Who is Ron Bloom?

If you read the Wall Street Journal or right wing blogs, you know who Ron Bloom is. He is special advisor to Tim Geithner and White House director of manufacturing policy. He's a former official at the United Steel Workers Union who helped manage the auto rescue.
Mr. Bloom attended Harvard Business School, where he gravitated to populist business cases and was keenly interested in employee buyouts. After 10 years at investment banks, among them Lazard, he became special assistant to the USW president in 1996. Both inside and outside the USW, Mr. Bloom is known as a financially savvy negotiator — with a tendency to spout profanities WSJ
Right wing blogs are more straightforward
Is there really any doubt that Obama and his administration are a pack of radical Leftists?
Look for Bloom on Youtube and you'll see - they really really hate him. Here's what got our right wing compatriot's underwear in a twist. Speaking as a union official at " 6th Annual Distressed Investing Forum" Bloom said:
Generally speaking, we get the joke. We know that the free market is nonsense. We know that the whole point is to game the system, to beat the market or at least find someone who will pay you a lot of money, 'cause they're convinced that there is a free lunch. We know this is largely about power, that it's an adults only no limit game. We kind of agree with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun. And we get it that if you want a friend you should get a dog.
Absolutely nothing that Bloom said is even controversial on Wall Street, but according to American Right Wing Propagandists, working people are supposed to naively believe in the stories told to them by the economists. They are not supposed to have learned how the private equity market works and how to play hardball. Democrats are supposed to act like the "progressives" who, when the Republicans attempted to fire Bloom through a legislative rider, lamented and bewailed President Obama's lack of respect for Congressional oversight (he basically told them to take a hike) without worrying about why the Wall Street employees who manage the GOP caucus wanted so much to get rid of Bloom. Because liberals and progressives are supposed to worry about process and "drawing lines in the sand" and whether the administration read their memos on proper "framing" and all of that bullshit. They are not supposed to engage in the kind of bare knuckle defense of working people and American industry that Bloom used to make the GM and Chrysler bondholders actually pay a price for their reckless investment so that the Union pension fund and the productive companies could survive. That's part of why Ron Bloom is invisible to the good "progressive" media and blogs. Of course, the other part is that manufacturing is considered obsolete by the Robert Reich "progressives".
Mr. Bloom, speaking more forcefully than others in the administration, challenges the idea that research and development can be pursued entirely separate from production. In his view, Americans cannot excel at high-end innovation while factory production continues to decline or to slip overseas. “I am deeply afraid that if you lose the ability to make things,” he said, “all the intellectual activity involved in innovation and design will over time erode as well.” NYT
For contrast, here's true Progressive Robert Reich.
We should stop pining after the days when millions of Americans stood along assembly lines and continuously bolted, fit, soldered or clamped what went by. Those days are over.
That's the way progressives are supposed to think, by golly. Throw in some airy Harvard speculation about the "service economy" and the rule of effin-law, collect some speaking fees, and we can sing Solidarity Forever all the way to the bank. Meanwhile:
U.S. manufacturing, viewed as a lost cause by many Americans, has begun creating more jobs than it eliminates for the first time in more than a decade.

As the economy recovered and big companies began upgrading old factories or building new ones, the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. last year grew 1.2%, or 136,000, the first increase since 1997, government data show. That total will grow again this year, according to economists at IHS Global Insight and Moody's Analytics.

Thanks to the Japan earthquake and nuclear crisis, US auto production dropped in April marking a bump after 10 months of manufacturing increases - first time since 1996.

Manufacturing production in April decreased by 0.4%, after rising 0.6% in March and 0.2% during February. "Total motor vehicle assemblies dropped from an annual rate of 9.0 million units in March to 7.9 million units in April, mainly because of parts shortages that resulted from the earthquake in Japan," the Fed said.

Excluding cars and parts, factory production rose 0.2% in April. Year over year, industrial production was up 5.0% from April 2010.

In addition to declines in auto output, the Fed said "significant losses in output" were also reported in several other industries, including: primary metals, electrical equipment and furniture.

Other industries saw gains in production, including: nonmetallic mineral products, fabricated metal products, machinery, computer and electronic products, and aerospace WSJ
Aerospace increased partially because the Obama administration ignored the Senator from the Confederacy Dick Shelby and awarded a $35billion contract to Boeing instead of the European EADS. And, of course they had to defy both Senator Shelby and Robert Reich to rescue the auto companies earlier. Fabricated metal products and machinery are key industries that have been in freefall in the US particularly since the 1990s when NAFTA passed. None of this is magic. It comes through gritty work on things like getting the Export-Import bank to increase small and medium size business financing finance wind turbine exports instead of paying for semiconductor factories in Singapore (actually Ex-im has always been key for US exports of machinery, but if you look at the difference between 2007/2008 and 2009/2010/2011 you will see more small business and more green technology and more machinery). The administration has also directly invested in new manufacturing via the Department of Energy and even pushed to hold the value of the dollar down (which encourages exports and domestic substitution). Decisions on where investment money goes are key economic decisions, but they are rarely discussed in political debate. The right wants to pretend that investment decisions should be made in a "free market" as if public investment and government regulation were not critical to any market. As a simple example, think about how valuable GPS is to the world economy and how many products and systems depend on it - a free service provided by the US government. And the "left", at least the "progressive left" seems to think that economics is about punishing bankers and mourning the New Deal and macho posturing. So Dean Baker, who has not yet mentioned the Obama administrations attempt to keep Boeing from destroying its own skilled labor force, or the Obama administration's industrial policy at all complains that they are having to move carefully in trying to hold currency values down. Here's Bloom speaking to private equity investors about creditor claims and bankruptcy proceedings (when he was with the USW)
Thus every day, when the market closes, all financial stakeholders have affirmatively chosen – that day – to purchase their position at whatever price the market set for it – either because they actually did so or because they choose not to sell. Now compare this to a worker’s deferred wage claims. Those already retired are the ultimate hostage lenders, with essentially no rights. They worked a lifetime and deferred a significant amount of current compensation in exchange for the company’s promise that, upon their retirement, they would be paid a fixed stream of cash and provided with help with their medical bills. Then, without their knowledge or consent, the company choose to not set aside enough money to honor that promise. In effect, the company borrowed money from them without even discussing the terms of the loan. Further, if the retiree thinks that the company is not being prudent, he or she has no ability to take the company’s promise, convert it to its present value and sell it to someone who would like to own it. So what we have is a bunch of old men and widows being forced to lend the company, for whom they worked a lifetime, some portion of the value of their pension and their health care. This loan is made on terms on which they have no input and they have no ability to liquidate their position. I am guessing that not too many of you would advise your clients to do that deal. Later the company decides that it is insolvent and announces that these “creditors” ought to compromise their claim so that more value can be provided to a bunch of hedge funds who bought their claims at ten cents on the dollar and have owned them for all of ten minutes before loudly proclaiming their inviolate right to be paid back at par plus accrued. Yea, we are just the same.
Some people are working every day on concrete issues of jobs, wealth, power and justice. And some people are discussing Osama bin Ladin's civil rights or who is "deracinated". I often disagree with the Obama administration on policies -- but they are serious moral and political workers. You may not come to the same conclusions as them, but if you want to hear someone who has thought about economics and justice and how the world works, you could do worse than watch this and make sure you listen to the question/answer session.


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