A great deal of the Department of Commerce is basically a machine for dispensing corporate welfare. Don't expect that to change under Donald Trump: His nominee to run the department, businessman Wilbur Ross, has a history of both advocating and profiting from federal and state interventions in the economy.
For some examples, check out Tim Carney's column about Ross in The Washington Examiner. Here's an excerpt:
"One of the problems in our country," Ross said in 2010, "is we don't have an industrial policy." By "industrial policy," Ross meant federal laws that steer resources to certain sectors for certain activities.
Ross, in a CNBC interview in the summer of 2010, expressed his admiration for China's five-year plans, the ones originated by Communist revolutionary Mao Zedong. "Is that something we should do here, Wilbur?" journalist Andy Serwer asked.
"Yes," Ross responded….Ross explained how he would use government to steer the economic ship: "We ought, as a country, to decide which industries are we going to really promote—the so-called industries of the future."
As Carney goes on to show, Ross has himself benefited from a variety of economic interventions, including steel tariffs, textile quotas, coal subsidies, and more. To read the whole thing, go here.