Ed Luce reports:
Obama urged to regain 'political narrative': Barack Obama, US president, has lost control of the political narrative and needs to make more use of his cabinet in order to regain it, says John Podesta, the man who headed the president's transition team. "My friends in the White House would agree with this, that they lost the narrative," Mr Podesta said in an interview for View from DC, the Financial Times' video series from Washington. "Clearly that needs not one speech once in a while: it needs, I think, to be constantly reinforced. And not just by the president, but by his entire team . . . He's got a terrific cabinet. Use it. Get out into the country and use it."
Mr Podesta, who was also a chief of staff to Bill Clinton, drew parallels with the former president's difficulties in his first two years, which culminated in the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress following the failure of healthcare reform. When asked whether the failure of this latest attempt at healthcare reform would result in a similar electoral "massacre" for the Democratic party at the mid-term elections in November, he said: "I subscribe to that view." Mr Podesta, whom Mr Obama still regularly consults, founded the Centre for American Progress, Washington's largest liberal think-tank. It was often described as a "government-in-exile" during the years George W. Bush was in the White House.
He said there was still a better than 50:50 chance of getting healthcare reform through.
Were Barack Obama to ask me what he should do, I would tell him to do two things tomorrow morning that would, I think, make this a better country:
Pull Gene Sperling from the Treasury to the White House to be Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Strategy, and put hi in charge of the politico-economic narrative. I'm sure he's doing good things for Tim Geithner over at the Treasury, but I don't think it's Gene's highest and best use.
Recess appoint two Fed governors who think like Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen--Barry Eichengreen, David Romer, Alicia Munnell, Peter Diamond, Martin Baily, Jeffrey Frankel, there are a huge number of people who would be happy to take a recess appointment as a Fed Governor--to give them some backup on the FOMC.
That would, I think, change the political-media climate in a good direction in three months and change the economy in a good direction in a year.