It’s hard to know exactly what to think of this:
…[T]he private-sector worries about the plans being cooked up by Geithner and Summers extend into countless corporate suites, start-ups, and small businesses far beyond Wall Street—and that until recently, the administration was comically clueless about it. When I was at the White House recently, I jokingly asked a senior Obama official if the team was having fun turning the country into a socialist state. “What are you talking about?” this official replied. “Business loves what we’re doing!”
Back in New York the following day, I related that story to a CEO pal of mine who is a big Obama backer. “What are they, smoking crack down there?” he replied. “Find me one CEO who likes what they’re doing. Seriously, find me one!”
The story by John Heilemann appeared in the Obama-friendly New York Magazine. It goes on to describe the power and policy struggles within Obama’s ecomonic “brain trust.”
My take the entire matter is this: Larry Summers and Tim Geithner may not have known what they were signing onto when they accepted their positions in this administration. Summers (at least according to the article) was the main person behind the stimulus bill. Geithner, of course, has been (sloooowly and not at all surely) attempting to deal with the financial world and the mess it got into: banks, credit, mortgages, bad paper, and all of that.
Those issues and their proposals have been controversial enough. But the real firestorm about the Obama plan came with the budget: it was shocking to almost everyone except the far Left.
The article agrees:
If the stimulus provokes concern in the private sector, the budget causes nothing short of a total freak-out. The size of it ($3.6 trillion in fiscal year 2010) and the oceans of red ink it threatens to unleash give deficit hawks the heebie-jeebies. The redistributionist tilt it brings to the tax code wigs out the wealthy, the modestly wealthy, and the wannabe wealthy. The oxen it gores (e.g., agricultural subsidies) offend entrenched industrial wards of the state.
Beyond those particulars, the sheer ambition and audacity of the thing—health-care reform, cap-and-trade, and much more—raises suspicions that the Obamans are attempting to capitalize on the crisis instead of solving it.
My guess—and it is only a guess—is that Summers and Geithner, and perhaps other economic advisers as well, spoke to Obama privately in opposition to his going full steam ahead on his budget plans without having first dealt effectively with the more pressing and immediate problems of the economy itself. And that he listened politely, as is his habit (makes everyone feel heard, don’t you know?) and then did exactly and precisely what he wanted.
Leaving Geithner and Summers to twist slowly, slowly in the wind. They may come to learn the character of the man with whom they signed on.
Judd Gregg figured it out a lot earlier, and quit before he even started. Now he’s free to say what he thinks—and there’s not a whole lotta Obamalove in it, although he defends Geithner and Summers:
The money quote:
The practical implications of [Obama’s budget] is bankruptcy for the United States. There’s no other way around it. If we maintain the proposals that are in this budget over the ten-year period that this budget covers, this country will go bankrupt. People will not buy our debt; our dollar will become devalued…And I find it almost unconscionable that this administration is essentially saying “Well, we’re just gonna blithely go along on this course of action” after they’re getting these numbers which show that they’re not, they’re not sustainable. And they know that they’re not sustainable.