Sunday, November 23, 2008

Barack's Brainiacs

In his recent column, New York Times writer, David Brooks writes "Jan. 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).
The domestic policy team will be there, too, including Jason Furman (Harvard, Harvard Ph.D.), Austan Goolsbee (Yale, M.I.T. Ph.D.), Blair Levin (Yale, Yale Law), Peter Orszag (Princeton, London School of Economics Ph.D.) and, of course, the White House Counsel Greg Craig (Harvard, Yale Law).
This truly will be an administration that looks like America, or at least that slice of America that got double 800s on their SATs. Even more than past administrations, this will be a valedictocracy — rule by those who graduate first in their high school classes."

Obamaniacs are euphoric over the Obama team's intellect factor. Lest they forget, it was a bunch of valedictorians on Wall Street who came up with the brilliant new financial markets of derivatives based upon mortgage backed securities which sent the economy into it's downward spiral. Intellect alone does not guarantee common sense or good policy making. From my persective, Obama's picks so far have been somewhat comforting, not based on their Ivy League pedigrees, but simply for the fact that they are not a group of left wing loons. While they are not conservative, each one is at least a bit more centrist in their views than their leader. (It will also be so entertaining to see Barry and Hil and Bill playing in the same sandbox!)

Obama's pick of Tim Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury sent a reassuring message to the markets on Friday, at a time when confidence is sorely needed. Since the election, the Dow had dropped 16% before rebounding with the leak of Geithner's name as the man who will hold the money bags. But the big elephant still stands in the room, hovering over the markets like a blanket of doom. If the economy is to recover, and not falter into a deep recession or even a depression, simply naming a team is not going to cut it. Neither will promising to invest billions of dollars into infrastructure improvements and green autos to create new jobs, as Obama mentioned in his weekly radio address. The government alone cannot jump start this jalopy. Obama must come out soon and say that he will NOT raise taxes on anyone in this economy. That message alone will pump up confidence, sooth the market jitters, and help get small businesses back on track to create the jobs Americans need. Come on, Obama, do the right thing. JUST SAY IT.

Update: Good news from the NYT- it seems he has said it!

November 23, 2008, 11:00 am — Updated: 11:08 am -->
Obama Considers Delaying Tax Increase
By Sharon Otterman
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is considering delaying his proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in light of the economic downturn, two aides said on Sunday.
Bill Daley, an adviser to Obama and commerce secretary under former President Bill Clinton, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that it “looks more likely than not” that President Obama will delay any tax increase until after 2010, when the Bush cuts for those making more than $250,000 are due to expire.

New Update: David Axelrod, Obama's chief campaign advisor, when interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News, waffled on the issue of whether Obama will let the Bush tax cuts simply expire in 2010, or raise taxes in 2009. So again, no certainty about this issue.

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