The Limits of a “3 Minute Rahm” in Obama’s Kitchen Cabinet


rahm emanuel barack obama twn.jpgI can’t get into names, but if a crafty business journalist got on the phone to the biggest billionaires and financial wizards who support the Democratic Party and Barack Obama, he or she would find a large passel of very frustrated economic elites who think that Obama’s stimulus package and spending priorities are not going to either restore confidence and economic growth or reinvest in the backbone of the US economy in a way that can help generate recurring returns for future generations of citizens.
The folks I am talking to are definitely not part of the market fundamentalist Robert Rubin fan club. They see the world differently, but I’m beginning to wonder if we really all should be very worried that some in Obama’s economic kitchen cabinet (or who we think is in it) are so dissatisfied with the substance of the policy outcomes we are seeing thus far.
I asked one of them who I assume can get through to the President or at least to Rahm Emanuel any time he wants why he doesn’t make his case more clearly to the occupants of the White House. The response was, “Yes, I can get through to Rahm Emanuel any time, but I get three minutes with him, and then someone else gets their three minutes, and so on. Rahm is the three minute guy — and he’s great during those three minutes.”
Wealthy donors on the outside of the political process probably should not be able to just call up the President and get their way — but the frustration I’m hearing from a great number of these types of donors — types who are not only wealthy and helped finance much of the Democratic Party’s victory in November but who are also smart and connected — is that they are not getting through where it counts. The policy options they are proposing aren’t getting into the basket of proposals that Obama is considering.
In other words, some feel that Obama is not getting a full range of choices on the economy and is being provided a narrow band of views that fit the preconceived biases of Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.
One of the fatal mistakes of the Bush administration in the build up to the Iraq War was the tight constriction of choices and views that Bush’s advisors allowed him to see.
Let’s hope that the Obama team isn’t making the same mistake on the economy.
— Steve Clemons


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