Douglas Holtz-Eakin Must Be Smiling


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Former Senator and McCain campaign co-chairman Phil Gramm has been a pain in the back end for McCain economic policy chief Douglas Holtz-Eakin for a very long time.
Holtz-Eakin, who served formerly as Congressional Budget Office director and had a stint at the Council on Foreign Relations, is a centrist moderate in his economic positions — and Phil Gramm was a raging bull ideologue when it came to compulsive-obsessiveness for tax cuts to fix everything.
Gramm’s comments that America had become “a nation of whiners” trapped in a “mental recession” got him thrown under McCain’s Straight Talk Express.
And in a manner reminiscent of Obama spokesman Bill Burton throwing former Middle East team adviser Rob Malley under the bus and then backing up and making sure he was really whacked for Malley’s work with Hamas (Burton stated that not only was Malley no longer advising Obama — but that he would never advise Obama), Holtz-Eakin told the press that after Gramm’s comment, he wouldn’t even be talking to John McCain by cell phone. Ouch!
While Rob Malley did not deserve the treatment he got from Obama’s team, Phil Gramm certainly did.
But one problem the Obama team will now have with McCain in a post-Gramm campaign is that Holtz-Eakin will have much less disruption in the economic advisory packages he puts before his candidate. My sense is that Obama’s economic team remains “complex” to be generous — but Holtz-Eakin just won his franchise and will be able to stitch together more consistent messaging than the Dems at this point.
— Steve Clemons


10 comments on “Douglas Holtz-Eakin Must Be Smiling

  1. Chris says:

    Steve, you haven’t, by any chance, heard a saying that the kossacks work for the czar, have you? (the automatic retort, that John McCain doesn’t understand his own economic policy and thus isn’t responsible for it, is a fair rejoinder, but *not* reassuring)
    McCain *can*, I’d agree, get “more consistent messaging” (than before; I wouldn’t say “than Democrats have”) with fewer cooks stirring the pot, but it’s still going to smell crazy and conservative and clueless, because McCain is *still* running as a Republican, as the successor to George W. Bush. Despite your faith in people you think are “centrist” or “moderate” or even *both*.
    Please tell me you’re not burnishing a *second* political blind spot to go with the one you’ve already got (“Democrats should assimilate Hagel, even onto the Obama ticket!”).


  2. JP says:

    You are right that Holtz-Eakin alone is more level-headed than would be a Gramm/Holtz-Eakin team. However, your prediction that this will take the crazy out of McCain’s economic policy proposals presupposes that with Gramm gone, McCain will no longer have to pander to the GOP base that agrees with Gramm that tax cuts and more tax cuts are the cure to all of our ills.
    Surely, what will be put in front of McCain from his economic policy shop will be improved – however what the political team will agree to push forward may often have less to do with what the policy folks want and much more to do with what the political folks perceive is going to work in terms of spurring right-wing turnout.


  3. Mr.Murder says:

    The taxable rate under Ike/Roosevelt was at 90% of income.
    Nobody is willing to return it that way, thus everyone out there is in favor of unfair tax cuts for the Waltons, errrr, for the wealthy….


  4. Bartolo says:

    “Holtz-Eakin, who served formerly as Congressional Budget Office director and had a stint at the Council on Foreign Relations, is a centrist moderate in his economic positions…”
    I don’t know about that. Anyone who supports continuing and increasing tax cuts for the wealthy out beyond the horizon is not a responsible economist.


  5. Mr.Murder says:

    Google up Penny Pritzker and “failed bank” or David Axelrod and “nuclear pollution” and see what you get.
    They’re monsters.


  6. Paul Norheim says:

    Though it`s perhaps a bit off topic, at least in a direct sense, I
    could not resist quoting McCain once again on that wonderful
    thing called the internet – or more specifically: to do “a google”:
    “Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was fundraising in Richmond,
    VA, and joked about how he vets prospective VP candidates:
    “We’re going through a process where you get a whole bunch of
    names, and ya … Well, basically, it’s a Google. You just, you
    know, what you can find out now on the Internet. It’s
    remarkable, you know.””
    To me he is sounding more and more like the current
    Commander in Chief. And since Phil Gramm is history, we have
    every reason to expect that McCains method in searching for a
    Treasury Secretary will basically consist in doing a… you got
    it!… a google.
    Remarkable indeed.


  7. Mr.Murder says:

    And yet Obama’s campaign dfirector was the flip side of Enron, buying up the utilities that Enron’s rate warsa helped leverage broke.
    Who could have imagined….


  8. Frank says:

    Sometimes you think that there is justice in the world by seeing what Phil Grahm did to himself..His stunning insensate words resulted in the MSM reviewing his leadership role in passing legislation that set the stage for the California brownouts, the Enron debacle, and now the gas price spikes..With that kind of a background, for McCain to have Phil Grahm as not only his economic adviser, but also his prime candidate for the sec of the treasury if elected, speaks volumns about McCain’s judgement. This was a strategic mishap and will haunt McCain during the rest of the campaign as it should.


  9. Beth Wellington says:

    While economic policy by a moderate may not be good for the Obama campaign (they also lose a target in Gramm) is it a bad thing for the country, should Obama lose the race? I’m grow weary of those partisans who hope the opposition will be so bad that one’s side looks good. That sure did a lot for the country in 2000 and 2004.


  10. Mr.Murder says:

    Holtz Eakin was quite good on this week’s forum CSpan did broadcast.
    The ‘moderator’ tried to ride him after a while because he was getting too many good points in uninterrupted.


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