This Friday’s presidential debate is about foreign policy, but it is almost certain that economic policy will also be discussed. Were I moderator Jim Lehrer, I’d ask the following question first:
Who would be three of your top choices for Treasury Secretary?
Hank Paulson fought hard for his plan today, and passage of anything similar would arguably make him the nation’s most consequential financial figure. More an economic czar than a Treasury secretary. He might be around to spend the $700 billion, but it’s unlikely that he’d be able to unload much of it before the next administration takes hold. That job will fall to someone else, and his/her identity will arguablybe more important than raising or cutting taxes for certain brackets.
So Senators, who do you want? Obama suggested on 60 Minutes that he might be open to keeping Paulson on board, but wasn’t pressed for why. McCain, to my knowledge, has not commented on it (although he did suggest Andrew Cuomo should replace Chris Cox as SEC chair). I know picking cabinet candidates typically comes post-election, but this is an extraordinary post in an extraordinary time. It’s a question that should be asked and answered now, not later.