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>If Barack Obama gets elected President, the first thing he should do is hire Doug Holtz-Eakin to be his budget director. A highly-respected non-partisan budget wonk, who is leaning Obama’s way in the election, threw out this seemingly crazy idea at lunch the other day. And the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.
Why would Obama want to hire John McCain’s chief policy advisor to run his OMB, perhaps the most critical policy shop in the Administration?
To start, Obama often talks about a post-partisan Presidency. This would be a way for him to show he means it.
Second, Holtz-Eakin would enjoy fiscal credibility in the financial markets. The bond vigilantes have not cared about deficits for years, but they tend to get interested when Democrats run the government. Just ask Bill Clinton. Today, they see Obama as little more than a big-government liberal with a good speech. This might show them he is more complex than that.
Most important, though, Holtz Eakin would help lower the stratospheric expectations the left has of Obama. The candidate has already made trillions of dollars in promises he cannot possibly keep, and liberals will demand hundreds of billions more if he and a Democratic Congress are swept into office in November. Of course, McCain has his own problems with super-sized promises, but that’s for another day.
How can Obama lower these expectations? He needs a Dr. No—someone who can bring some reality into the political debate. And who better than Holtz-Eakin, who even many liberals like and respect? They’d detest Obama’s decision to pick him, but someone has to play the heavy.
I don’t know if Holz-Eakin would take the budget job in a McCain Administration, much less in Obama’s. And I can’t imagine he’d get the offer. Besides, with the election still nearly 12 weeks away, the whole thing is more than a bit premature. Still, it is an idea worth musing about in the heat of a Washington August day. Just a thought.
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