Obama pivoting to … Bain?
posted at 10:41 am on September 13, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Remember in the far-off distant past when Russia wasn’t a geopolitical foe, we only wanted peace in Syria, and Bain represented “vulture capitalism” and not true and fair economics? Good times, good times. Of course, all of that was just one year ago. Now we have Russia dictating the terms of our foreign policy, we want to bomb Syria, and our economic future depends on putting a former Bain executive in charge.
Too bad it’s not the one who actually ran for President:
President Obama has chosen Jeffrey D. Zients, an entrepreneur who twice was the president’s acting budget director and a past candidate for two cabinet positions, to succeed Gene B. Sperling as the chief White House economic adviser.
The shift, which was confirmed by several administration officials and will be announced on Friday, does not portend change in the president’s economic agenda. But with Mr. Sperling’s exit on Jan. 1 after nearly three years in the White House and two at the Treasury Department, Mr. Obama will lose an adviser who has been known as a perpetual motion machine for progressive domestic policy ideas since the Clinton administration.
Yes, the New York Times describes Zients as an “entrepreneur,” but never explains where he exercised those skills and talents. The word “Bain” never appears in this 1000-word article, but the Daily Caller connects the dots where the Gray Lady shades her eyes:
The appointment was leaked to the New York Times on Friday. The paper did not not mention the advisor’s controversial connection to Bain or Romney. Politico’s Playbook failed to mention the appointment entirely.
On the campaign, Obama repeatedly slammed Romney’s management-consulting business, and one of his TV-ads even suggested Romney was responsible for the death of a former employee’s spouse, who passed away after a battle with cancer.
The appointment of Jeff Zients is likely to annoy some union officials and some liberal groups who are focused on declining working-class wages and growing poverty, and it clashes with the populist anti-business invective used by Obama and his aides on the 2012 campaign trail to paint Romney as uncaring.
We’ve noted the hypocrisy before, when Obama appointed Zients as Budget Director in early 2012 — just as the Obama re-election campaign was gearing up to attack Mitt Romney’s “vulture capitalism” and demonize the work both men did at Bain. The Times actually does mention the fact that Zients had no government experience in 2009 when he came aboard the OMB as Peter Orszag’s deputy, but also notes that Zients ran into trouble with the Senate for attempting to bypass its oversight of the administration:
Mr. Zients, 46, had no government experience when he joined the administration in June 2009 as the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. He had made his fortune as an executive at corporate management and media companies and at his own private equity firm, Portfolio Logic, and was chosen by the president for his expertise in business and management efficiencies.
He was easily confirmed by the Senate and designated by the president as the government’s “chief performance officer,” a job that Mr. Obama proposed in his presidential campaign. Mr. Zients identified ways to cut federal costs through eliminating, reorganizing or consolidating agencies and introducing more efficient ways of operating.
Mr. Zients quickly impressed Mr. Obama and was long rumored for promotion. But he alienated Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and was opposed to Mr. Zients’s recommendations that would have removed government functions from the committee’s jurisdiction. That breach has complicated Mr. Zients’s advancement.
That, and the need to promote more women in the second term after being criticized for surrounding himself with men, led Obama to bypass Zients for the second time when Jack Lew departed for Treasury. As an economic adviser, Zients won’t require confirmation by the Senate, but he’ll be around to influence Obama’s policy on his pivot to the economy. Will that lead to any changes in Obamanomics and the stagnation it has produced over the last four years? Don’t bet on it:
But Zients has stellar credentials as a progressive believer in the ability of government and corporate experts to manage Americans’ economy.
Obviously, we’re getting the wrong Bain executive at the economic-policy helm … but that’s the fault of voters who bought the whole “vulture capitalism” smear in 2012.