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The Rubin White House
Obama’s economic team and the shadow of Robert Rubin

“It is testament to the star power of former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin,” said Jackie Calmes in the International Herald Tribune, that Barack Obama’s economic team is “a virtual Rubin constellation.” But just because Obama nominees Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, and Peter Orszag are “Rubin protégés” doesn’t mean they’ll adhere to “Rubinomics”—"balanced budgets, free trade, and financial deregulation.”

Like Rubin, Geithner and Summers are “Wall Street friendly and moderate on economic issues,” said Brian Wingfield in Forbes online, but today’s economic challenges are different than in the late 1990s, and “Obamanomics isn’t Rubinomics.” Obama wants a deficit-stretching “massive economic stimulus” and higher taxes on the rich “at some point,” and the Rubinites will go along.

Still, being tied to Rubin looks pretty bad at the moment, said Steven Pearlstein in The Washington Post. Rubin is a top board member at the just-bailed-out Citigroup, and given his advocacy for deregulation and Enron, there’s been “surprisingly little damage” to his reputation. But after Citi’s “sweeheart” bailout, Obama would be wise to “leave Rubin out of the mix.””

There’s more than one way to be a “Rubinite,” said Ezra Klein in The American Prospect online. One of the criticisms of Rubin is that he was “viscerally sympathetic” to his former investment banking colleagues. But Geithner, Summers, Orszag, and Jason Furman “aren’t Wall Street guys”—they’re mostly “talented civil servants.” And that could make all the difference.

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