Donald Trump Is Betting That Policy Expertise Doesn’t Matter

Neil Irwin: “…with his appointments so far — to the list add the commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross and the education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos — Mr. Trump seems to be betting that nuts-and-bolts experience running government agencies and wrestling with the hard technical details of public policy just don’t matter.”

“But usually you expect an appointee in that outsider mold to then appoint a deputy who ‘knows the building,’ or has a clear understanding of how to exercise the levers of power in the aforementioned sclerotic bureaucracy.”

“With the Commerce Department, the Trump team is going in the other direction, nominating Todd Ricketts to be deputy secretary of commerce. Mr. Ricketts’s family owns the Chicago Cubs; the Trump transition’s news release announcing the appointment cites the Ricketts’ success in building the Cubs into a World Series winner.”

“Public policy is really complicated. If this hiring pattern continues, more unconventional appointees may struggle, especially early on, to get up to speed on things like which assistant secretary handles what and the laborious process of developing regulations.”

Why CEOs Are Getting Fired More 

James Surowiecki: “The predicament of modern C.E.O.s may seem surprising, given their prominence and lavish compensation. Top executives everywhere are paid more than they used to be, and the U.S. has led the way; American C.E.O.s earn, on average, two to four times as much as European ones and five times as much as Japanese ones. Yet it’s precisely these factors that make C.E.O.s vulnerable, because the expectations for their performance are higher.”

“In that sense, the increasing willingness of boards to fire the C.E.O. is actually the flip side of a fetishization of the position that began in the eighties. In Ralph Cordiner’s day (and in Japan maybe still), belief in a C.E.O.’s power to transform a company was limited. But today’s cult of the C.E.O. is founded on the belief that having the right person at the top is the key to success—from which it follows that a failing company should show its boss the door.”

Could Filibuster Reform Make Things Worse?

While President Obama is sure to have an easier time getting his nominees through the Senate now that it only takes a simple majority, Jonathan Weisman speculates that the move “could usher in an era of rank partisan warfare beyond even what Americans have seen in the past five years.”

“Republicans may not be able to muster the votes to block Democrats on procedure, but they can force every nomination into days of debate between every procedural vote in the Senate book — of which there will be many. And legislation, at least for now, is still very much subject to the filibuster.”

But the Washington Post sees things differently: “The Senate vote…should make it easier for President Obama to accomplish key second-term priorities, including tougher measures on climate change and financial regulation, that have faced intense opposition from Republicans in Congress.”