Obama Taps Big-Biz Honcho For Chief of Staff

President Barack Obama, whose ties with Wall Street are described as strained by most in media, today announced the appointment of William Daley, the top executive at JP Morgan Chase, as his chief of staff. The New York Times describes Daley this way:

He is paid as much as $5 million a year and supervises the Washington lobbying efforts for the nation’s second-largest bank. William M. Daley also serves on the board of directors at Boeing, the giant defense contractor, and Abbott Laboratories, the global drug company, which has billions of dollars at stake in the overhaul of the health care system.

Progressive leaders are not amused. Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, issued this statement:

This was a real mistake by the White House. Bill Daley consistently urges the Democratic Party to pursue a corporate agenda that alienates both Independent and Democratic voters. If President Obama listens to that kind of political advice from Bill Daley, Democrats will suffer a disastrous 2012.

At MoveOn.org, Executive Director Justin Ruben echoed that sentiment:

With Wall Street reporting record profits while middle class Americans continue to struggle in a deep recession, the announcement that William Daley, who has close ties to the big banks and big business, will now lead the White House staff is troubling and sends the wrong message to the American people.
Americans are looking to the White House for economic plans that will create jobs and rein in Wall Street's excesses, and it's up to Daley to prove that he's not carrying water in the White House for the big banks that took our economy over the cliff. As the President continues to reshuffle his staff, particularly his economic team, it is now more important than ever that he focuses on rebuilding a middle class and developing policies that create more jobs on Main Street, not on Wall Street.

And at the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, there's concern about potential conflicts. From the Times:

“As the chief of staff, he is the gatekeeper, and that means real power in Washington,” said Ellen S. Miller, co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation, which celebrated the move by Mr. Obama early in his presidency to release detailed logs of White House visitors and impose restrictions on hiring lobbyists as aides. “Just about any way you look at it, it creates a huge potential for a conflict of interest.”

But if Obama's aim was to calm Wall Street and the Big Biz community, it looks as though he's done it: Over at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, they're cheering, according to the Times:

“This is a strong appointment,” said Thomas J. Donohue, the president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, which has been a harsh critic of the Obama administration and provided financial support that helped Republicans take control of the House. “Bill Daley is a man of stature and extraordinary experience in government, business, trade negotiations and global affairs.”

Daley's Windy City roots likely held some appeal for the White House; he's the brother of long-time Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. One contingent about which Obama seems unconcerned? The Tea Party crowd, who have long complained of Obama's ties to the Chicago Democratic machine.

AlterNet / By Adele M. Stan

Posted at January 6, 2011, 10:32am

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