Tom Perez, currently serving as assistant attorney general for civil rights, is being appointed today to serve as America’s next secretary of labor.
You should view this as effectively a status-quo pick. Liberals are enthusiastic about Perez, and his predecessor Hilda Solis was one of the most liberal members of the Obama Cabinet. Perez is Hispanic just like Solis. In a sense, though, the Perez selection merely confirms the longstanding tradition of isolating the Labor Department from the core work of economic policymaking. Perez is an accomplished lawyer and public servant but overwhelmingly with a focus on nondiscrimination issues. That largely reflects what the role of the labor secretary really is in Democratic administrations—a procedural enforcement office rather than a part of the economic team—but reflects yet another chance for liberals to be disappointed that more populist perspectives aren’t incorporated into the administration’s economic thinking.