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Kuttner: Obama’s Hesitation to Use the “N” Word

Robert Kuttner—economist, co-founder of The American Prospect, and author of Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency—has managed to unearth some secret government memos between President Obama and his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel. However, since they just fell into his hands, he can’t really verify their authenticity. This tongue-in-cheek account of the inner workings of the White House (from an outsider’s perspective) presents a conversation that probably isn’t happening, but definitely should be. Robert Rubin protegés Larry Summers and Tim Geithner have shown that they have too much faith in free markets and are hesitant to nationalize the banks, even though more and more voices from both sides of the aisle are piping up in favor of “the dreaded n-word.” In this article from the Huffington Post, Robert Kuttner lays out a smart, commonsense approach to solving the bank crisis and putting the brakes on the Recession.
From: BHO To: Rahm Emanuel Subject: The Banks Extremely Sensitive Rahm, I’m concerned that I’m getting only one viewpoint on how to solve the banking crisis, from Larry and Tim. A kind of echo-chamber effect sets in where they talk mainly to Wall Street and to each other, and different views are not heard. Larry is a very effective gatekeeper. They both seem convinced that bailing out outfits like AIG and Citigroup, using even more money both from Treasury and the Fed, is the only way to go. And nobody inside the administration is really challenging them on the economics. The problem is that neither the financial markets nor public opinion is buying it. My recovery package can’t work if the banks keep dragging down the economy, and time is not on our side. We’re burning through money that will be very difficult to get Congress to replenish if we blow it this time. We’ve had some good strategy conversations about the politics. Limiting executive pay helps. So do these trips outside Washington where we can identify with ordinary people. But the Republicans are eating our lunch on the A.I.G. bailout, and Lou Dobbs is making us look like allies of the people who caused the crisis. The press is full of stories about people from Countrywide and the hedge funds profiting a second time, as purchasers of underwater bonds. We can survive all that–if Larry and Tim’s plan actually works. But I’m beginning to wonder. Could you set up some conversations with some well informed people who have a different view? What’s your advice on how to handle Larry and Tim? We can’t very well go behind their backs. Larry is keeping a low profile, and letting Tim take all the heat even though Larry totally shares the approach. Tim is all alone. He doesn’t have a senior sub-cabinet official confirmed yet to help him. A chorus is building calling for his head. Do we want to set up some very discreet one-on-one conversations with critics, or bring Larry and Tim in, too? Also, Rubin is constantly on the phone to everyone. His fingerprints are all over this mess, but people still take him seriously. Is he looking out for the system, or for Citi and Goldman? I’m beginning to have buyer’s remorse that we hired so many of his protégés. BHO
Read the whole article here.


Author Petra Kuenkel: The Art of Leading Collectively

More than ever before, there is a focus on new, collective forms of leadership—and an urgency to get collective change processes underway, all over the world. What’s behind the recent push to move collective leadership to the fore? Whether we find ourselves in societal or organizational change, it requires collective energy and drive to bring […] Read More

10 Books to Curl Up With This Winter

William Wordsworth was right when he said, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Nevertheless, the cold, dark days of winter can still get the best of even Nature’s most tenderhearted admirer. What’s one to do? We here at Chelsea Green have concocted the perfect cabin fever remedy with our suggested winter reading […] Read More

Top 8 Chelsea Green Books the Self-Styled Oregon Militia Should Read

The ongoing armed militia occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is showing no signs of ending — so, rather than send them snacks, or sex toys, we had an idea: Send them a book! Better yet, send them several Chelsea Green books. Don’t worry, we’ve picked five key titles that we think […] Read More

Author David Stroh: First Steps to Becoming a Systems Thinker

Systems thinking is often seen as something relegated to scientific and business analysis – economics, resource depletion, and climate. However, Systems Thinking for Social Change focuses on how to use systems thinking to make breakthrough progress on intransigent social problems. We asked author David Stroh how this approach can make an impact, and how readers […] Read More

Use Systems Thinking to Make Lasting Social Change

What can be done when our best intentions create unintended problems—such as temporary shelters increasing homelessness or food aid accelerating starvation?After decades of helping change-makers in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors address tough social problems, systems-thinking expert David Stroh shares the pioneering framework that both demystifies systems thinking and shows how it can lead […] Read More
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