Obama Plays The Roosevelt Game

The Obama team is taking a decidedly Rooseveltian approach to TARP and thereby the entire issue of the economic crisis. That’s not necessarily bad politics but it does waste some time.

An article in the WSJ indicates that there is some frustration on the part of the Bush Treasury team at the lack of feedback they get from the incoming Obama Treasury team. There is apparently frequent contact on the issues but little feedback from the Obama group on specifics.

Treasury officials have grown frustrated with the Obama transition team’s unwillingness to engage in specifics. Mr. Paulson has to consult with the Obama team on any big moves, in particular on plans for how the next $350 billion should be used. While Treasury has been in frequent contact with the Obama team, there is uncertainty about what it wants to do with that next batch of money. Many within Treasury believe the next administration is trying to keep its distance in an effort not to be painted as endorsing any of the Bush administration’s plans.

Mr. Obama also hasn’t discussed one of his hot-button issues — foreclosure-mitigation efforts — with the Paulson team. While Mr. Obama has talked about helping homeowners, his aides haven’t presented Treasury with any type of plan they would like to see implemented.

Roosevelt famously declined to engage until he was inaugurated despite entreaties from the Hoover administration. Politically, there is little advantage in doing so. Obama would seem to favor the same approach. It’s hard to fault him but at the same time there are more than a few small matters to deal with.

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