- Former organizer, negotiator, and research specialist for the Service Employees International Union
- Supports federal-government control of the American health-care system
- Said that "the free market is nonsense"
- Said, "We kind of agree with Mao, that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun”
- Became head of Barack Obama's Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry in July 2009
- Became Senior Counselor to the President for Manufacturing Policy in September 2009
Ron Bloom was born in 1956 in Queens, New York, and was raised in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. During his childhood, he was deeply involved with Habonim, “a progressive Labor Zionist youth movement that emphasizes cultural Judaism, socialism and social justice.” He attended Camp Galil, a Habonim-run summer camp in Pennsylvania, from the age of 10 until he was 14, and later became a counselor there. Bloom's experience with this movement had a major influence on his personal development and worldview. Many years later he told reporters that the lessons he had learned from Habonim – “identifying with the underdog, and … observing the world through a lens [of] people who don’t have as much and aren’t as lucky” – remained “part of what I try to do in my work life.”
After graduating with a degree in history from Wesleyan University in 1977, Bloom took a job as an organizer, negotiator, and research specialist for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
In May 1979 Bloom wrote an article for the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) journal, Democratic Left. That piece positively identified Bloom as a member of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, which in 1983 merged with the New American Movement to form the DSA.
Following his stint with SEIU, Bloom became Executive Director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Full Employment; after that, he was named New England Regional Director of the Jewish Labor Committee.
In 1985 Bloom received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and subsequently spent the next decade as an investment banker: from 1985-90 at Lazard Freres & Co., and from 1990-96 at Keilin & Bloom.
In 1996 Bloom was recruited by Leo Gerard to join the United Steel Workers (USW) as a special assistant to the union's then-president, George Becker, who had close ties to the DSA and was a co-founder of the Campaign for America's Future. Bloom stayed with USW for the next thirteen years.
In June 2006 Bloom was a featured speaker at a steel industry conference in New York, where he stated that industry executives should be “hard-headed and pragmatic capitalists” who “run the[ir] companies and actively participate in the political process on the basis of what is good for [their] shareholders – and not based on outmoded nostrums about unions, free enterprise, deregulation, free markets and free trade.” “In today’s world,” Bloom added, “the blather about free trade, free markets and the joys of competition is nothing but pablum for the suckers. The guys making the real money know that outsized returns are available to those who find the industries that get the system to work for them and the companies within those industries that dominate them.”
At the 6th Annual Distressed Investing Forum (held in New York City in 2008), Bloom made some remarks that were highly critical of capitalism: “Generally speaking, we get the joke. We know that the free market is nonsense. We know that the whole point is to game the system, to beat the market. Or at least find someone who will pay you a lot of money, ’cause they’re convinced that there is a free lunch. We know this is largely about power, that it’s an adults-only, no-limit game. We kind of agree with Mao, that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun.” When he was subsequently asked to clarify his comments, Bloom claimed that he had spoken in jest.
On July 13, 2009, Bloom replaced Steven Rattner as head of the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry (a position popularly known as “Car Czar”). This position was created by Barack Obama to oversee federal bailouts of failing automobile manufacturers like General Motors and Chrysler. In this position, Bloom also played a major role in the Obama administration's quest to double fuel-economy requirements for automakers to 54.4 mpg by 2025. On September 8, 2009, Obama appointed Bloom to an additional post, Senior Counselor to the President for Manufacturing Policy (a.k.a. “Manufacturing Czar”). Bloom held his jobs as “Car Czar” and “Manufacturing Czar” until February 2011 and September 2011, respectively.
In August 2011 Bloom predicted that President Obama's effort to revitalize American factories by forging a partnership between manufacturers and academia would “let the great thousand flowers bloom in America.” That phrase was derived from Mao Zedong's 1957 “Hundred Flowers Campaign,” where the Chinese Communist Party encouraged people with diverse viewpoints to share their ideas publicly as a means of “letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend” for acceptance in “a flourishing socialist culture.” Ultimately the campaign proved to be a ploy by the Mao regime, designed to out as many free-thinkers and dissidents as possible so that they could be punished.
After leaving the Obama Administration in September 2011, Bloom served for a time as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.
In February 2012 Bloom returned to the Lazard financial services company, where he was Vice Chairman of U.S. Investment Banking until July 2016.
With regard to the major political and economic problems facing Americans, Bloom generally favors big-government solutions. To address the rising healthcare costs of workers, for example, he advocates the enactment of government-run, “universal single-payer national health care.” To deal with high energy costs – which he blames on the notion that the energy sector as a whole “is being run for the benefit of its producers, not its consumers” – Bloom proposes a centralized, “comprehensive national energy program” that makes “huge investments in conservation, clean coal, and renewables.” And to promote domestic manufacturing, he supports a variety of government-imposed protectionist measures.
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