Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Idiots?
Will China Allow the Renminbi to Appreciate?

Andrew Card as Treasury Secretary?

Bruce Bartlett does not think that Andrew Card is qualified to run the Treasury Department:

The Washington Post reported on Sept. 9 that Treasury Secretary John Snow is once again being shown the door. His rumored replacement is White House chief of staff Andrew Card, who would then be replaced either by deputy chief of staff Karl Rove or Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolten. This sounds like a bad plan to me. It was only a few months ago that there were almost daily leaks from the White House about Snow being dismissed. When asked to comment on the record, the White House denied any intention of firing him. Secretary Snow could stay as long as wanted to, a spokesman said, “provided it is not very long,” the Post reported.

Although Mr. Snow eventually got a White House reprieve, he might as well have left.... Even though the secretary of the Treasury chairs the board of trustees of the Social Security trust fund... fundamental reform of our nation’s oldest and largest entitlement program was largely entrusted to a couple of mid-level White House staffers with neither the experience nor the resources to manage such an important project.... Little wonder, then, that the reform effort has gotten no traction, despite an enormous commitment of time by the president in giving pep talks all over the country.... Usually, there is a report drafted by the cabinet department with primary expertise that is published by the Government Printing Office and widely distributed. Such a report would explain the philosophy and rationale for the policy change, and contain a detailed proposal.... Nothing like this was done for Social Security....

Yet despite the widespread criticism of the White House for putting an inexperienced political hack in charge the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it appears poised to do the same thing to the Treasury Department. But as Katrina shows, while it’s not too hard to run a government agency during normal times, it can be extremely difficult in a crisis. In such circumstances, we desperately need people with leadership skills and technical expertise, neither of which former FEMA director Michael Brown had.

Many experts are now deeply concerned about the stresses and strains in the financial sector of the economy and fearful that a crisis could emerge at any moment. The huge budget and current account deficits, rising energy and gold prices, a bubble in the housing market, out of control hedge funds, and a corporate pension system in the process of collapse are just some of the things that could trigger a financial crisis. Should that happen, I fear that Andy Card would be as out of his depth as Michael Brown was in New Orleans...

Certainly there is no reason to think that Andrew Card is qualified to direct either international economic policy coordination, manage the fiscal policy of the United States, or regulate its financial system. And I have not met anybody who has in private praised Andrew Card's performance as White House chief of staff. The consensus is that he has made sure that the president hears only what the president wants to hear. But the job of chief of staff is to make sure that the president hears what the president needs to hear.