In my last piece, I explained the White House’s economic policy process as directed by the National Economic Council (NEC). The NEC process is a critical determinant of national policies, and one worthy of greater public appreciation. A new book from Steven Rattner has emerged, purporting to shed light on this process as it related to the auto industry bailout. The “tell-all” nature of published excerpts from the book is exactly the wrong way to go about this.
Rattner’s accounts of the sometimes-heated deliberations among President Obama’s advisors are entertaining and potentially informative for those of us on the outside looking in. That said, they are profoundly damaging to the president’s access to unvarnished counsel, and are therefore bad for everyone affected by the quality of the president’s decision-making.
To understand why merely requires that one envision a meeting between the president and his senior advisors, at which consequential economic policy decisions are to be discussed. Now imagine that a camera is placed in the room, and the participants are told that their conversation will be aired at some unspecified future date. The inhibiting effect of this upon candid, uncensored discourse is obvious.