California has the second highest unemployment rate of any state. Which is why it sure would be nice to have a high-profile California in charge of labor and work policy in the Obama administration.
Oh, that's right. A Californian is in that job: Hilda Solis -- a talented and thoughtful Congresswoman from Southern California -- is the U.S. Secretary of Labor.
Not that you'd know it given her low profile.
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It's way past time for Solis to stick up -- loudly and publicly -- for her own state and American workers, even if it ruffles feathers in the administration.
What could she say?
Several things. With the economy faltering and the job market in ruins, Solis should be sticking up for her state and taking on members of her own party for not doing more on jobs.
She could point out loudly that the nation's unemployment rate won't fall when unemployment in the largest state is stuck in the 12 percent range.
She could note that the administration and the Congress have turned down appeals for help with state and local budgets -- leading to government layoffs that have been one big drag on California employment. And she could call out her administration for not doing more to address the weak housing market, particularly since housing weakness -- and related job losses in construction -- represent the other big drag on California jobs.
And while she's at it, Solis might add that the Democrats' failure to provide comprehensive immigration reform carries huge costs for her home state.
Solis would feel heat for going off the reservation like this. But Obama couldn't fire her -- unless he wanted to alienate Latino leaders by firing one of his few high-profile Latino appointees.
And by generating a controversy, Solis might be doing the president and his party a favor -- by refocusing attention away from the budget deficit to unemployment, which is the more immediate concern. A controversy would do Solis some good back home, raising her profile in a way that could be helpful in future political races.
So, please: Give 'em hell, Hilda.