Before billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump’s pick for commerce secretary, arrived on Capitol Hill for a confirmation hearing Wednesday, he fired a member of his household staff because the person was undocumented.
Ross admitted to the Senate Commerce Committee that he re-checked the documentation of the “dozen or so” household workers he’s had over the years and all but one provided the necessary paperwork to prove he or she was legally able to work in the U.S. That employee was immediately “terminated,” Ross said.
A staunch defender of the one percent, Ross is worth $2.9 billion and though he’ll be one of the richest people ever to hold public office, he’s not even the richest Trump appointee. When you have all that money, you end up buying a lot of homes — Ross has at least four, in Manhattan, Southampton, Palm Beach, and D.C. — and that means you have to hire a lot of help. That’s why Ross has enough household employees to field a full-court basketball game, with coaches.
In addition to hired help, Ross spoke on the issues of trade and tariffs during the hearing. His top priority should he be confirmed, and there’s no reason to think he won’t, will be renegotiating NAFTA, Ross said.
“I am not anti-trade. I am pro-trade,” he said. “But I am pro-sensible trade, not pro-trade that is to the disadvantage of the American worker and the American manufacturing community.”
On China, Ross talked tough, calling the nation “the most protectionist country of very large countries.” He also said that those countries refusing to “play by the rules” when it comes to trade should “get punished — and severely.”
Ross may have been as strong on China as his new boss, but he didn’t quite get behind Trump’s stance on tariffs. The president-elect has threatened a 35 percent tariff on companies that move jobs to Mexico. Most recently, he warned BMW that if it plans to make cars in Mexico and sell them in the U.S., it will be hit with a 35 percent tax. Ross said there should be higher priorities.
“I think the pro-growth thing is stimulating exports, much more than just curtailing imports,” he said. Ross went on to downplay the threat of a 35 percent tariff, which he implied was less of a warning of an actual policy change than a good way to let other countries know that “change is coming.”