On economic policy…a core group of four once held the key to the policy process: Bianchi, campaign economic aide Jason Furman, investment banker Roger C. Altman and Gene Sperling, former top economic adviser in Bill Clinton’s White House.
Now, things are more complicated. Three more economists — London Business School Dean Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Princeton University’s Alan S. Blinder and the Brookings Institution’s Peter R. Orszag — are consulted on virtually every policy decision. Former Treasury secretary Robert E. Rubin also weighs in on major policy pronouncements.
Another circle, including Akerlof, University of California at Berkeley economist Alan J. Auerbach, Princeton’s Cecilia E. Rouse, and Harvard University labor economist Lawrence F. Katz, advises on specific issues.
A separate “New York group” — including investment bankers Eric Mindich, Blair Effron and Steven Rattner — tutors Kerry on matters of domestic and international finance, while helping to raise money and woo business support.
This spring, when Kerry was pushed to put policy flesh on his political rhetoric about “Benedict Arnold CEOs” and jobs moving abroad, it took weeks and “innumerable meetings” to formulate a proposal, said one of the participants.
And how about this?
George A. Akerlof, a Nobel prize-winning economist and Kerry adviser, recently became so agitated about what he considered Kerry’s muddled campaign message that he crafted an entire speech for him, straying far from his economic expertise to pit what he calls the Democratic Party’s moral view of human nature against the sinister forces that Republicans see driving humanity. The campaign politely declined.
“I thought it would be useful to see if I could write a speech,” the University of California at Berkeley economist mused. “It was just in me.”
Compare Akerlof’s feelings to this claim:
“The mark of too many cooks would be drift,” said Lael Brainard, a Kerry adviser and international economist at the Brookings Institution. “I don’t see drift. I see decisions. That leads me to believe the big tent is bringing in a broad range of opinions and is bringing about well-crafted decisions.”
If that’s not enough for you, here is the full story.
My take: It is nice to see so many smart people involved. That being said, what can we really expect from such a complex and unwieldy policy process? If you fear, as I do, that Kerry might bring too much government, this is definitely good news.