Erskine Bowles told Maria Bartiromo last night that he would not serve as the nation’s next Treasury Secretary. This apparently happened off-air, but it has been confirmed in local papers in North Carolina, Bowles’ home state:
Bowles reportedly confirmed to host Maria Bartiromo off-air that he would not serve as the next Treasury secretary, according to CNBC political reporter Eamon Javers.
Fox Business reporter Charlie Gasparino reported that Bowles would like to be given a seat at the negotiating table about the upcoming “fiscal cliff,” or the $600 billion mix of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to go into effect the first of the year.
That’s hilarious, Bowles thinks that “random private citizen” should get to sit in on the deficit reduction talks. I actually agree, but there’s no reason it should be him above any of our other 300 million citizens.
The Treasury Secretary speculation always appeared to stem from the fact that Erskine Bowles was the name of a Democrat that people in Washington knew. He didn’t really have anything to recommend him to the position. He lost several political campaigns in North Carolina, he was White House chief of staff under Clinton for about a minute, he served in a no-show job with Morgan Stanley that did not afford him anything in the way of technical knowledge about the markets, and he co-chaired a deficit commission that couldn’t get a final package to a vote and submitted its recommendations with a giant magic asterisk that just assumed health care costs would stay at a certain level. In other words, the entire Bowles-Simpson plan rests on the notion that health care costs, i.e. the entire deficit problem, will just take care of themselves.
I guess that without a co-chair mechanism so Bowles could serve with Alan Simpson again, he just didn’t want the job. Anyway, Tim Geithner will probably stay in place until any deal gets struck, so that must have taken away from the allure for Bowles.
As for who will actually replace Geithner, current chief of staff Jack Lew has the inside track. BlackRock Chairman Larry Fink, Evercore Partners Founder Roger Altman, Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin and Undersecretary Lael Brainard have also been mentioned.