James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Bill Daley to the White House? Business would love it

January 5, 2011

If President Barack Obama chooses JPMorgan executive William Daley as his next chief of staff he could at last build bridges with the disgruntled U.S. business community, both on Main Street and Wall Street. Daley’s pro-trade views are a big reason the buzz around his potential nomination is so loud. The pick would also bode well for reaching deals with Republicans on taxes and spending. A few observations (via my column for Reuters Breakingviews):

1. It might be a stretch to call Daley a potential “dream pick” for Corporate America — but not by much. He was President Bill Clinton’s point man on trade in 1993 and deserves much of the credit for steering the North American Free Trade Agreement through a hostile Congress. As president of SBC Communications from 2001 through 2004, his job was to schmooze top regulators and the Republican Congress. More recently, Daley said Obama — a fellow Chicagoan whom he knows well — made a mistake by focusing on healthcare reform rather than job creation. That’s a view shared by many pragmatic members of the president’s own party.

2. The Daley Scenario is more than just a bout of wishful thinking from CEOs still cranky about Obama’s accusatory tone and pro-regulatory policies during the past two years. And it’s more than just a White House trial balloon to gauge the intensity of liberal outrage over hiring a Wall Street banker for a key administration position. (The early result on that are already in: Liberals are most unhappy at the prospect.)  My sources confirm that Team Obama and Daley are having a serious conversation about the gig, though it’s hardly fait accompli. There’s even a chance Daley might instead replace Larry Summers as National Economic Council.

3. But Daley as chief of staff seems the more plausible outcome. It is certainly the more important job. When Rahm Emanuel held the position before leaving to run for Chicago mayor (replacing Daley’s brother), he was both White House gatekeeper and de facto chief economic policy adviser. Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett is the administration’s current liaison to business. But if Daley is the pick, it’s his phone number corporate bosses will dial if they need something from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

4. The same would go for Republicans. Daley is a fixer, not a general for waging ideological war against the Republicans in the next two years of Obama’s term. If party leaders want to cut a sweeping budget deal with Obama, Daley’s probably the right guy to grease the skids and make it happen. Come to think of it, it’s hard to see why the White House hadn’t thought of bringing Daley in before now.

Comments

I stopped reading after point #1. “He was President Bill Clinton’s point man on trade in 1993 and deserves much of the credit for steering the North American Free Trade Agreement through a hostile Congress.” Correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn’t it be a safe to say NAFTA was one of the final blows to the demise of American manufacturing and jobs leaving this country for cheap labor in other countries?

Posted by simplyamazed | Report as abusive
 

The Obama administration will continue its headlong dash to the right. What they don’t understand is that no matter how far to the right they run, the political right and the media will continue their shrieking about what a communist, socialist, marxist, business-hating, economy-destroying monster he is.

Obama would’ve been far better served simply pursuing his own agenda – even with healthcare “reform,” despite essentially passing the version Republicans promoted originally, he was still accused of “cramming it down the throat” of America.

Instead, Obama’s cowardice has him abandoning and alienating his base in a fruitless quest to garner the support of people who are totally committed to his destruction. It’s foolish.

I say this all from the perspective of a libertarian who didn’t even vote for the guy.

Posted by JackMack | Report as abusive
 

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