Political Favorites on Obama’s Deficit Panel
On Friday, President Obama took the next step in building his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform by announcing the remainder of his six appointees. They are: Honeywell boss Dave Cote, former Young & Rubicam Brands CEO Ann Fudge, former Federal Reserve vice chair Alice Rivlin and Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union. (The president previously tapped former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson to lead the panel.)
If Obama is serious about reducing the federal budget deficit, it seems he would stack the panel high with deficit hawks. However, only one of his appointees–Rivlin–seems to qualify. She’s currently co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s blue ribbon Debt Reduction Task Force, a wonkish prototype of the president’s more politically charged panel. As the first director of the Congressional Budget Office and a former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Rivlin also has plenty of experience with the federal budgeting process.
The others? Not so much. Fudge was a member of the Obama presidential campaign’s finance committee. Stern, a frequent White House visitor, heads a deep-pocketed labor union that contributes almost exclusively to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Cote has had a long career as a CEO but, as far as we can tell, no meaningful experience in analyzing the federal budget–a very different beast from a corporate balance sheet.
White House officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the criteria used to make these appointments to the panel. But don’t expect the 12 remaining members of the 18-person commission to compensate for the dearth of noted budget hawks among Obama’s selections. They’re to be an equal number of Democratic and Republican members of Congress–the very entity that dug America into its financial hole in the first place.