President Obama will receive high marks in history for his bold command decisions to order the missions that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, prevented an imminent mass murder at Benghazi and helped liberate Libya from a murderous dictatorship.
The president receives great credit from voters for these actions because our people hunger for leadership, conviction and action. With the economy mired in crisis, the Congress mired in gridlock and public confidence shattered toward Washington and Wall Street, the president can make a bold decision that would inspire workers, consumers, investors, business leaders and voters:
Obama can name New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to be the next Treasury secretary, succeeding Timothy Geithner, who has expressed interest in returning to private life and spending more time with his family.
Bloomberg as Treasury secretary would be perfectly suited to our historical moment of an epic crisis of confidence in our financial and political institutions.
Bloomberg has spent a lifetime as a prodigious job creator, business builder and five-star manager in the private and public sectors. He is a self-made billionaire who made his money the American way. The rising tide of Bloomberg’s wealth lifted the boats of employees, investors, customers and communities around him.
Naming Bloomberg Treasury secretary would be a bold move by Obama to seek a post-partisan truce against gridlock in Washington and to escalate an urgent bid to create jobs, revitalize housing and revive the economy.
Bloomberg is America’s most influential political independent. He is widely respected by serious political leaders of both parties, business leaders of great stature and voters who yearn for leaders to rise above the lesser instincts that dominate and deform our politics today. Naming Bloomberg to Treasury would give the president leverage and credibility with Congress and create a jolt of confidence from voters, consumers and business.
There is an equally powerful prospect that would result from naming Bloomberg to Treasury at an unprecedented moment in financial history. Between $3 trillion and $4 trillion is being hoarded by major conglomerates that are awash with cash but refuse to spend and large financial institutions that are awash with cash but refuse to lend.
Bloomberg would be unique as Treasury secretary. He is a CEO with a lifetime of knowledge, friendships, credibility, clout, experience, mutual respect and earned trust with the CEO “deciders” who can unleash the cash hoard to create the next era of American prosperity.
Bloomberg understands business building. He is an expert at corporate and government finance. He appreciates every aspect of the calculus of risk and reward that governs corporate executive decisions. He has been undeniably brilliant and successful himself in making the decisions that have built his own business and made him the kind of self-made billionaire that every American, and every CEO, can admire and respect.
Michael Bloomberg is a master of the game that matters at this financial and economic moment in history. He has the CEO-to-CEO relationships that can make things happen. He has the invaluable CEO experience to know how they can happen.
What I suggest would be a bold and dramatic move. But America and Europe have big economic problems that require new thinking, bold action, creative strategy and dramatic moves by presidents.
Obama once expressed his admiration for Lincoln’s “Cabinet of rivals.” One of the president’s most spectacular and successful moves was choosing his secretary of State. Hillary Rodham Clinton is a public figure of overpowering presence and talent who has served the president loyally, served the nation brilliantly and done great credit to the president for his judgment in choosing her.
If Obama were to name Michael Bloomberg Treasury secretary and bring the same boldness to economic policy with Bloomberg that he brought to foreign policy with Clinton, he would generate newfound excitement about his presidency and newfound confidence in our economy.
Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at<i>firstname.lastname@example.org</i>.