Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama's Economic Group: Part 2

After I wrote part 1 yesterday, Jack and Jill politics found the extended list of attendees:

The economic leaders who met with Senator Obama today included:

· Jared Bernstein (Senior Economist, Economic Policy Institute)
· Bill Bradley (Former Senator, D-N.J., U.S. Senate 1979-1997)
· Warren Buffet (Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway) - joined the meeting by phone
· Anna Burger (Chair, Change to Win; International Secretary-Treasurer, Service Employees International Union)
· Jon Corzine (Governor, State of New Jersey)
· William Daley (Chairman of the Midwest, JP Morgan Chase; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Commerce, 1997-2000)
· James Dimon (Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase)
· William Donaldson (27th Chairman of the SEC 2003-2005)
· Indra Nooyi (Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo Inc.)
· Paul O’Neill (Special Advisor, Blackstone Group, Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Treasury, 2001-2002; Former CEO, Alcoa)
· Federico Peña (Managing Director, Vestar Capital Partners; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Energy, 1997-1998; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, 1993-1997; Former Mayor, City of Denver 1983-1991)
· Penny Pritzker (CEO, Classic Residence by Hyatt)
· Robert Reich (University of California, Berkeley; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Labor, 1993-1997)
· Robert Rubin (Chairman and Director of the Executive Committee, Citigroup; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Treasury, 1995-1999)
· Eric Schmidt (Chairman and CEO, Google)
· William Spriggs (Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics, Howard University)
· Lawrence Summers (Harvard University; Managing Director, D.E. Shaw; Former Secretary, U.S. Dept of Treasury, 1999-2001)
· John Sweeney (President, AFL-CIO)
· Laura Tyson (Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; Former Chairman, National Economic Council, 1995-1996; Former Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisors, 1993-1995)
· Paul Volcker (Former Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve 1979-1987)

The extended list has some interesting names. On the good side, Jared Bernstein is definitely at the top of that list. Also Robert Reich is somewhat of a centrist, but recently has written some interesting stuff about doing away with the corporate "I". I really like Bill Bradley on some things but he has a horrendous record on trade and is so-so on other economic issues, which is after all, what this meeting was about.

Other than the addition of Bernstein (which is amazing) and to a certain degree Reich, it seems like most of the others on the panel are CEOs and moderate/conservative economists. So my feelings on the panel are about the same as they were, I just wanted to add some more information.

They just removed a youtube of Obama's opening statement from the internets, but here are some quotes from what he said before the meeting:
Saying that the there is an “economic emergency” that is “growing more severe, Obama called for bipartisan solutions while pinning some of the blame on Wall Street.

“It was not an accident or history nor a normal part of the business cycle that led us to this situation,” he said. “There were some irresponsible decisions that were made on Wall Street and in Washington. In the past few years, I think we learned an essential truth that in the long run we can't have a thriving Wall Street if we don't have a thriving Main Street.”

He said the economic stimulus package enacted earlier this year has provided some relief, but said more action is necessary. “I'm glad to see we have a broad representation of people here,” Obama said of the group joining him, which included former Republican and Democratic administration officials and business and labor leaders. “It's a group that I will be convening periodically over the next few months because of the dynamic situation and one that the next president will need to be prepared to deal with the moment he takes office.
"Irresponsible decisions made on Wall Street and in the white house" has to be the biggest understatement in the history of time, but whatever. I'd say that if he didn't come out with stronger language about the economy it could cost him the election, but it won't. It may cost him a potential landslide victory, but he's running against someone who's top economist called this a "Mental recession" and the legacy of someone who described the problem as "Wall Street getting drunk". If it weren't for them I'd be a lot more worried, but I'm thinking even Bob Rubin can't screw this one up.

And frankly, it's stuff like this that made Mike Huckabee's campaign scare the living crap out of me. Huckabee's actual policies aren't close to being populist, but as he proved in the primary, he isn't afraid to use the language one bit. And as we know, if the media thinks it has a cool story line, it's not like they'll let "facts" get in the way. If it were Huckabee vs Obama right now, Barack might be in some serious shit, and not because Huckabee is to the left of him economically, far from it. Economic populism is a winning issue out there for whoever claims it, and Huckabee was willing to attack from the left using that language, and as of now, Obama will not.

But the republicans nominated John McCain, who I think really the best matchup we could have hoped for against Obama. I'm still not sure why they did it, but that doesn't mean I'm not grateful.

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