Department of the Treasury
Elizabeth Warren Lacks Experience? Says Who?
July 25, 2010
Some critics of Elizabeth Warren say she can't run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) because she's not ready to lead such a new and important agency. Yes, she has intelligence, passion, and charisma. She still doesn't have experience. As Neil Irwin reported in the Washington Post, the critics wonder whether "Elizabeth Warren will be as effective a bureaucrat as she is as a guest on 'The Daily Show.' " It's a legitimate argument. Or, at least, it would be ... if it were true.
July 14, 2010
Eli Lake on our secret war against Iran.
July 11, 2010
The search for Peter Orszag’s successor at the Office of Management and Budget hasn’t gotten a lot of attention. But it should. If the administration is talking about a policy change that involves spending or raising money, as most policy changes do, then the OMB director is going to be part of that discussion. As my colleague Noam Scheiber has reported, the two leading candidates to take over OMB have been Gene Sperling, a senior Treasury Department aide who held several positions in the Clinton Administration, and Laura Tyson, a Berkeley economist who also served under Clinton.
June 01, 2010
Current U.S. policy toward Iran could be boiled down to a tweet: If you haven’t sanctioned the Islamic regime enough in the past, sanction it some more. Congress is in the final stages of passing a law designed to penalize foreign companies doing business in Iran. In February, the Treasury Department expanded the list of Iranian firms subject to financial sanctions. Obama has dispatched envoys to line up support from U.N. Security Council members for yet further strictures. Whatever sanctions get imposed, rest assured they won’t be stupid ones.
How They Did It
May 21, 2010
When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it. Unemployment was on the march, and all this talk about preexisting conditions and insurance exchanges barely registered above the Fox News pundits screaming, “Death panel!” Suddenly, health care reform was under attack everywhere—even in the West Wing. All week, the group had debated whether to scale back the reform effort.
"Finding all the cliches and mixed metaphors in this Eric Alterman paragraph is like cutting fish in a barrel with a butter knife," writes Nico Pitney. After reading the paragraph in question, I think he understates: And yet even with all its proverbial ducks lined up—a populist crusade is just what the doctor ordered for a divided and dispirited party going into perilous midterm elections—the administration and its lieutenants in Congress are still shooting as many blanks as real bullets at the bad guys. It’s not that their bills are all bullshit, as the Republicans’ clearly are.
Mitch McConnell's Populism
April 13, 2010
Even by the standards of politics, Republican opposition to financial reform is unusually shameless. The GOP party line, in keeping with the postmodernist stylings of Frank Luntz, is that they oppose financial regulation because it's a big handout to the financial industry. Here's Mitch McConnell: This bill not only allows for taxpayer-funded bailouts of Wall Street banks; it institutionalizes them. “The bill gives the Federal Reserve enhanced emergency lending authority that is far too open to abuse.
This Week In Senatorial Dysfunction
March 20, 2010
What a way to run a government: For more than a year, the Treasury Department has grappled with a monumental global economic crisis while many of its most senior people have had to walk out of internal meetings at critical moments and have been barred from joining in-depth exchanges with foreign governments. That's because the appointments of these officials have been blocked at times by various Republican senators.
March 03, 2010
You think it’s so great being Rahm Emanuel?
December 07, 2009
A few weeks after the 2008 presidential election, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard got a call from an Obama transition aide frantic for advice on the collapsing auto industry. Gerard put his numbers guy on the call, a former investment banker named Ron Bloom, who proceeded to offer a detailed disquisition on the financial situations of GM and Chrysler. Unlike other experts the transition team had consulted, Bloom was refreshingly blunt about the companies’ prospects, which he deemed grim.