Saturday, April 10, 2010

Meet One of the Behind the Scenes Operators Pulling President Obama's Strings

Politico reports:
Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin — who watched his reputation as an economic titan shatter after he left the Clinton White House — is decidedly out of favor in the nation’s capital.

Except for one place — the Obama administration.

Behind the scenes, Rubin still wields enormous influence in Barack Obama’s Washington, chatting regularly with a legion of former employees who dominate the ranks of the young administration’s policy team. He speaks regularly to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who once worked for Rubin at Treasury.

According to Geithner’s public calendar, the treasury secretary spoke or met with Rubin at least four times in the first six months of Geithner’s tenure. Three of those chats, including an hourlong session in Rubin’s New York office, came before President Obama released his Wall Street regulatory reform proposal in June 2009.

Rubin’s is a discreet kind of influence, though, because the veteran Wall Street hand is still dealing with the fallout from his post-White House career. He took a job at Citigroup, where the bank’s collapse was averted only by the injection of $45 billion in taxpayer bailout cash....The long list of Rubin acolytes working for Obama includes National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, Geithner counselor Gene Sperling, Budget Director Peter Orszag, Deputy Assistant to the President Michael Froman (who worked with Rubin at Treasury and at Citigroup), National Economic Council official Jason Furman, Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and Gary Gensler, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Summers and many of the other officials also get regular phone calls from Rubin.

Also, many of the basic assumptions underlying Obama’s approach to the economy can be traced to Rubin’s ideas about the way capitalism should work, say former colleagues..

Today, Rubin spends the bulk of his time in an office he pays for himself at the Council on Foreign Relations headquarters in New York’s Upper East Side. As co-chairman of the board, he spends his time talking about China and Russia with Henry Kissinger and African development ideas with Kofi Annan. He is the chairman of the Local Initiatives Service Corp., a community development organization. He’s also vice chairman of Mount Sinai Hospital, sits on Harvard’s governing board and oversees the Hamilton Project, an economic initiative of the Brookings Institution.

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