Good morning. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is changing course on the bailout. Forget the federal government buying bad mortgage assets from financial institutions (though it will continue to help banks in other ways). Yesterday Paulson announced a shift of focus to troubled consumers, including (via the WSJ) plans to "increase the availability of student loans, auto loans and credit cards. He said he's also examining ways to help prevent foreclosures." Consumer access to credit has evaporated with the crisis, and if people can't get loans to pay for expensive stuff — houses, cars, home renovations, Christmas presents, college tuition, etc. — it's very hard for the economy to move forward.
Far from Wall Street (or Washington), Sarah Palin addresses her fellow Republican Govs at their meeting in Miami today. What can she tell us that we haven't already gleaned from her parade of interviews this week? Our Greg Allen is on the scene with pricked ears.
In transition news, "Democratic insiders" are rampantly leaking to reporters that Ron Klain has accepted the the job of chief-of-staff to VP-elect Joe Biden. Klain is a Clinton administration veteran and onetime senior aide to VP Al Gore (and key figure in the Gore campaign's recount effort back in 2000...Kevin Spacey played him in the movie). Politico's Mike Allen writes:
The appointment enhances the continuity between the two Democratic administrations. Veterans of the Clinton-Gore White House have been given top jobs in the Obama-Biden transition.
(Though, we hasten to note, almost every ambitious, important Democrat whose career dates back to the 90s has some kind of ties to the Clinton administration...that's where the action was for eight years.)
In any event, as Marc Ambinder points out...it's not the change-iest choice. And neither was Rahm Emanuel. Or, heck, Joe Biden himself. Not to mention most of Obama's top-level advisers during the campaign. But, Ambinder writes, the personnel is not the point:
It's more evidence that Obama's modus operandi is pragmatism — (radical empiricism, some call it). The secret is that Obama intends use very pragmatic, temperamentally conservative means to achieve radical — not in the Bill Ayers sense but in the huge, big, transformative sense — changes in how Washington works and how it relates to Americans.
And finally, looking for a job in the new administration? Check out the Plum Book, so called for the color of its cover. The book, published every four years since Eisenhower, details the federal government jobs that are expected to change hands with the new administration (ranging from terrorism-related gigs at Treasury to three vacancies on the Marine Mammal Commission). But don't get too excited unless you know a guy who knows a guy...these positions will be doled out to folks with political connections. The Washington Post explains:
About one-third of the jobs are strictly presidential appointments — that is, patronage positions that will go largely to Democrats who know how to network.
"This isn't an open job search," said Paul C. Light, an expert in federal government who teaches at New York University. "If you don't have someone who's going to take your r??sum?? in on your behalf, don't sell your house. Everyone thumbs through this and likes to imagine themselves in these jobs. But it's really more like the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue — a lot of people pick it up and say, 'Oh, wouldn't it be nice to have that tiara?' "
You can grab your own copy at the the Government Bookstore on North Capitol St. or peruse the shiny headwear in this electronic version.
And if you do have the connections to be considered for a top post (cabinet-level &c.)...the New York Times says you'd better be prepared to hand over your screen names, Facebook identity, traffic ticket history (above $50), and every resume you've used in the past 10 years. It's a vet-a-pallooza! Here's the full questionnaire, via the NYT.