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During the 2020 presidential campaign, candidate Joe Biden pledged his cabinet and administration would be “the most diverse in U.S. history to better represent the makeup of the country.”
The Washington Post heralded in a September 2022 article that “Biden has achieved historic diversity.” Admittedly this is one campaign promise the President has actually kept.
Cabinet and senior staff in the Biden Administration include a wide range of ethnicities, races, genders, and sexual orientations. A few examples of diversity within the Biden administration are:
- *Kamala Harris, the first woman, first African American woman, and first Asian American woman to be elected Vice President of the United States.
- Admiral Dr. Rachel Levine, the first openly transgender person to hold an office (Assistant Secretary for Health) that requires Senate confirmation.
- Deb Haaland, the first Native American woman to serve as Secretary of the Interior.
- Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay cabinet member to be confirmed by the Senate, serving as Secretary of Transportation.
- *Lloyd Austin, the first African American Secretary of Defense.
- Janet Yellen, the first woman to serve as Treasury Secretary.
I think you can make a very strong case that, although these members of the President’s cabinet have impressive credentials, their performance in these jobs hasn’t reflected they were the best candidates for these positions.
Having a diverse group of individuals bringing different perspectives, experience, and ideas — which can lead to more creative problem-solving and better decision-making — is a good thing.
However, diversity and inclusiveness should not be prioritized over qualifications and competency when making hiring or promotion decisions. President Biden’s latest diversity hire/appointment is a classic example of the former.
Julie Su, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, has been nominated by the President to become his new labor secretary. The current labor secretary is leaving the job later this month to take over the NHL’s player’s union.
Under pressure from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Senator Cortez-Masto (D-NV), President Biden recently nominated Su in a ceremony in the White House East Room:
As a civil rights lawyer and a leader of California’s state labor department, the biggest in the entire country, Julie spent two decades representing workers — many without college degrees, many who didn’t speak English but who worked long, long hours at low pay and were just looking for a little bit of dignity — just a little bit of dignity for themselves and their families.
Senator Cortez-Masto said this about her nomination: “This will be a huge victory for America’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities and working families. Su is a fierce champion for unions and who we need leading the U.S. Department of Labor.”
Symbolic victories are good, I guess, but is Ms. Su qualified and competent to lead the U.S. Labor Department? Her seven-year tenure as secretary of California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency tells us a lot.
In that role, she oversaw the state’s Employment Development Department which had numerous serious allegations of fraud and abuse. It is estimated that over $30 billion was stolen by scammers during her tenure due to poor decisions she made. For example:
Organized crime rings and prison inmates filed thousands of fraudulent claims for benefits that EDD readily paid. One reason: EDD had canceled a contract with a firm that flagged suspicious claims, then rehired the contractor only after the rampant fraud became apparent.
It seems Su’s home state newspaper the Los Angeles Times is not a fan:
The California EDD’s ‘improper payment’ rate during the first six months of the pandemic was 36.6%, according to a U.S. Labor Department audit report from September. It is unclear what share of that was fraud or payments made in the incorrect amount. Some scammers posed as prison inmates, or, in one instance, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, to receive COVID relief money.
There have to be more qualified Asian Pacific Islanders than Julie Su. As a payoff to a fellow Democrat and to the Diversity Police, Joe Biden is potentially going to give us another unqualified person in his Administration. The Senate should vote down this nomination.