If Gov. Romney wins the election, his Cabinet will take a very different direction on economic policy than President Obama’s—particularly since Romney has opted not to commit to include any Democrats in his administration. Here are some possibilities for Romney appointees to those key Cabinet positions that guide economic policy, and a couple of new ones Obama might make if he is re-elected.
Romney Cabinet: Vice President
The outlook Paul Ryan (left) would bring to a Romney Cabinet includes such diverse author influences as Ayn Rand (although of late he has distanced himself from her religious views, her fiscal principles are still very much in evidence) and the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, author of The Road to Serfdom.
Among the mentors who have shaped Ryan’s view of both politics and economics are the libertarian Rich Hart, an economics professor who discussed not just economics but politics with the future VP candidate. Hart, who according to a Los Angeles Times report jokes that he is a member of a group of faculty at Miami University of Ohio that’s “to the right of Attila the Hun,” opposes the minimum wage and believes that public schools fail inner-city kids.
Others who have influenced Ryan’s beliefs to one degree or another include the late Rep. Jack Kemp, R-N.Y., although he, says a Newsmax report, unlike Ryan, did not espouse government cuts or tough love for the poor. There’s also former education secretary and drug czar Bill Bennett, who served under Reagan and the first Bush in those posts, respectively; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a champion of supply-side economics; and Stanford University economist John Taylor, who has served in three Republican administrations. Romney Cabinet: Department of Treasury
Who would Romney choose to head the Treasury Department instead of Tim Geithner? Speculation runs rife that it could be anyone from former World Bank President Robert Zoellick (left), who has already been offering Romney guidance on foreign policy, to Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who served as Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director under George W. Bush. But Portman’s accession to a Treasury slot rather than retaining his seat in the Senate could jeopardize Republican legislative goals should outcomes continue to depend on a few senators’ votes either way—so Portman could opt, or be opted, out of eligibility.
Another likely possibility is Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia University’s business school, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers early under George W. Bush and also helped to orchestrate the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. A recent profile of Hubbard in The New York Times, titled “Romney’s Go-To Economist,” says that Hubbard not only assisted in the drafting of Romney’s economic and tax policies, he also gave his stamp of approval to those he did not originate.
Hubbard’s elevation to head Treasury could mean he would be out of the running to chair the Federal Reserve—a post that comes up in 2014—so, depending on his preferences, he, too, might bow out. If so, Treasury could end up being run by Mike Leavitt, former Utah governor and Health and Human Services secretary under President George W. Bush. Leavitt, a fellow Mormon, is currently heading Romney’s transition team, but has been mentioned as a possible candidate for Treasury secretary—although chief of staff could be more likely.
Obama Cabinet Changes: But What About…
With Geithner (far left) departing even if President Obama wins a second term, some names are being bandied about for his replacement in a Democratic administration. They include Erskine Bowles, of Simpson-Bowles fame; Bowles formerly served as White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. (There is a chance that Romney could opt for Bowles as well, since his hand on the deficit reduction plan was so heavy—it would give a nod to bipartisanship.)
Another mention as a replacement in a second Democratic term, according to The New York Times, is Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock (Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, was reportedly also on the list at one point, but now apparently has been crossed off).
But the favorite, according to The Times, is Jacob Lew, Obama’s chief of staff. Lew, a former lawyer and career technocrat, put in a brief stint as CEO of Citigroup’s Alternative Investments unit, but other than that is not known for having a business background. Romney Cabinet: Department of Labor
Currently headed by Hilda L. Solis, Labor could be in for a major shakeup as well. One of the splashier names being bruited about as her possible successor in a Romney administration is Scott Walker (left), governor of Wisconsin, who made headlines by tangling with public worker unions in an effort to control the state’s budget. Former Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri, co-chairman at the lobbying and public strategy firm Mercury Public Affairs, has also been mentioned in connection with the job.
Another possibility, and one less politically fraught, is that of William Kilberg, lead counsel for Boeing, who also chairs the Labor Policy Committee for the Romney campaign.
Kilberg has taken on the National Labor Relations Board on Boeing’s behalf after the NLRB filed suit claiming that Boeing opened a new plant in Charleston, S.C., to retaliate against union workers in the Puget Sound area for striking. He has also served as legal counsel for the Department of Labor.
Romney Cabinet: Federal Reserve
Glenn Hubbard (left), already mentioned as a possibility for Treasury secretary, could end up running the Fed instead when Ben Bernanke’s term as chairman ends in 2014. In his previous role in the Bush administration, Hubbard advocated financial deregulation. He has also been criticized for being too chummy with the industries about which he studies and writes. Both could possibly count as strikes against him for this position.
Another possibility is Martin Feldstein, professor of economics at Harvard University, who used to chair Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors and who has not hesitated to voice his low opinion of Bernanke’s use of QE. A Feldstein appointment would place the Romney administration firmly in the camp of anti-inflationism, while also bolstering support for Romney’s tax plan.
John Taylor, whose mentoring influence on Ryan has already been noted, is another contender for the slot, and supposedly a top one. With previous service on the White House Council of Economic Advisers and as under secretary of Treasury for international affairs, Taylor is experienced in public policy. He was also the originator of the Taylor Rule, used to set interest rates. And he too is critical of Bernanke’s tactics to combat the financial crisis.
One more name that has come up as a candidate, if an outside one, for Fed chief is Gregory Mankiw, professor of economics at Harvard. A couple of Mankiw’s more controversial beliefs are, according to The Blaze, that economic inequality is natural and outsourcing is good. Obama Cabinet Changes: And Just in Case…
Of course, with Ben Bernanke’s recent announcement to friends, if not to the public, that he won’t serve a third term even if Obama is re-elected, change will apparently come to the Fed regardless of the election’s outcome. Lawrence Summers, says The New York Times, is at the top of the list. Treasury secretary under Clinton and director of the National Economic Council for Obama, Summers is thought to offer follow-through on Bernanke’s policies.
If not Summers, then who? Janet Yellen, vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, would be the first woman to run the Fed if chosen, and she too could offer continuity. Economist Alan Krueger also gets a mention; he served for a short time as an assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy under Obama.
And since it will be a year till Bernanke steps down, one more possibility is being offered: Tim Geithner. After a year out of Treasury, the theory goes, Geithner may be ready and willing to take on the Fed. He’s already put in time, after all, as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York during the financial crisis. Romney Cabinet: Council of Economic Advisers