Predicting Romney’s picks is a little tougher than predicting President Obama’s second-term economic team, as was done in Wednesday’s article. Obama has a 31 / 2 year-record in the job, revealing whom he trusts, as well as the kinds of sensibilities he prefers in his close advisers. But here are some of the names that Republican economic policy veterans expect Romney would consider if he builds a team.
Topping the list is the Treasury secretary job, a Cabinet post that requires a mix of intelligence, gravitas and management skill. Romney has a number of options for the most visible member of a White House economic team:
Robert Zoellick completed a five-year term as president of the World Bank over the summer, and he has been advising Romney as part of his foreign policy transition team. The former U.S. trade representative under the George W. Bush administration would likely be a top contender for Treasury secretary in a Romney administration, assuming he did not end up in a top foreign policy job, such as secretary of state. But Zoellick’s foreign policy role has been under attack from the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, which increases the odds that he would end up at 1500 Pennsylvania Ave., rather than in Foggy Bottom.
Rob Portman, the senator from Ohio who was considered as a potential Romney running mate and has been an effective campaign surrogate, would surely warrant some consideration. During high-stakes budget negotiations, the Office of Management and Budget director under George W. Bush would know the substance of the debate and the congressional politics. One major downside: His appointment would leave a Senate vacancy in a swing state when control of the body could hinge on a only a few votes. Romney and Portman have had plenty of face time in recent days: Portman has portrayed Obama in preparations for Wednesday night’s debate.
Glenn Hubbard was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers early in the Bush administration and was an architect of the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. He has advised Romney in both his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. It is rare for an academic to serve as Treasury secretary (Larry Summers’s tenure at the end of the Clinton administration was the only one in recent decades), but Hubbard, the dean of Columbia University’s business school, has been effective in areas far beyond the ivory tower. Still, an appointment to Treasury could complicate his potential candidacy for the Federal Reserve chairmanship, which comes open in January 2014.
Another significant candidate to lead Treasury is not an individual at all — it’s an archetype. Call it the Mystery CEO. During his long business career, Romney has interacted with hundreds of corporate executives and could well decide that one of them has the right mix of skills for the post. This was the approach that George W. Bush took with his first two appointments to the office: Paul O’Neill and John Snow, who had been chief executives of aluminum giant Alcoa and railroad CSX, respectively. Neither was on the radar of many Washington policy hands before his appointment, and Romney could pull a similar surprise. Arguing against it: Neither O’Neill nor Snow had a particularly illustrious run in his job.
Beyond those bold-faced names, there are two more Bush administration veterans who could be considered for Treasury. And even if passed over for the big job, they could be considered as a deputy Treasury secretary or as a close-to-the-president’s-ear adviser in the White House.
Randal Quarles is, as blogger Felix Salmon of Reuters put it, a “mini-Romney.” After serving in the Bush Treasury (including as undersecretary for international affairs), he joined the Carlyle Group. He and Romney are perhaps the most prominent Mormon private equity executives in existence. Quarles also earned rave reviews in the Bush administration for his team-player approach to governing.
Kevin Warsh served in the Bush White House and then spent five years as a Federal Reserve governor, where he was among Fed chief Ben Bernanke’s closest colleagues during the financial crisis cleanup. He has distanced himself from Bernanke’s monetary easing policy since 2010, however, which makes him more simpatico with Romney’s economic views. Warsh, 42, would be young for a Treasury secretary, but then, he has seemed too young for every job he has ever had. He has told friends, however, that he prefers to stay in New York in the private sector.
As Romney staffed his White House, he could see Douglas Holtz-Eakin as a strong candidate for a couple of senior jobs. The former Congressional Budget Office chief could bring his knowledge of fiscal policy to the Office of Management and Budget or serve as the all-purpose traffic manager for economic policy as director of the National Economic Council.
Jim Nussle, a former member of Congress and OMB director in Bush’s last two years in office, could also make a return to government, perhaps back to the OMB or to any of several Cabinet positions.
Others who had economic policy roles in the Bush years who might be due for a promotion in a Romney administration include Tim Adams, former Treasury undersecretary; Chuck Blahaus, an expert in Social Security and Medicare; and Kristin Forbes, an MIT economist who served on Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.
Original article on Washington Post