This profile of wonk player extraordinaire Peter Orszag is well worth your perusal. The main upshot is that, at least since Clinton made Rubin Treasure Secretary, and maybe earlier, there has been no line between Wall Street and the White House economic team.
From what I’ve read, Orszag was a great CBO director, but it’s hard for me to see his personal appeal. The whole thing is worth a read; I liked this passage best, because of the smugness and lack of answers.
Reich was there, and he told me that after the meeting, he confronted Rubin about the meltdown. “I asked him why did the crash happen? He said, ‘It was a perfect storm. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event.’ ” Reich, like many progressives, sees 2008 as a reassessment of the Rubin way. “Why was there a complete implosion, if Wall Street is so smart, if markets work so well?”
Orszag understands what’s fueling the populist fervor. “You don’t go through a 45 percent decline in private-sector borrowing without tensions flaring,” he says. At Citi, he’s seeing the system from the inside and developing a more complex view of it, whereas the recent political debate was stripped of all nuance.
“Almost inevitably, the public will think the administration is too close to Wall Street unless it blows up Wall Street, and Wall Street will think the administration is a bunch of flaming liberals if they don’t completely shut down that populist anger,” he says. “Sometimes the small things matter a lot, the odd phrase here, the meeting there that wasn’t handled exactly right. The conversations have been very fraught over the past two years. [Bill] Daley will help on that. It’s also the case that time and moving away from crisis mode will help, too.”