

Of the original 12 states, only Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island joined TCI. Democrat governors in the other states declined to join; even the Democrat governor in Biden’s home state of Delaware refused, yet that didn’t stop Raimondo from pushing her anti-business, regressive tax scheme onto Rhode Island businesses and drivers.

Conversely, the nonpartisan Ross earned the reputation of a Wall Street icon. He is the former chairman and chief strategy officer of WL Ross & Co. LLC and has over 55 years of investment banking and private equity experience.

Ross has restructured over $400 billion of assets in the airline, apparel, auto parts, banking, beverage, chemical, credit card, electric utility, food service, furniture, gypsum, homebuilding, insurance, marine transport, mortgage origination and servicing, oil and gas, railcar manufacturing and leasing, real estate, restaurant, shipyard, steel, textile, and trucking industries. He has been chairman or lead director of more than 100 companies operating in more than 20 different countries. Named by Bloomberg Markets as one of the 50 most influential people in global finance, Ross was previously an adviser to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on privatization and was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the board of The U.S. Russia Investment Fund.

As Raimondo leaves for D.C., it’s worth noting that Rhode Island may lose a U.S. congressional district under the soon-to-be-released U.S. Census information. Raimondo’s economic record over the last six years has resulted in a loss of not just jobs and businesses, but also of relative population. Rhode Island’s new, more moderate governor will surely be an upgrade for our state’s business community.

At the national level, based on her disastrous track record as Rhode Island governor, I hold little hope that U.S. Secretary Gina Raimondo will place the concerns of the business community ahead of the extremists who drive the far-left, progressive agenda. This is a clear downgrade for America.

Mike Stenhouse is CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, the Ocean State’s premiere free-market research and advocacy organization. With an economics degree from Harvard University, Mike previously played in the MLB, including for the Boston Red Sox.


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