Way back in 2009, JP Morgan’s Michael Cembalest published an article on Forbes.com entitled ‘Obama’s Business Blind Spot’. In it he took issue with the low level of private-sector experience amongst the President’s cabinet:
I looked back at the history of the Presidential Cabinet. Starting with the creation of the Secretary of Commerce back in 1900, I compiled the prior private-sector experience of all 432 cabinet members, focusing on those positions one would expect to participate in this discussion: Secretaries of State; Commerce; Treasury; Agriculture; Interior; Labor; Transportation; Energy; and Housing & Urban Development (a).
Many of these individuals started a company or ran one, with first-hand experience in hiring and firing, domestic and international competition, red tape, recessions, wars and technological change. Their industries included agribusiness, chemicals, finance, construction, communications, energy, insurance, mining, publishing, pharmaceuticals, railroads and steel; a cross-section of the American experience. [I even gave partial credit to attorneys focused on private-sector issues, although one could argue this is a completely different kettle of fish]. One thing is clear: The current administration, compared with past Democratic and Republican ones, marks a departure from the traditional reliance on a balance of public- and private-sector experiences.
This lack of private-sector experience is totally in keeping with the behaviour of governments that fundamentally believe they are the solution to every problem. In actual fact, the truth is far closer to Ronald Reagan’s famous remark:
Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.
This was underlined this past week when the curious announcement was made that Timothy Geithner will not only be stepping down as Treasury Secretary but will be leaving before the debt-ceiling negotiations are concluded. But, as strange as I found that piece of news, it was an article on Bloomberg about his likely successor that had me banging my head on my desk:
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner plans to leave the administration at the end of January, even if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans haven’t reached an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, according to two people familiar with the matter.
After giving in to Obama’s previous entreaties to stay as long as needed, Geithner has indicated to White House officials and Wall Street executives that he is unlikely to change his departure plans this time, increasing pressure on the president to name his successor at Treasury, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss the private talks…
So far, so good, but then, this:
White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew remains the leading contender for the Treasury job, the people said. Because Lew’s experience in financial markets is thin, Obama may seek to name a Wall Street executive as deputy Treasury secretary, they said.
While Lew, 57, worked as a managing director for Citigroup from July 2006 until the end of 2008, he’s spent most of his career in government. He served as director of the Office of Management and Budget for both Obama and President Bill Clinton and was an aide to the late Tip O’Neill, former speaker of the U.S. House.
How in the name of all that is remotely sensible can your leading candidate for the Treasury Secretary role have ‘thin’ financial markets experience? Now? After 2008? With all the problems facing the banking sector? Lew may well be an extremely smart guy; but surely, a man who spent two years at Citigroup in his 50s after a career in government isn’t the smart choice. Presumably, however, the likes of Jamie Dimon or Lloyd Blankfein wouldn’t be quick to subject themselves to the confirmation process…
But then, to top it all off, things took yet another turn for the absurd.
How utterly ridiculous have things become? Well, this week we find ourselves in the truly bizarre situation of actually spending more time discussing the ‘$1 trillion coin’.
A google search for the phrase ‘$1 trillion coin’ already yields close to 2 million results, and that number is climbing faster than the signatories to the ‘Deport Piers Morgan’ petition.
But what the hell is this all about? Are we seriously talking about producing a magical coin that will solve the debt problem? Folks, it looks like that’s the world we now live in—a world inhabited by ‘journalists’ who actually spend their time writing articles with headlines such as:
Can a $1 Trillion Coin End Debt Ceiling Crisis?
Allow me. No.
Is a $1 Trillion Coin a Good Way to Avoid Another Debt-Ceiling Impasse?
I’ll take this one too. NO!
Hell, CNN even aired a TWO-AND-A-HALF-MINUTE segment on whether this was a feasible solution, which included the opinion of ‘economist’ Joe Gagnon, who thought it was a good idea:
It’s better than a government shutdown, it’s better than defaulting on the debt. It’s better than the bad alternatives.
It gets even better.
A Democratic Senator from Brooklyn, NY, whose name—and I wish I were kidding—is Jerry Lewis Nadler, said:
I’m being absolutely serious… It sounds silly but it’s absolutely legal.
But perhaps the pick of the quotes is this one from the segment anchor, Brian Todd:
…and by the way, none of this requires Congressional consent, so that’s what makes it attractive to so many observers.
It may be technically legal, but why do these people insist on opening their mouths and letting the words escape before engaging their brains?
You cannot simply mint a 1-oz platnum coin, stamp ‘$1 Trillion’ on it, and assume it is worth $1 trillion dollars.
This is simply a cute way for politicians to technically stay within the law and have free reign over spending again. Jeez….
Central Intelligence Agency director David Petraeus has emphatically denied that he or anyone else at the CIA refused assistance to the former Navy SEALs who requested it three times as terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on the night of Sep. 11. The Weekly Standard and ABC News report that Petraeus’s denial effectively implicates President Barack Obama, since a refusal to assist “would have been a presidential decision.”
Earlier today, Denver local reporter Kyle Clarke of KUSA-TV did what the national media largely refuses to do, asking Obama directly whether the Americans in Benghazi were denied requests for aid. Obama dodged the question, but implied that he had known about the attacks as they were “happening.”
Ted Turner: I Think It’s “Good” U.S. Troops are Killing Themselves
If you can’t find words to express your contempt for Ted Turner and all he represents, here’s a few from the Great One, Mark Levin: