I’ll admit it: I was worried when the president named Bill Daley as his second chief of staff. True, Daley was a loyal Democrat long before he was a bank executive. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that the White House was giving in to months of mau-mauing from the business community. That was distressing not just because the idea of Obama as anti-business is wrong, but also because Obama had a lot more leverage over the business community than he seemed to realize. Not quite three weeks later and I feel confident this is not the case.
[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] We've all heard that Republican ideas man Paul Ryan--who's slated to give the GOP response to the State of the Union--has some deep thoughts on how to save the country from fiscal ruin. (Though, alas, not everyone understands that these ideas are spectacularly vague and substantively dodgy.) Less well known is that Ryan has some equally dodgy ideas about monetary policy. FrumForum's Noah Kristula-Green unpacked them last week: [H]e wants the Federal Reserve to set monetary policy from the price of a "basket of commodities"...
[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] On one level, it’s hard not to see the regulatory review Barack Obama announced this week as a bit of a stunt. The idea, after all, isn’t to revisit the regulations his administration has supported in areas like health care, finance, or the environment. (Not something I’d like to see, to be sure.) The idea is to root out regulations from earlier eras that have either outlived their usefulness or contradict one another. This is all perfectly fine, and it could be effective politically.
[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] On Sunday, Jon Chait cited one reason Democrats should relish the debate over repealing healthcare reform: public support for repeal appears to be dropping. Two days earlier, Jonathan Cohn hinted at another reason: Repeal is likely to divide the business community--a.k.a the GOP base--a significant portion of which prefers the health reform law over the GOP's nonexistent alternative.
[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] Wednesday night’s speech in Tucson could turn out to be the trickiest assignment of Obama’s presidency. Consider what the situation called for: Memorializing victims, comforting a traumatized community, unifying a country left even more polarized by the tragedy, projecting optimism about the future. Perhaps most challenging of all, Obama had to draw some larger lesson from an event that, we’re discovering, had little intrinsic meaning.
Slate’s Jack Shafer has posted a characteristically irreverent piece on “The awesome stupidity of the calls to tamp down political speech in the wake of the Giffords shooting,” as the piece’s sub-title describes it. I haven’t personally called on anyone to tamp down their political speech since the Giffords tragedy. But had I been moved to comment, I would almost certainly have joined the ranks of the awesomely stupid. As it happens, I think Shafer’s anti-anti-hate speech position hinges on three analytical mistakes.
[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] The rumors are flying that Bill Daley--the former Clinton Commerce Secretary, current JP Morgan executive, and longstanding member of that Daley family--is under consideration for a senior White House position, "most likely chief of staff," as the Washington Post puts it.
[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] If you’ve spent much time talking to Treasury officials over the past two years, you’ve probably heard them joke that Gene Sperling, a counselor to Secretary Tim Geithner, is the department’s in-house populist. What makes this funny (insofar as wonk humor can be funny) is that Sperling isn’t exactly your classic pitch-fork wielder. He was director of Bill Clinton’s National Economic Council (NEC) in the late ‘90s, a period when the White House got pretty good marks for its understanding of business and the broader economy.
I confess that I’m torn. I had the same cranky reaction to Time’s Person of the Year choice as pretty much the entire Internet: It’s hard to see the calculation that makes Mark Zuckerberg more influential than Julian Assange in 2010. Still, there’s something about this conventional wisdom that’s annoying in its own right. When people riff about the impact of Wikileaks, you typically hear how it’s forever changed diplomacy or intelligence-gathering. The more ambitious accounts will mention the implications for journalism, too. All of that’s true and vaguely relevant.
[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] My favorite paragraph in the McConnell op-ed Chait mentioned earlier: Some Democrats have responded to the election by reaffirming their belief in government’s ability to solve our problems. But many others have acknowledged with their votes on the tax bill that the policies of the last two years have fallen short, and that it’s time to move in a different direction.