I have long believed that presidential challengers would help themselves by announcing at least some of their top appointments before the election. After all, we already know the incumbent's appointees. I think it would help many voters make up their minds and swing a few if they had a better idea of how a candidate's actions would match his words.
In Europe, where parliamentary systems predominate, this sort of thing is taken for granted. Opposition parties always have "shadow cabinets," where designated people target particular departments for special attention. They are assumed to be given those portfolios should their party gain a majority, and often are.
Not only does this give voters much greater knowledge of what to expect should the opposition gain control, it gives valuable experience and training to those in line to become ministers in a new government. And shadow cabinets make it easier to create coalitions and help assuage the fears of those wary of changing horses in the middle of a stream.
With this in mind, I have taken it upon myself to suggest some possible appointees for key economic posts in a John Kerry administration. This is mostly a forecast based on research and some informal polling, but also includes a bit of wishful thinking on my part.
Department of State: I see Felix Rohatyn, the New York banker, as an excellent choice for this position. He was ambassador to France during the Clinton administration and long has been one of the Democratic Party's "wise men." Alternatively, I see Richard Holbrooke, U.N. ambassador under Clinton, or Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee. (Biden could also be U.N. ambassador.)
Department of the Treasury: Roger Altman, another New York banker, seems the odds-on favorite for this position. He was deputy secretary under Clinton, wants the job badly, and has paid his dues to the Democratic Party and Sen. Kerry. Rohatyn might also be considered for Treasury, as well.
Office of Management and Budget: Everyone mentions John Spratt, the congressman from South Carolina and ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. He is widely respected on both sides of the aisle.
National Economic Council: Steve Rattner, yet another New York banker, fits the mould of Bob Rubin and Stephen Friedman, who have previously headed this important White House office. A former New York Times reporter, he has long been active in Democratic circles.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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