Q: I want to talk broadly about policy. When you and I spoke during the campaign, you made it clear that you had thought a lot about the economic debates within the Clinton administration. And you said that you wanted to have a Robert Rubin type and a Robert Reich type having a vigorous debate in front of you...But in your inner circle, it really is dominated by Rubin protégés...When you cite Larry Summers as as the liberal end of your administration's economic spectrum, that's not a good sign.
THE PRESIDENT: Not entirely. But, I mean, the fact is that Larry Summers right now is very comfortable making arguments, often quite passionately, that Bob Reich used to be making when he was in the Clinton White House.
And as Sirota points out, how does Reich himself grade the part of the administration Summers is the most responsible for?
The last grade is for the bank bailouts. I give them an F. I'm a big fan of this administration, but I've got to be honest. The bailouts are failing. So far American taxpayers have shoveled out almost $600 billion. Yet the banks are lending less money than they did five months ago. Bank executives are still taking home princely sums, their toxic assets and non-performing loans are growing, and the banks are still cooking their books. And now the Treasury is talking about converting taxpayer dollars into bank equity, which exposes taxpayers to even greater losses.Larry Summers as the new Robert Reich?
Yeah, Not so much.