President Obama appoints new chief of staff

John Dimsdale Jan 10, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Now to the White House, where the President’s budget director Jack Lew is taking over as chief of staff. He’s replacing Bill Daley, who spent just a year on the job. Now, when Daley was brought on board, he was touted as someone who
could help improve a frosty relationship between the White House and Wall Street. So what now?

For that story, we’re joined live by our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale. Good morning, John.

John Dimsdale: Hi Jeremy.

Hobson: So does this mean the president’s relationship with the business community is all better?

Dimsdale: Hardly. You know, Dale was a former banker, and he was Commerce Secretary for Bill Clinton. But he wasn’t able to use those contacts to improve relations with businesses much. He had some limited successes; he helped negotiate important trade deals, and last year’s payroll tax cut. But on the big issues, he was just unable to bridge the sharp partisanship that dominates Washington.

Hobson: Well, what about his replacement, Jack Lew?

Dimsdale: His appointment means much less of an emphasis on business relationships. He’s a mild-mannered budget technician — more of a pragmatic staffer. He’s not a political player.

For long-time Washington observers like Norm Ornstein at the American Enterprise Institute, Lew’s expertise is going to be helpful for negotiating next year’s budget and the big spending cuts that will have to approved to bring down the deficit.

Norm Ornstein: You couldn’t be better served under those circumstances having a chief of staff who’s intimately familiar with budgets and choices and also has long-standing working relationships with all the congressional figures that matter in these areas on both sides of the aisle.

In fact, during some of the hot negotiating last summer, the House Republican majority leader Eric Cantor actually had some nice things to say about Jack Lew. So who know, maybe change is possible.

Hobson: Marketplace’s John Dimsdale in Washington. Thanks John.

Dimsdale:You’re welcome.

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