Is Barack Obama’s diss of the protectionists with the appointment of his new Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag:
Like other young economists who are in line for economic advisory jobs in the Obama administration, Mr. Orszag (who turns 40 in December) is a protégé of Robert E. Rubin, the former treasury secretary. The prominence of such “Rubinesque” centrists is vexing to liberals and union leaders in the Democratic Party, who favor some trade protectionism and more domestic spending and oppose the centrists’ emphasis on free trade and fiscal responsibility.
Credit where it is due and kudos to the President-elect for having named a free trader as Director of the OMB. Of course, Orszag will likely not have that much influence over trade policy but any appointment that “vexes” protectionists and proponents of wild and irresponsible spending cannot be all bad. I will, of course, wait to see who the President-elect names for the Treasury Department and for the position of United States Trade Representative; the President-elect’s statements during the campaign that he wants to renegotiate NAFTA and his opposition to pending free trade agreements like the one between the United States and Colombia remains quite worrisome.