US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the nation’s top trade negotiator, is ducking questions about becoming Commerce Secretary but says he welcomes a potential governmental reorganization effort that could lead to his agency being folded into the Commerce Department.
Speaking at a lunch with reporters sponsored by the Monitor, Mr. Kirk began the session by saying, “I will not entertain questions relating to personnel matters or movement within the federal government.”
While declining to say whether he expected to head the Commerce Department to replace outgoing Secretary Gary Locke, Kirk said, “I will be here until the president tells me to go home.” He said the “fun thing” about his assignment was “trade is one of those issues you all have identified as a place where this administration and the Republican Congress can come together.”
Asked whether there was any cabinet post he would trade his job for, Kirk replied, not “until the president takes over the role of the NBA commissioner. In my next life, I would love to be the next David Stern. But other than that, I don’t think I would trade this job for anything else.”
Kirk appeared unconcerned about a report by Bloomberg News that President Obama would direct his administration to reorganize the federal government in a way that folds the trade representative’s office into the much larger Commerce Department.
“It is not a rumor. First of all, in his State of the Union President Obama … set out a challenge for us to be smarter about how we do our work, recognizing that we are going to have to find a way to deliver services to the American public in a resource-constrained environment,” Kirk replied.
He added that the president “clearly identified trade and the nine different agencies that have their hands on some part of the trade portfolio as a place to start that conversation. So it is not a rumor, we have heard of it, we welcome it."