Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Steve Hilderbrand, William Greider Obama's economic advisors

Kudos to brother blogspot blogger at choosingdemocracy for bringing attention to Steve Hilderbrand's blog post at Huffington Post, and to William Greider's column at The Nation. (Hilderbrand's bio at HuffPo reports that he was "National Deputy Campaign Manager where he oversaw the state, field and political operations [of Obama's campaign.")

Hilderbrand asks President -elect Barack Obama's left critics to go easy on him.


In a time of economic crisis that threatens to get worse, and snowballing corporate layoffs, why should we accept Obama's economic appointments? These people are corporate neo-liberal retreads from the Clinton administration. The status quo got this economic sick.

This is the time to reverse course, not to listen to the conventional wisdom from the pro-corporate establishment.

In fact, many of these advisors are straight from the disreputable mega-banks themselves. Witness, the Citigroup connection that William Greider called attention to last month in "The Nation," "Past and Future."

An opening excerpt from the Nation opinion piece:
A year ago, when Barack Obama said it was time to turn the page, his campaign declaration seemed to promise a fresh start for Washington. I, for one, failed to foresee Obama would turn the page backward. The president-elect's lineup for key governing positions has opted for continuity, not change. Virtually all of his leading appointments are restoring the Clinton presidency, only without Mr. Bill. In some important ways, Obama's selections seem designed to sustain the failing policies of George W. Bush.

William Greider: Timothy Geithner is responsible for much of the generous deal-making now underway with Wall Street. If Obama's not careful, he will be blamed.

This is not the last word and things are changing rapidly. But Obama's choices have begun to define him. His victory, it appears, was a triumph for the cautious center-right politics that has described the Democratic party for several decades. Those of us who expected more were duped, not so much by Obama but by our own wishful thinking.
. . .
. . . . Now [Robert] Rubin is himself a Citicorp executive and his bank is now being saved by his old protégé (Geithner) with the taxpayers' money.

The connections go way beyond irony. They raise very serious questions about where the new president intends to lead and whether he has the nerve to break from the weak and haphazard strategy of the Bush administration. It has dumped piles of public money on the largest financial institutions and demanded little or nothing in return, hoping for the best. Geithner has been a central player in the deal-making, from Bear Stearns to AIG to Citi. The strategy has not only failed, it has arguably made things worse as savvy market players saw through the contradictions and rushed out to dump more bank stocks.

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