Obama’s Policy Shop: Looking Under the Hood


obama peering.jpgI’ve been digging into some of the novel policy ideas that various presidential camps have been putting out for public viewing. It will take a while to work through these and kick the tires of proposals that I think might appeal to pragmatists and have some chance of of a policy and legislative life.
But as I look under the hood of Obama’s policy shop and see what Obama policy guru Karen Korbluh, former Clinton NEC official Dan Tarullo, and former Treasury Department chief-of-staff Michael Froman have been orchestrating, I’m very impressed.
Also part of the semi-close ring of Obama econ advisers are labor economist Jared Bernstein and Wolfowitz-critic and former World Bank Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz.
I’m going to be writing more on the blog soon about Obama’s “health-care-for-hybrids plan” that I referenced the other day. I’ve learned much more about the proposal since my first reactions to Barack’s interesting speech.
But this piece by Richard Miller and Matthew Benjamin on Obama’s economic wonks is worth a full read.
— Steve Clemons


8 comments on “Obama’s Policy Shop: Looking Under the Hood

  1. Robert Morrow says:

    good article in the New Republic Online by Clay Risen talking about a truckload of major hedge fund players getting on Obama bandwagon. These folks are good at “investing.”
    Here is an excerpt:
    “These stars–what New York magazine calls the “baby bundlers”–are helping Obama tap into Wall Street’s fabulously rich elite. His most recent catch is the relatively gray-haired Paul Tudor Jones II (he’s 53). Head of the $15 billion Tudor Management hedge fund, Jones is holding a 500-guest event for the candidate at his Greenwich, Connecticut, mansion later this month. The event will mark Obama’s entry into the hedge-fund winners’ circle: Greenwich, the toniest of New York exurbs, is home to more than 100 hedge funds–and, as one observer told the Financial Times, “The whole of Greenwich is backing Obama.”
    Dude, there is so much money in Greenwich, CN that if you walk the streets there hundred dollar bills start sticking to your skin. Tell me Obama is not going to have legs all the way throught the Demo primaries. Combine that with his grassroots appeal and he will be in the game the whole way.


  2. Zathras says:

    I look forward to additional posts from Steve about the ideas being discussed by the campaign staff of Sen. Obama and other candidates.
    For now, I observe that both Steve’s post here and the Bloomberg article he links to turn out to be mostly about bios, not actual policy ideas. Some of the ideas attributed in the Bloomberg piece to economists now associated with Sen. Obama are cited as examples of ideas Obama will not be able to support, because of union opposition or for other reasons. The pay for doctor performance idea sounds as if it has been lifted from some of Newt Gingrich’s talks about health care; this is not a criticism, incidentally, since though I am not Gingrich’s greatest admirer he has thought much more creatively about the health care system than have most men in public life.
    The “health for hybrids” legislation is a handout to domestic automobile manufacturers, with enough strings attached to ensure that a government-appointed panel is able to look over the shoulders of GM, Ford and D-C through 2015 and enough wiggle room to ensure that each of these three companies won’t have to do anything very differently than they were planning to do anyway, now that Toyota has broken ground on a market for hybrid cars and gasoline prices have pushed past three dollars a gallon. Unless Obama is now proposing something different from the bill he introduced eighteen months ago, he still wants to have the government fund up to ten percent of auto companies’ retiree health care costs, requiring that the companies (individually) spend 50% of what they get from Washington on a very broad range of activities related in some way to hybrid car development, manufacturing, or the development and manufacturing of other kinds of “state-of-the-art” ( a term which is undefined in the bill) alternative automotive technologies.
    The car companies would get to pocket the rest — minus, I guess, what they would need to spend on compliance paperwork. Look, I’ll take another look if Obama’s people come up with a modified proposal, but the bill he dropped in carries what is starting to look like Obama’s trademark, a rigorous avoidance of ideas addressing important public policy issues in ways to which any signficant group of potential voters might object. I’d never urge any Presidential candidate to start churning out ideas just to tick people off, but no President will solve many big problems without doing unpopular things.


  3. Robert M. says:

    PLEASE, let us ALL remember that the Greatest Policy Stuff, the Grand-daddy of all policy stuff, that to which all Democratic candidates have emotional fealty —
    was made up on the spot in direct response to Crises.
    I am referring to the New Deal, the NRA, the RFC (which was a Hoover idea – smart engineer, Hooever was), and so on.
    FDR campaigned on standard balanced-budget arguments, projecting that (1) he was NOT a Republican candidate, and (2) he certainly would consider doing other things, and (3) hope. And then within 4 months, the times called for Other Measures and proclaiming “No Fear”. (See Jonathan Alter, The Defining Moment (2006).)
    Whether this candidate has rack & pinion steering or that one has 4-wheel drive keeps us busy, and the way in which stuff is handled, presented & argued & discussed can say a lot about a candidate’s operational management & managers. (cf John McCain up until now.) But its really all about Leadership and how one presents “true” Authenticity, as in “if its got a bull its a ranch; if it doesn’t, its a lot”.
    Which in the Post-Rovian World we are entering is all about getting to 52% of the voting people on election day. True leaders don’t settle for 50.001%, no matter how counted.


  4. Beth says:

    Thank you Steve, for dealing with the policy and issues–damned refreshing (I know, you cover policy but compared to other media this is novel!).
    I like that Obama’s advisors and proposals are innovative, but I also really like that they aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel and fix what isn’t broken for some issues. The Bush Administration has assaulted basic institutions and traditions developed over the America’s history (such as habeas corpus, non-partisan prosecutors, Geneva conventions, international missile treaties, progressive taxation, and of course, fiscal sanity). If we just got back to where we were in 2000, at least the car is out of the ditch. Actual policy initiatives for fair labor practices, enlightened environmental policy, and international justice would get the car actually running again.


  5. Pissed Off American says:

    Well, there you have it folks. Morrow has expressed support for Obama. What the heck, if ya gotta pick a Democrat, you might as well go for one thats willing to nuke Iran for Israel, eh Morrow?


  6. liz says:

    I have a novel idea. The candidates should be asking the people what THEY WANT> The current US system for health care has totally disenfranchised me and I am sick with late stage lyme disease. I have Medicare and Medicare Part D. I pay all my bills and also a premium. Yeah, all candidates want us covered… but the question is WHY?> and the answer is THEIR BUDDIES GET RICH. Here is how. The insurance companies have been preparing for this onslaught of customers. They have tasked working groups of specialists to write TREATMENT GUIDELINES> Any doctor falling out of line with these pseudo guidelines get investigated and then BCBS moves in the the medical and insurance fraud law suits. Anyone who doesn’t believe this is happening need look no further than the topic of Lyme Disease. Lyme is a zoonotic agent, also a spirochete. All bioterrorism comes from zoonotic agents. Spirochetes, well, we all remember Tuskegee right? Well the working group and out of courtesy I am not going to name the professional society, wrote barbaric guidelines that stop care of lyme disease at 60 days regardless. The researchers and doctors say patients are cured on that date and all the remaining symptoms are psychosomatic or that it takes a long time to get well. For me, it’s taken over 33 years. I think this group of researchers and doctors lie.
    So what good is insurance? It serves to honor the source is all. CEO’s and managers get bonuses and patients die.
    Candidates should ask people who know how to fix the system to fix the system and they should most likely stay out of it.


  7. Robert Morrow says:

    I think Barack Obama is completely qualified to become president because he won’t break your kneecap to become president or hire a secret police and private detectives to psychologically rape you again after you have already been physically raped.
    Check out this hilarious MAD TV take on the Obama/Hillary situation:
    Let’s compare Obama’s ability to be POTUS with some other folks: 1) Jimmy Carter: a man focused on monitoring the White House thermostat and the schedule of the White House tennis courts 2) Reagan – early (or late) stage Alzheimer’s as President 3)Bush #41 – swore “No New Taxes” then raised taxes 4)Clinton – can locate a cigar in the vagina of an intern but cannot find the NUCLEAR LAUNCH CODES on 1-21-98 when Monicagate broke 5)Bush #43 – could not even name the dictator of Pakistan one year before 9/11.
    The Democrats have a choice: are they going to nominate someone qualified like Obama, Edwards or Richardson OR are they going to commit hari kari or seppuku on the doorstep of a defeated enemy?
    I am about tired of the Bushes running the Republican party and I am betting there are a lot of Democrats tired of their party being run by the narcissist Clintons, who are in it for themselves and not the team or the USA.


  8. Dave says:

    Very interesting. I know a number of the people mentioned in the Bloomberg article, and think very highly of them; all very smart and capable. I’ll look even more closely at Obama now.


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