Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Federal Reserve Chairman of the Bush administration

This explains quite a bit.

The picture of Greenspan scouring the Bush administration for details on global developments fits with his public image as a man with a voracious appetite for economic information. He is well known for immersing himself in obscure economic measures and dispatching Fed staff to canvass businesses about their plans.

But Greenspan's methods clearly changed after Bush took office. The Fed records show that Greenspan has called on the White House Council of Economic Advisers about as often during Bush's years as he did in the four years of President Clinton's second term. However the number of appointments with other White House officials jumped sharply with the new administration, from an average of three per year from 1996 through 2000, to 44 per year in 2001 through 2003. The chairman has already made 12 such visits in the first three months of this year, the latest data available.

The chairman has met with Vice President Cheney at least 17 times since early January 2001; Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, 11 times; Rice, 12 times; Card, six times; Powell, once; Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, twice; and Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, once, according to the Fed's copies of Greenspan's schedule.

Greenspan had at least four official appointments with Cheney and one with Rumsfeld before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to the Fed records.

Many economists have wondered why Greenspan, early in the first year of the Bush administration, would betray eight years of devotion to fiscal responsibility to suddenly embrace Bush's massive tax cuts. And then, after he had suggested it might be a good idea to tie those original cuts to the effect on the deficit, he turns around a few years later and supports -- in the face of a huge, growing deficit -- making those tax cuts permanent.

It's certainly a relief that the mystery has been cleared up.


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