NEC

The All-Night King of the Capital

Learning power politics from Gene Sperling

Learning the art of power politics from one of the most inexhaustible—and exhausting—men in Washington.

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Just a quick word about Jeremy Stein, the Harvard financial economist Obama is nominating to serve on the Federal Reserve Board. I suspect critics on the left (and perhaps on the right) will seize on the fact that Stein was close to Larry Summers, who brought him into the Obama administration to work at the NEC. For what it’s worth, I actually became pretty familiar with Stein’s track record while researching my forthcoming book on the Obama economic team. I can report that he’s an absolutely terrific choice.

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Welcome to TNR’s 2011 List Issue. In putting the issue together, we had one major priority: to avoid creating a power list featuring anyone who regularly dominates headlines. Instead, we had a different idea: What if we revealed something about D.C. by documenting who quietly wields power? From there, we began to hatch other ideas for lists, and we realized that—while they can certainly be cheap gimmicks—lists can also convey a lot about a city. Below is the first list from the issue: Washington’s most powerful, least famous people.

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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.

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[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.

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[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.

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[Guest post by Noam Scheiber:] Anyone interested in this question has no doubt read about Altman's multiple White House visits to discuss relieving Larry Summers as head of the National Economic Council (NEC). And yet, here we stand, just days from Summers's planned departure--NEC staffers have been busy writing exit memos, as I understand it--without an announcement about his replacement.

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The first-day stories on Peter Orszag’s looming departure from OMB highlighted a number of possible successors.

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Did anyone notice that NEC director Larry Summers quietly exploded old-fashioned urban policy last week?  He didn’t mean to. In a speech at the Brookings-White House Council on Automotive Communities summit on May 18, Summers set out to talk about the economy, and how to stimulate manufacturing in general and auto manufacturing in particular.   He identified four policy areas that are particularly important: the availability of credit; exports; innovation and R&D; and human capital. More credit, more exports, more innovation, and more educated workers could, in conjunction with huge and su

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Free Larry Summers

On a typical day, Larry Summers, the top White House economic adviser, sits in his office overlooking the Rose Garden and receives a near-endless succession of aides working on a stunning variety of issues. In a single, several-hour bloc, Summers might have meetings on housing, the auto industry, health care, technology policy, and the financial crisis, all of which he’s exploring in subatomic detail.

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