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POTUS Watch:

Weekly Survey of the Advisors to the President Of The United States


Paris, 5 December 2008

Since the election on November 4, 2008, the Obama transition team has been piecing together
the President-elect’s eventual administration, pulling from a wide variety of experts, including,
among others, many of the people that have served as Obama’s closest, most reliable advisors.

I present you with a weekly briefing that aims to provide an analytical overview of the members
of, and networks of influence present in, President-elect Obama’s entourage. Each week until
the inauguration on January 20, 2009, I will identify those close advisors to the President-elect, –
the would-be appointees –, those who have already been offered a position in the White House,
and the few institutions that have played a particularly important role.

By focusing on those people and institutions that are closest to the next President of the United
States, these analyses will provide a look into the political orientations, expertises, and
worldviews surrounding the President-elect as means to better understand the foreign policy
decision-making mechanisms of the next administration as quickly, accurately, and clearly as

Depuis l’élection du 4 novembre 2008, l’équipe de transition de Barack Obama constitue son
administration avec des experts des communautés politique et académique. Naturellement, le
Président élu cherche également à nommer dans son administration certains de ses plus proches

Je vous présente un briefing hebdomadaire qui offre une vue d’ensemble des membres et des
réseaux d’influence autour du 44e Président américain. Chaque semaine, jusqu’à l’investiture du
20 janvier 2009, j’identifierai les proches conseillers de B. Obama, les nommés actuels, et les
quelques organisations jouent un rôle particulier.

Portant sur les individus et les institutions situés au premier rang de la future administration
Obama, ces analyses examineront les orientations politiques, les expertises, et les visions du
monde de l’équipe présidentielle afin de mieux faire comprendre et le plus vite possible, de
manière fiable et claire, la politique étrangère de la prochaine administration.

Amy Greene

Prepared by Amy Greene, +33 (0) 6 37 08 79 90

Co-Chair, Obama Economic Transition Team

Daley served as Commerce Secretary during the Clinton Administration and had previously
been the chairman of Clinton’s task force on the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA). He stepped down from the administration in order to run Al Gore’s 2000
presidential campaign, for which he was in charge of selecting the vice presidential candidate.
Once affiliated with Amalgamated Bank, Daley is currently a chairman for J.P. Morgan Chase,
a non-practicing attorney, and a member of the Board of Directors of both Boeing and Abbott

The member of an Illinois political dynasty (his brother, and father before him, have both
been mayor of Chicago), Daley has often advised his brother on government relations with
the business community. As previously mentioned, he was integral in brokering the
passage of NAFTA, and helped to propose reforms on issues like patronage and international
trade missions. As Commerce Secretary, Daley urged the administration to collaborate with the
private sector to bridge the so-called digital divide in order to better train and protect American
workers into the globalized and information-based economy.

Advisory Board Member, Obama Transition Project; under consideration for a post at
the Treasury Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), or the
White House

An expert in emerging markets, sustainable development, and alternative energy,

Froman, who is also an attorney and a managing director at Citigroup, understands the delicate
intersection between economics, its application to human life, and the legal nuances surrounding
the implementation of change. Froman is a strong advocate of regional economic growth
programs as a means of fostering stability and creating incentives to avoid conflict.

Froman introduced the President-elect to Robert Rubin, to whom he is also very close.
Froman met Rubin during his work with the Clinton-era the National Economic Council and the
Treasury Department, where Froman eventually became Rubin’s chief of staff in 1997. After his
government service, Froman joined Rubin at Citigroup, where he manages infrastructure
and sustainable development portfolios.

Froman has extensive work experience and knowledge of the Central and Eastern
Europe. While at the Treasury Department, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Eurasia and
the Middle East. Under this title, he specialized on U.S. economic policy toward the former
Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe, and participated in the economic component of
the Dayton Accords. He once lived in Albania and ran a legal reform program. Froman was
also a member of the Forward Studies Unit of the European Commission in Brussels.

Under consideration for a top deputy job in the White House or Treasury Department
relating to economics and fiscal policy

Furman has spoken out on free trade and criticized President Bush’s trade policies for
having been forged "with economically insignificant countries that move us backward on labor
and environmental standards and don't address the problems of dislocated American workers."
(Council on Foreign Relations) He advocates strengthening domestic policies and ensuring
social protections - such as universal health insurance, wage insurance that would pay in the
case of a lay-off – as the pillar to better align America’s priorities as it negotiates free trade pacts.
In his extensive research on tax code, health care, and fiscal policy, Furman has called universal
health care an imperative for the American society and its economy.

Currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Furman served as economic policy
director for the Obama presidential campaign and was previously a special assistant on economic
policy for President Clinton. Furman has also worked for the Council of Economic Advisors
and the World Bank. During his tenure at Brookings, Furman directed the Hamilton Project, an
economic policy proposal research group, under the advisement of former Treasury Secretary
Robert Rubin, to whom Furman is often linked. As such, he is known for being a partisan
Democrat capable of navigating across party lines, but is also tightly linked to Rubin’s
variety of fiscally prudent centrism.

Secretary of Treasury

Timothy Geithner, like Barack Obama, is widely praised as a nonpartisan pragmatist, cerebral
and analytical, and suspicious of ideology. Geithner is very popular in Washington and on
Wall Street. He is known to encourage competition of ideas, consensus building, transparency,
and to possess an outward-looking worldview. Geithner’s nuanced understanding of monetary
and fiscal policy served him in managing international market crises in Argentina, Mexico,
Thailand, Brazil, and South Korea. He was integral in allowing Russia to default on its debt in
1998 and played a key role in helping Asian markets during the crash of the late 1990s. More
recently, and more controversially, he helped orchestrate bailouts for Bear Stearns, Lehman
Brothers, and AIG.

Geithner has warned for years about the potentially destabilizing consequences of lack of
federal oversight of major financial systems. He strongly supports increasing the authority of
Treasury to find innovative solutions to this crisis.

Geithner has lived in East Africa, India, Thailand, China and Japan. After working at
Kissinger Associates, the lobbying firm of the former Secretary of State, he joined the Treasury
Department in 1988. He then moved on to the Council on Foreign Relations before assuming a
post at the International Monetary Fund in 2001. In 2003, he became the President and CEO of
the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Geithner is close to former Secretary of Treasury
Lawrence Summers, to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and to Paul Volcker. He
maintains a close working rapport with Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke and is a confidante
of current Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Head Staff, Economic Recovery Advisory Board

Goolsbee, known for meeting with Canadian officials to insist that a President Obama would
not seek to renegotiate NAFTA, is a steadfast centrist with an unapologetic commitment to
free trade. He derides the Bush administration for not having sufficiently enforced the rule of
current free trade agreements and for underutilizing the World Trade Organization to settle trade
disputes. He is strongly opposed to deficit spending and argues that a balanced budget serves
as an insurance policy against future crises by allowing a larger margin for maneuver in the
instance of a national emergency or global financial crisis. He also warns that foreign
ownership of American debt threatens its geopolitical stance.

Goolsbee, an expert in tax policy, criticizes the Bush tax cuts for the rich, which have not only
failed politically but have also contributed to the record U.S. deficit. He calls to repeal those tax
cuts, to institute middle class tax cuts, and to reduce federal spending in order to fully finance
Obama’s policy proposals and to meet his goals in health care, education, and reducing poverty.

Goolsbee is currently a professor at the University of Chicago, but has criticized supply-side
economics, the current to which that university subscribes. He is also a senior research fellow
with the American Bar Association, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic
Research, and a columnist for the New York Times. Goolsbee has worked at the Progressive
Policy Institute and for the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. His political
experience is limited to the Obama and Kerry presidential campaigns. In the Obama White
House, Goolsbee will essentially serve as deputy to Paul Volcker.

Senior Advisor on Domestic Economic Policy to Obama Campaign

Currently a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, research associate at the National Bureau of
Economic Research, and member of the advisory board of the Center for American Progress,
Liebman has served as a top advisor to President-elect Obama in the area of domestic
economic policy, notably on tax and budget policy. His research areas of expertise also
include income distribution, poverty, housing, Social Security, and other entitlement programs.

During the Clinton Administration, Liebman served as both a special economic advisor to the
president and a member of the special working group on Social Security reform. A reputed
centrist, Liebman has advocated for payroll tax increases to fund meaningful Social Security
reform. He insists that any solution to solving the problem of Social Security would require
cutting benefits, raising taxes, or a combination of both. He has also publicly supported the
partial privatization of Social Security accounts, as well.

Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

Orszag was the director of the Congressional Budget Office since January 2007 and resigned
immediately after being named Director of OMB. Previously, Orszag oversaw a staff of more
than 200, which was responsible for producing nonpartisan economic and policy issues
analyses. Instead of following tradition of number crunching, Orszag chose to use his position
as a platform to become a leading voice for health care reform in the United States. He has
often stated that health care reform remains the single largest threat to the U.S., and that cost
increases for entitlement programs such as Medicaid and Medicare will contribute to
unsustainable budget deficits. Widely popular, Orszag has drawn bipartisan praise for his
wisdom and deep understanding of the complexities of the budget.

As Director of the OMB, Orszag will comb the federal budget looking to eliminate inefficient or
nonworking programs and will contribute to policy-making vis-à-vis health care, the
environment, and education. Orszag is pleased to assume a position that will have message
control over the financials, and thus a major role in determining the President’s policies.

Orszag was a member of former President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors before
becoming his economic advisor. After founding an economic consulting firm, he moved to the
Brookings Institution where he co-directed the Hamilton Project (of which Jason Furman was a
member) with his mentor Richard Rubin. And like other disciples of Rubin, Orszag is often
accused of being too centrist – that is, in favor of free trade and vocal on fiscal restraint.
Another mentor to Orszag was Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

Secretary of Commerce

The most influential Latino politician in America, New Mexico Governor Richardson will serve
as the United States’ liaison with the domestic and international business communities, will
promote U.S. technology abroad, and will protect American intellectual property. A pragmatist
capable of crossing party lines, Richardson’s record of presiding over strong economic
growth during his time as governor adds to the case for his qualifications to hold this post. In
2006, Forbes named Albuquerque the best city in the U.S. for businesses and careers based on
Richardson’s reforms. But his heavy Washington resume suggests that his appointment to
Commerce is effectively a political demotion and consolation prize for Secretary of State.

Throughout his career – fifteen years in Congress, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations then
Secretary of Energy under Clinton, and finally Governor – Richardson built up first an innate
understanding of state and federal bureaucracies and how to maneuver through them, then a
reputation as a tough negotiator and innovative diplomat with vast international
experience. He has been dispatched to talk with some of America’s staunchest adversaries and
directly participated in the successful release of Americans in custody in North Korea, Sudan,
and Iraq. In 2003, he met with a North Korean delegation, at their request, to discuss concerns
about that country’s nuclear program and was sent again, by the White House, in 2005 and 2006.
In 2007, he was named “Special Envoy for Hemispheric Affairs” at the Organization of
American States to promote regional immigration and free trade.

Director of the Council of Economic Advisors

Romer, a professor at the University of California (Berkeley), is a specialist in U.S.

microeconomics and recessions, particularly the Great Depression. She has researched
significantly on the effects of monetary policy on growth and inflation, and the effects of tax
cuts on investment and government spending. While Romer argues that tax increases, for
example to reduce a budget deficit, hinder economic growth and dampen investment, she also
notes that tax cuts can generally be linked to increased government spending. Overall, she
concludes that the main result of tax cuts is to temporarily offset legislated tax increases,
which almost inevitably follow. More recently, she has publicly supported the Federal Reserve’s
aggressive first response to the crisis was correct, emphasizing the need to save the New York
financial market and thus to buy the time to reflect on the necessary innovations to come.

Prior to her professorship at Berkeley, Romer was a professor at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson
School and former vice president of the American Economic Association. She is currently co-
director of the Monetary Economics Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
She is otherwise well known for her extensive collaboration with her husband, David H. Romer.

Co-Chair, Obama Economic Transition Team

Rubin, former Secretary of Treasury during the Clinton administration from 1995-1999, and
senior economic advisor to President-elect Obama, is a figure that looms large over Obama’s
economic team. Several of his protégés – including Michael Froman, Peter Orszag, and Timothy
Geithner among others – have already been selected for key positions, meaning that Obama is
already being associated with “Rubinomics,” the brand of economics that favors reducing
spending, eliminating the deficit, and balancing the budget as the pillars of financial
policy, even at the expense of investments in technology, research and development, and
infrastructure. Liberals often criticize Rubin for his support of free trade. Overall, both parties
perceive him as focused on policy over politics.

Prior to his service as Treasury Secretary, Rubin spent significant time in the Clinton White
House, as first-ever director of the National Economic Council then as economic policy advisor.
Soon after becoming Treasury Secretary in 1995, Rubin, along with Federal Reserve Chief Alan
Greenspan, advised President Clinton to provide $20 billion in loan guarantees to lift Mexico
from its financial crisis. Two years later, during the course of 1997 and 1998, Rubin and
Greenspan, joined by Deputy Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, successfully worked
with the International Monetary Fund to curb crises in the Latin American, Russian, and
Asian markets.

More recently, Rubin has been criticized for helping to create the conditions that led to the
current financial crisis. Upon leaving the government, he joined Citigroup in a strategic and
managerial capacity and led them 1 - to consolidate investment, commercial banking, and
insurance services, and 2 - to take greater risk in debt markets. While at Treasury, Rubin
vehemently opposed regulation of derivatives and even favored stripping the derivatives
regulatory agency of its authority. In 2008, insufficient regulation of credit derivatives was a

fundamental cause of failure of Bear Stearns, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and
Washington Mutual. More recently, he has changed his views on regulation, understanding
that the crisis calls for a new approach.

Rubin is co-chair of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations and co-directs the
Hamilton Project housed within the Brookings Institution. Rubin is a former member of the
board of both the Ford Motor Company and the New York Stock Exchange, and serves on the
Africa Progress Panel, an independent group that prescribes development opportunities in

Director of the National Economic Council (NEC)

As Director of the National Economic Council, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers
will be the president’s senior economic advisor, a role that he played in an unofficial capacity
during the final months of the campaign. As NEC Director, Summers’ widely touted brilliance
and expertise in the area of global economic issues will be exercised through four primary
functions –ensuring compatibility of all economic decisions with the President’s agenda,
overseeing the implementation of the President’s economic agenda, and coordinating both
policy-making efforts and economic advice on behalf of the President.

At Treasury, Summers advocated for deregulation, free trade, and free-market policies. He
worked to extend financial privacy protections, reform corporate tax havens, and reduce
predatory lending. However, since he has reconsidered his stance on each, asserting the need
for increased regulation, trade restrictions, and policies that aim to eliminate the income gap. He
was a key negotiator of China’s entry into the World Bank, worked to coordinate expansion of
third world debt forgiveness, and has fought for greater transparency in the financial system.

Currently a professor at Harvard, where he was President from 2001 to 2006, Summers was
ousted after backlash for his comments that women may be inherently incapable of math and
science. Earlier, Summers was Deputy and Under Secretary of the Treasury, economic advisor
to President Reagan, Chief Economist at the World Bank.

Head of Economic Working Group, Obama Transition Team

Tarullo, Georgetown Law professor and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is an
expert on international economic regulation and banking law. During the Clinton
Administration, he worked first in the State Department on economic policy before becoming
Clinton’s top coordinator of its international economic policy. Tarullo has written extensively
on problems with sovereign debt, international financial regulation, and trade. He is noted
for criticism of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which Obama eventually
voted again, stating that it is a flawed pact that has been ineffective at addressing development
challenges and diffusing the gains in the region. Recently, he has written about the need to
increase regulation on banks and is actively involved with the formulation of regulatory policy
for the upcoming administration.

Director of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board

Volcker was selected to head the President’s Economic Recovery Board, which will gather
business, academic, and other leaders to find creative, innovative solutions to the financial crisis.
The choice of Volcker, who has become one of Obama’s closest advisors, was made not only to
reassure markets, but also to bring aboard a sober realist – one with a special credibility to
frankly assess the ongoing implementation of the eventual stimulus package. A fiercely
independent thinker with a common sense approach, Volcker will do whatever it takes to
repair massive economic damage – no matter how unpopular or tough. Volcker is not an
economist but is credited with having a better, more nuanced understanding of markets and
economies than many others with formal training.

He is best known as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve under former Presidents Jimmy Carter
and Ronald Reagan. When appointed by Carter, amidst two oil crises, Volcker immediately
identified spiraling inflation as the key the instability of the time. He foresaw the larger,
structural implications of inflation and vowed to do whatever necessary to rein it in. By limiting
money supply and cutting credit, he dramatically slashed inflation within just two years,
but was faulted for plunging the U.S. into a recession with the highest unemployment rate since
the Great Depression. Although initially controversial, Volcker’s tactics - including rapid
increases of interest rates - were eventually lauded for breaking the cycle of inflation and
stabilizing prices. Volcker served as Chairman of the Fed until 1987.

Volcker has recently criticized budget deficits, entitlement programs such as Medicare
and Social Security, and American dependence on foreign capital to finance its debt. He
has become more active in the debate surrounding restructuring financial regulation and is
praised as a reasonable, temperate, and disciplined voice in the flurry of the “casino economy.”

Obama Administration Key Advisors – ECONOMIC TEAM

Name Position

William M. Daley Co-Chair, Obama Economic Transition Team

Michael Froman Advisory Board Member, Obama Transition


Jason Furman Under consideration for a top deputy’s post in

economic and fiscal policy

Timothy Geithner Treasury Secretary

Austen Goolsbee Head Staff, National Economic Recovery


Peter Orszag Director, Office of Management and Budget

Bill Richardson Commerce Secretary

Christina Romer Director, Council of Economic Advisors

Robert Rubin Co-Chair, Obama Economic Transition Team

Lawrence Summers Director, National Economic Council

Daniel K. Tarullo Head, Economic Working Group, Transition


Paul Volcker Director, National Economic Recovery Board

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