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Bouncing the Rubble: Biden and Rubin Star at Hamilton Project Relaunch

Joe Biden at the Hamilton Project, Brookings InstituteRemember the Hamilton Project?

A couple of weeks ago Bill Moyers and Simon Johnston looked ahead to this week’s “relaunch”:

Simon Johnson: “But Bill, it goes even further and deeper than that. Robert Rubin was Secretary of the Treasury in the 1990s. He oversaw the deregulation. He fought hard against Brooksley Born, the only regulator in living memory who tried to prevent derivatives from getting out of control. He then went to Citigroup. He presided over this nonsense and this mess. He’s now and he was he’s clearly éminence grise of this administration. Mr. Geithner and Mr. Summers are his protégés. But that’s, that’s not all. Next week, the Hamilton Project, a project of the Brookings Institution founded by Mr. Rubin, will have a big public event. Probably Mr. Rubin’s most prominent Washington appearance since the crisis broke. The headline act at this event will be Vice President Joe Biden. Now, maybe Mr. Biden will be taking on the view of finance that we all should fear greatly. But I’m not so optimistic.”

But it turns out the Hamilton Project really hasn’t been doing much lately. Just ask the WaPo:

Ironically, once an administration more open to the group’s views arrived in January 2009, the Hamilton Project went dormant, as key staff members went to work in government.

Yep, huge irony here. Who could have anticipated?

Peter Orszag, the first director of the program, is now Obama’s budget director, Orszag’s successor at Hamilton, Jason Furman, is now a key White House aide, and Furman’s successor at Hamilton, Doug Elmendorf, is director of the Congressional Budget Office.

And little Timmy Geithner – protege of Richard Rubin, the Project’s co-founder – is Treasury Secretary. And the Project’s new director, Michael Greenstone? He’s the former chief economist for Obama’s White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Poor Hamilton Project. Left out in the cold all this time. How thoughtful of the WaPo to break out the Kleenex.

Never fear:

The project got a second wind this week, with a relaunch and a new director, and the reasonable expectation that this time around, the relationship to the White House will be much cozier. In fact, Hamilton could emerge as a key source of economic thinking for the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress.

Who knew the Hamilton Project suffers from separation anxiety? From the outside, looks like the only way the Project and Team Obama could be cozier is for the White House to wriggle up the Project’s backside. Further.

But in WaPo-land, when Biden showed up as the star pet at the Project’s relaunch, he was there to celebrate a two-fer. First – the Project’s long, painful exile from power is officially over. Second: Team Obama has a powerful new ally.

Vice President Biden spoke at the group’s relaunch Tuesday. Greenstone cited medical cost controls in the new health-care law and a budget that freezes discretionary spending as examples of the group’s ideas showing up in public policy.

If there’s a social program left standing in the moonscape Obama’s Hamilton Project masters inflicted on America, Greenstone and the Project are there to ensure Obama nukes it.

“It’s clear that we’re going to have to focus on providing proposals to help the recovery take hold,” Greenstone said. “That said, one thing Hamilton has always been focused on is a sustainable deficit position. And if anything, the circumstances that have been thrust upon the world” — giant deficits from the recession — “make that ever more timely.”

Shorter Greenspan: Now that Bob Rubin and the MOTU’s looted the Treasury – and Main Street – the next target is entitlements. We’re from the Hamilton Project, and we’re here to help. Ourselves.

If someone you care deeply about depends on Social Security – or will depend on Social Security – call them up today and tell them you love them. Because Team Obama has targeted Social Security…and your loved ones are just the MOTU’s version of collateral damage.

Deaths you can believe in, right?

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Kirk Murphy

Kirk Murphy

terrestrial obligate aerobe with endoskeleton (bony) and bilateral symmetry.

chordate, bipedal, warm-blooded, mammalian, placental (origin), opposable thumbs.

not (yet) extinct.

indigenous habitat: California Live Oak.

current habitat: Central California Coast (most northerly aspect).... 'northwest of the new world, east of the sea'

potential habitats: all potential habitats critically endangered (due to global climate change).

ailurophilic - hence allergic rhinitic.