With the nation in what the president has called a financial “crisis” and even a “catastrophe,” Obama is moving away from his top financial advisors at least on some issues, and sticking close to the advice of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and policy advisor David Axelrod.
“Those guys know politics. They are listening to the Hill and watching the media and the polls. That’s driving Obama’s policy right now,” a top political analyst told us.
From The American Spectator:
Over the past ten days, as the furor over AIG retention plan bonuses has focused on Sen. Chris Dodd and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, the White House has undertaken a PR offensive to protect the highest ranking Obama Administration official who was involved in the House and Senate negotiations over the stimulus bill, in which the AIG waiver language was inserted.
“Right now, you get the feeling this is all about protecting [White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel,” says a former Treasury Department lawyer, who worked in that department’s counsel’s office on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) before joining a D.C.-based law firm in February. “At the time, we were led to believe there were basically three or four people from the Administration at the table when the final deals were cut and one of them was Emanuel.”
Informal advisers to Geithner are growing increasingly frustrated, they say, that Geithner is being held up as the straw man for the public anger over the bonuses. “Just over the weekend you saw a new guy added to the target list, [White House economics adviser Larry] Summers,” says a longtime Geithner colleague at the New York Fed. “You have Dodd, Geithner, Summers, but there were other, more senior political people involved in this mess, and their names aren’t being mentioned. Why isn’t anyone asking Rahm Emanuel, ‘What meetings were you in?’ ‘What did you and the President know and when did you know it?’ Tim has some culpability, but he’s not the guy who signed off on the Dodd language. He wasn’t that empowered to do something like that.”
Yesterday, Obama supporter and New York Times columnist Frank Rich fingered Summers as a key player in the AIG bonus mess. “Summers is so tone-deaf that he makes Geithner seem like Bobby Kennedy,” Rich wrote.
Summers currently serves as head of the National Economic Council in the White House, and has been mentioned as someone who might be forced to return to the Secretary of the Treasury post he once held in the Clinton Administration should Geithner not survive the political storm he finds himself in.
It isn’t just Rich, though, who has placed Summers in the center of the controversy. Last week, Sen. Ron Wyden, who was led to believe that language he was inserting into the stimulus bill, which would have heavily taxed such payouts as the retention bonuses, told reporters that it was the “Obama economic team” that stripped his and Sen. Olympia Snowe‘s provision from the bill. When he was asked about who he dealt with during the February negotiations over his language, he said, “Secretary Geithner, Larry Summers, and I’ll leave it at that.” He declined to name other names, though he indicated to reporters present that he was aware of others in the negotiations.
Senior Democrat leadership aides in both the House and Senate, however, insist that both Emanuel and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag were present at the meetings where the decision was made to strip out the bonus taxation language and insert the Dodd waiver.
Visit Michelle Malkin:
Politicians Who Took AIG Money Should Give It Back
Two-out-of-three Americans (67%) believe that politicians who received campaign contributions from American International Group (AIG) should return the money. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that just 21% disagree and 13% are not sure.
The belief that the politicians should give back the money is shared by a solid majority of every measured demographic group except one – America’s Political Class. In that elite group, just 29% think the contributions should be returned while 63% reject that idea.
Among America’s Populists, 77% believe the campaign cash should be returned, and only 14% disagree. Most Americans have Populist attitudes. and their perspective can reasonably be considered the perspective of Mainstream America.
Dodd took more AIG money than anyone. Obama was second.
Obama threw Dodd under the bus: