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The 2017 Pension Political Power 25: Wilbur Ross

No. 6 Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce

  • By Peter Vasiliev

6. Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Commerce

If Congress approves his nomination to what some have called Donald Trump’s cabinet of deplorables, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, 79, will take center stage in the president’s plan to kick-start the U.S. manufacturing sector. But the so-called king of bankruptcy doesn’t seem to have room for pension funds in his vision of a successful turnaround. Ross made his billions by using a slash-and-burn cost-cutting strategy to drag companies back from the brink of collapse, then selling them for a profit. He punted billions of dollars in defined benefit pension liabilities to a government-owned bailout fund, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. As Commerce secretary, Ross would inherit one of three seats on the PBGC’s board, where he would oversee the takeover of retirement funds when companies phased out their defined benefit plans. Ironically, Ross’s boss has his own union pension: According to his financial disclosure filings, Trump has collected more than $168,000 from his Screen Actors Guild union pension — a benefit from his work on The Apprentice. — Jess Delaney


The 2017 Pension Political Power 25

1. Andy Puzder
Secretary of Labor
2. Bruce Rauner
Governor of Illinois
3. Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Education
4. Laura & John Arnold
Founders,
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
5. Steven Mnuchin
Secretary of the Treasury
6. Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Commerce
7. Tani Cantil-Sakauye
California Chief Justice
8. Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
9. Anthony Scaramucci
Founder, SkyBridge Capital
10. Kevin de León
California State Senator and President Pro Tempore
11. Mike Enzi
Chairman, Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security
12. Steve Sweeney
President,
New Jersey State Senate
13. Jerry Brown
Governor of California
14. Corey Lewandowski
Co-founder, Avenue Strategies
15. Paul Singer
President,
Elliott Management Corp.
16. Randel Johnson
Senior Vice President, Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
17. Joe Manchin
U.S. Senator
18. Kenneth Feinberg
Founder and managingpartner, Feinberg Rozen
19. Scott Walker
Governor of Wisconsin
20. Richard Trumka
President, AFL-CIO
21. Mike Rawlings
Mayor of Dallas
22. Elizabeth Warren
U.S. Senator
23. Kent Mason
Partner,
Davis & Harman
24. Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senator
25. Randi Weingarten
President, American Federation of Teachers

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