Bush backtracks on offshore czar post

Tony Raimondo's China Syndrome

Revelations of Nebraska businessman Tony Raimondo's past dealings in China have cut short his time as the Bush administration's manufacturing czar before he even started.

Raimondo was due to take on the new role of assistant Commerce Department secretary - monitoring, in part, the loss of US jobs overseas. But it emerged that Raimondo was something of an expert in offshoring himself. Behlen Manufacturing, at which Raimondo is chairman and CEO, cut its payroll by 17 per cent as it opened a new factory in China. This news prompted the Bush administration to abruptly cancel a Thursday press conference meant to announce Raimondo's appointment.

“I’ve known Tony for years and the President made an excellent choice,” said Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson on Wednesday. “Tony has his finger on the pulse of the manufacturing industry and he will be a great advocate for manufacturers and their employees.”

Nelson and others, however, had to backtrack on their support as Raimondo excused himself from the new role on Thursday.

Six months ago, Bush announced that he intended to fill the assistant Commerce Department post. He is now being attacked for not even being to create jobs in his own administration.

Some Bush officials chalked up Raimondo's ouster to the difficult confirmation process he would face in Congress rather than the Democrat's "baseless attacks". ®

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