The Commerce Secretary Crisis of 2011, and the Solution

Matt Yglesias reminds us that the seven-member Fed Board of Governors is currently a five-member Fed Board of Governors. Two reasons: The Obama administration has been mystifyingly slow in making new appointments, and the administration’s nominees, like Peter Diamond, keep getting blocked. This reminds me: We are in week four of the Commerce Secretary Crisis of 2011, as Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., keeps a hold on Obama’s nominee for the job, John Bryson. Since August 1, America has existed under the uncertain leadership of acting secretary Rebecca Blank.

So why no do some horse-trading? We know that the new class of Republicans, like the last few classes of Republicans, want to abolish some federal agencies. With the Census past us, the Commerce Department has fulfilled its only major Constitutional function. So why not start downsizing the Commerce Department, pull the Bryson nomination, and announce that the government’s goal is returning to the pre-Woodrow Wilson regime of a unified department of commerce and labor? Sure, you’d leave around 40,000 government workers in the cold – or would you? The gimmicky appeal of junking a whole cabinet post and department would get more notice than some consolidation of tasks and work forces. As this goes on, you get the leverage to ask for some people to be appointed to the far more important Fed Board of Governors.

Why not? It makes more sense than the whole 14th Amendment or Platinum Coin scheme.