Tone-deaf president picks corporate man Daley to run staff

The Associated Press is reporting that President Barack Obama has selected William Daley as his next chief of staff. It appears that Howie Klein is right: Obama was able to pick an even worse top staffer than Rahm Emanuel. After running the White House staff for nearly two years, Emanuel recently resigned in order to run for mayor of Chicago.

Open Secrets posted a “Revolving Door” profile on Daley showing his employment history in government and as a lobbyist. More background on why Daley’s a terrible choice can be found after the jump.

Daley served as Commerce secretary during President Bill Clinton’s second term. After chairing Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, Daley went to work for SBC Communications, where he lobbied regulators and politicians for policies favorable to the telecommunications firm. Daley then became Midwest chairman for the JPMorgan bank.

While at JPMorgan, Daley has worked on some of the Midwest’s biggest takeovers. He advised Chicago’s Exelon Corp. on its unsuccessful 2004 proposal to buy Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. for $17.8 billion, and CBOT Holdings Inc., also based in Chicago, on its 2007 sale to CME Group Inc. for $11 billion, according to Corporate Control Alert, an industry newsletter.

Besides his work as a banker, he serves on several corporate boards, including Boeing Co. and Abbott Laboratories. Daley was named by Clinton to the board of Washington-based Fannie Mae in October 1993 and was reappointed in 1995.

Daley “was one of the first prominent Democrats to urge Obama to move toward the political center” in 2009 and is a trustee of the corporate-friendly think tank Third Way. As Julianna Goldman and John McCormick report for Bloomberg,

“Daley is highly respected by the business community and has great connections,” Douglas J. Elliott, a fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution and a former JPMorgan Chase managing director, said in an e-mail. Naming Daley to a top post, he said, “could help mend fences” with executives who have complained that the Democratic administration is anti- business. […]

The administration is seeking to repair relations with the business community after coming under fire from industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The nation’s biggest business lobbying group opposed Obama’s health-care and financial-regulatory overhauls and committed $75 million to political ads in the midterm congressional elections, mainly directed against Democrats.

Still, Obama is generating more optimism among corporate executives after a series of actions and overtures, including a deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, efforts to boost exports such as a U.S.-South Korea free-trade agreement, and a loosening of controls on some technology sales.

Obama met Dec. 15 with 20 company executives in Washington and said afterward he made “good progress” toward establishing closer cooperation between government and business to accelerate the economic recovery. The president has said private companies are crucial to the U.S. climbing out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

By all means, Mr. President, focus on “repairing relations” with the business community when unemployment is stuck near 10 percent. Your administration has done little for homeowners facing foreclosure (even blocking foreclosure prevention money from being spent on legal aid for homeowners). But Obama gives a top job to a high-ranking JPMorgan executive who opposed creating a new consumer financial protection agency and “worked for the Chamber of Commerce at eliminating post-Enron accounting regulations.” Hey, at least Daley’s not from Goldman Sachs like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and so many other Obama administration officials. Feel the balance!

Obama is in effect validating the claims of corporate hacks who said his financial and health insurance reform went “too far.” Good luck convincing ordinary voters in 2012 that you stood up for the little guy.

Speaking of the next presidential campaign, Obama told reporters on January 4,

“My hope is that John Boehner and Mitch McConnell will realize that there will be plenty of time to campaign for 2012 in 2012. And that our job this year is to make sure that we build on recovery,” Obama said.

The very next day, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stepped down “to become an outside political adviser to the president and his re-election campaign.”

UPDATE: Other worrying signs from the Obama administration: Last month the Environmental Protection Agency delayed implementing new rules on air pollution from smog and industrial boiler emissions. The smog rules had already been delayed twice before and were supposed to be released by the end of 2010 under a court order. The National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute were pleased with the EPA decision, but the adverse impact on public health will cost far more than stronger pollution regulations would have.  

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  • "Tone-deaf" needs explanation

    That line was used earlier today (?) or yesterday afternoon (?) on one of the political sites in reference to O’s casually saying something like “modest income level” or such about Gibbs’ $170K-plus salary in a time when the country has all kinds of unemployed $50K’ers.

    More and more I’m regretting the primary season mistakes made by Mrs Clinton last cycle.

    • my feeling is

      I regret the time and energy I spent supporting John Edwards, but I will never regret not supporting Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the primaries.

      • Clarifying:

        I did not support either Hillary or Obama and am not regretting that.

        I do believe tho that Clinton & Co. would have had much more skill at message managing out to We-The-People and working with the 2-House Legislative advantage of the first two years.

        That said, we remain a safe 3-votes household.

        • agree on all counts

          I can’t imagine not voting for Obama against the Republican nominee. I do think Hillary would have played her cards a little better with a Democratic-controlled Congress. The economic policy probably would have been the same Clinton 2.0 stuff Geithner/Summers have been doing, though.

  • I guess I don't understand

    Why wouldn’t Obama want to work with the business community?  They are sitting on two trillion dollars of capital, what do you do?  Daley is pro-China currency manipulation and pro-free trade, but so is Ron Kirk, but I didn’t hear much complaining about Kirk.

    The National Association of Manufacturers does lean to the right, but I gotta admit I tend to have more love for them than the EPA right now.…

    • not a fan of Ron Kirk

      but I would argue his position is less important than the president’s chief of staff, who will be guiding White House strategy for the next two years.

      The National Association of Manufacturers has repeatedly, consistently exaggerated the costs of doing anything good for the environment or public health. I am old enough to remember debates over amending the Clean Air Act in 1990. Industry said that was going to cripple the U.S. economy. But what happened during the 1990s?

      Decades of foot-dragging and lobbying against new mileage regulations almost killed the U.S. auto industry. I do not believe the National Association of Manufacturers serves the long-term interests of those it claims to represent.

  • I'm still happy and proud

    I supported Obama.  Obviously he has made mistakes, but so do all presidents.  He has been very much the kind of president I expected, working under some very challenging circumstances.

    If I lived in, say Scandinavia, I would expect to have more progressive political leadership.  But in a fundamentally center-right country like ours with a de-facto two-party system, the likes of B. Clinton and Obama are pretty much the best we liberals can hope for.  After all, the president is not only my president, but also everyone else’s.

    On this Daley thing, this may be tone deaf for the hard-core lefties.  The rest of the country probably doesn’t give a damn. Considering the role of a chief of staff, having someone with a business background running the WH show may be a real advantage.

    • right now no one knows who Daley is

      but wait for Republicans to launch a big messaging push on how Obama knows his health care reform was a bad idea, he even hired a chief of staff who said it was an overreach, etc.

      Daley is the kind of Clinton administration veteran who reminds me of why I opposed Gore in the 2000 primaries and was tempted not to vote for him in the general.

  • The phrase, "Let them eat cake..." comes to mind.

    Sorry, but I saw a bloodbath and profit taking in Chicago’s Woodlawn in ’01-’02.  

    In the aftermath of 9/11, with unemployment rocketing, Chicago tore down all public housing units east of the Dan Ryan. Wholesale evictions from privately and corporate owned brownstone three story walkups, entire square city blocks sitting vacant being converted to condos.

    25,000 people with no physical address being served by the DHS office in Woodlawn.

    6 Catholic parishes “mothballed”, boarded up and shuttered, depriving residents from vital services provided by the parishes.  At a time when the Chicago Archdiocese was running a multi-million dollar surplus of revenue, I was told these parishes would be reopened when the area became “economically viable” again.

    And the sorry bastards who profited from this base, sick predatory shit?

    In the White house.

    As a community activist working the Southside in the winter of ’01-’02, I cannot even begin to express the animosity I feel for those cold, heartless, piece of shit Daley brothers.

    Remember when Rev. Jesse Jackson was caught on a live feed talking about how maybe they should castrate Obama?  Does anybody remember that?

    Well, now you know who Barry’s been in bed with the whole time.

  • Valid point

    I think groups like the National Association of Manufacturers have won the narrative at this point in an era of Fox News and we have moved into an anti-regulatory mood.  

    • I would give SCOTUS some credit as well...

      “Citizen’s United” means all hands on deck to appease those who write the big checks.

      Money has always bought influence in Government. Always.

      Now it is simply clarified, codified, and unlimited in scope.  

  • musical chairs

    Bill Daley from Wall Street bank to the WH to replace Rahm.

    Rahm from WH to Chicago to replace Bill’s brother Richard.

    Brother Richard from Chicago to a Wall Street bank?

    It’s musical chairs for the ruling class (one chair still open in the above game.)  

    Blog posts and outraged comments for the hoi polloi.