The Passing of a Former Treasury Secretary

Brad DeLong pays tribute to the late Lloyd Bentsen as does David Rosenbaum. While it was not the purpose of his post, Daniel Drezner pays a very nice tribute to Bill Clinton’s first Treasury Secretary:

The White House seems to view the Treasury Secretary as a salesman’s job, as opposed to a position where that requires any requisite policy knowledge, expertise, or anything of that nature … The truly scary thing about that last paragraph is the White House’s belief that one can find a Treasury Secretary who would be a salesman while still commanding respect in the markets. To my knowledge, the only value-added John Snow has brought to the Treasury position has been his willingness to be the Bush administration’s salesman – and I’m pretty sure the markets don’t respect him all that much.

Bentsen was influential in getting Bush41 to push for the 1990 tax increase and helping Clinton assure passage of the 1993 tax increase. The markets certainly respected Secretary Bentsen. Of course, Bush43 does not want to admit that his fiscal policy is piling up deferred tax liabilities – so it’s unlikely that the White House could convince someone like Lloyd Bentsen to serve as Treasury Secretary unless the White House changed course over fiscal policy.