An article in today's New York Times references the internal White House debate concerning the new bailout plan gave me pause.
There were two sides to the debate: David Axelrod was Obama's campaign strategist and is now a senior political advisor to Obama in the White House. He didn't want the new stimulus plan to include too much aid to big financial institutions because he was leery of negative public reaction. Tim Geithner, the Treasury Secretary, believed that the best economic strategy was to keep helping big institutions, regardless of political fallout:
In the end, Mr. Geithner largely prevailed in opposing tougher conditions on financial institutions that were sought by presidential aides, including David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president, according to administration and Congressional officials.
Ladies and gentlemen, Obama went with the expert and not the political advisor. Even if you love Axelrod, you can't seriously argue that he's as well-versed in economics as Geithner. His arguments were coming from a purely political perspective. And he lost.
Do you think that George W. Bush ever went against policy suggestions favored by Karl Rove? Regardless of our personal feelings about the bailout, let's breathe a sigh of relief that there's a guy in the White House who's got the fortitude to make decisions based on facts, not on what's politically expedient.
Not to be a killjoy, and who knows if Geithner's plan will work, but I still think it's a little weird that the Treasury Secretary's a tax cheat.