Muckety
 
 
 
 
 

Robert Rubin’s disciples dominate Obama economic team

By Carol Eisenberg

November 24, 2008 at 2:58pm

No team of rivals, this.

If anything, Barack Obama’s economic team is stunning for its homogeneity. Timothy Geithner, Lawrence Summers and Peter Orszag are all proteges of former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, a centrist economist who was one of the key Democratic architects of the financial deregulation undertaken in the Clinton years.

Other Rubin proteges are sprinkled through the president-elect’s economic advisory team, including Michael Froman, his chief of staff at Treasury who followed him to Citigroup, Jason Furman, an economist at the Brookings Institution, and also, James P. Rubin, the former secretary’s son.

Liberal economist Robert Kuttner, editor of The American Prospect, expresses bafflement at Obama’s decision to pack his team with disciples of Rubin, an advocate of balanced budgets, free trade and financial deregulation - especially given Rubin’s central role at Citigroup, now on the brink of financial disaster.

“What kind of magic does this man Rubin have?” Kuttner asked in a recent Huffington Post column:

He was one of the key Democratic architects of the extreme financial deregulation that brought the economy to this pass. At Citi, he was one of the grand strategists of the speculation in securitized loans and off-balance-sheet gimmicks that has brought Citi to the edge of bankruptcy. Yet he continues to fall upwards. Surely Barack Obama must have noticed that Rubin is a false prophet. So why is his entire senior economic group a Team of Rubinistas?

. . .In fairness, adults are not merely tools of their patrons. In recent months, Larry Summers has disagreed with Rubin on the scale of the needed stimulus. Tim Geithner is for far more regulation than Rubin. Jason Furman, though suggested by Rubin for his campaign post of economic policy director, actually spent more of his career working for Joseph Stiglitz than for Robert Rubin. Peter Orszag has done a fine job as director of the Congressional Budget Office, and is not averse to large scale public spending.

Kuttner urges Obama to pick at least one senior economic adviser from outside Rubin’s centrist circle who would reflect the more muscular view of the government’s role favored by liberals.

But New York Times columnist David Leonhardt suggests the old, ideological battles of the Clinton years - known as the “Battle of the Bobs, Rubin versus Reich” - are now irrelevant.

Explaining the old divide, Leonhardt wrote: “On one side was Clinton’s labor secretary and longtime friend, who argued that the government should invest in roads, bridges, worker training and the like to stimulate the economy and help the middle class. On the other side was Bob Rubin, a former Goldman Sachs executive turned White House aide, who favored reducing the deficit to soothe the bond market, bring down interest rates and get the economy moving again.”

But today, against the backdrop of the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, Leonhardt suggests the “Battle of the Bobs” has given way to a consensus on the need for a vigorous government intervention in the economy.

Certainly, Geithner is on record in support of regulating financial instruments and Obama himself has pledged to ushering in a period of re-regulation.

Both the president-elect and his team have also agreed on a massive stimulus plan that if passed by Congress would pump hundreds of billions into an economic jumpstart - hardly Rubin’s old recipe of balanced budgets, deficit reduction and deregulation.

“Everyone recognizes that we’re looking at deficits of considerable magnitude,” liberal economist Jared Bernstein told the New York Times. “Whether it’s Bob Rubin, Larry Summers or the most conservative economist, that’s a widely shared recognition.”

Follow Muckety on Twitter Tweet This! Share on Facebook

Click here to sign up for the Muckety Newsletter

 Read related stories: Obama · Politics · Recent Stories  

0 Comments

  • There are no comments yet, be the first by filling in the form below.

Leave a Comment

The relationship map to the left is interactive.
• Solid lines are current relations. Dotted lines are former relations.
• Expand items with + signs by double-clicking or by selecting multiple items in the map and pressing the "e" key.
• Move an item in the map by clicking and dragging.
• You can also delete items, separate boxes and save maps. Right-click on the map or select Map Tools for these options.
• Find out more about an item in the map by right-clicking on the item and choosing Information about...
• View map color key.
• This interactive map requires Flash player.

  • The enormity of the U.S. Intelligence Community
    February 16, 2017 at 8:58am

    As it struggles to assemble a cabinet and to replace a national security adviser who has resigned and a labor secretary nominee who has withdrawn, the Trump administration takes on a new challenge: stanching leaks from U.S. intelligence.

    Immigration ban strains Trump relations with Silicon Valley
    January 30, 2017 at 9:06am

    Seven weeks ago, the president-elect made nice with the titans of tech, sitting down with them at Trump Tower and pledging government support.

    Coming together
    January 22, 2017 at 1:25pm

    From above, from the bird’s eye view of helicopters or satellites, the crowd was massive.

    The Davos elite
    January 19, 2017 at 8:22am

    The annual meeting in Davos brings together the elite of business and foreign relations - the supposed antithesis of Donald Trump’s views on governance.

    In a typical cabinet, Elaine Chao would be one of the richest
    January 12, 2017 at 8:37am

    When critics complain about the big-money nominees in Donald Trump’s cabinet, they focus on billionaire investor Wilbur Ross (Commerce), Amway in-law Betsy DeVos (Education), former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson (State) and Goldman Sachs alum Steve Mnuchin (Treasury).

    More stories →

Become a fan of Muckety on Facebook

  • Search for stories
      
    Special Features

Follow Muckety on Twitter Follow Muckety on Twitter
Muckety has no direct connection to most of the people or organizations listed on these pages.
We are unable to forward personal messages or provide personal contact information.
We make every effort at Muckety to ensure that our data is correct and timely. However, relationships are in constant flux and we cannot guarantee accuracy. If you come across incorrect or outdated information, please let us know by email.
© 2017 Muckety LLC