Policy: Labor

Tom Perez says it's not the Department of Labor, it's the 'Department of Opportunity'

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Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins,Labor,Analysis,Thomas Perez

Labor Secretary Tom Perez unofficially rechristened his department in a speech this week to the Center for American Progress, repeatedly referring to it as the "Department of Opportunity."

In the speech Monday, which was part of an anti-poverty forum, he argued that robust federal activity was a major driver of economic growth and said his department has a major role in that. "I am so proud to be at the Department of Labor, which is indeed the Department of Opportunity," Perez said.

He continued:

I am so proud to work for a president who has made investments in communities, suburban, urban, and rural, recognizing that everybody needs to have that fair start, that fair chance to succeed so that we can climb that ladder of opportunity. ... A critical role of the Department of Labor is expanding opportunity for these individuals who want to move up that ladder of success. (Perez addresses prior speaker) I was so heartened to hear your story, Chelsea. You got assessed. What did they tell you? You went to your workforce program. What did they tell? They told you: 'You can succeed and we are going to invest in you because we believe in you.' That's what we do at the Department of Opportunity. We help make those investments in people, in communities, in jobs, working with employers so that we are making sure that we have a demand-driven structure.

The comments were not in his prepared remarks, which Perez deviated from throughout.

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