On the campaign trail, the youthful, inexperienced Obama sought gravitas behind a fake presidential seal.
David Broder expressed concern in yesterday’s column that the understaffed Obama Administration is “running on empty.” Broder noted (emphasis mine):
In its first six weeks in office, the administration has launched hugely expensive and ambitious programs, not only to spur employment and arrest a sickening slide in stocks, mortgages and profits, but to overhaul such complex and vital services as health care, education, and energy production and conservation.
It has done this with a mere corporal's guard of key appointees in place. The White House itself is rather fully staffed, but the departments and agencies, where broad policies must be converted into real operations, have numerous openings. Decisions are being made by career bureaucrats, Bush administration carryovers -- or not at all.
In further evidence of our new president’s lack of experience, Schmidt and Christie at Bloomberg report today on the understaffed condition of the Treasury Department - responsible for the success of the financial rescue plan (emphasis mine):
Former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission member Annette Nazareth took herself out of the running after concern about public scrutiny over her SEC work and frustration at the length of the selection process, according to people familiar with the matter. International Monetary Fund official Caroline Atkinson pulled out of consideration for the Treasury’s top international job, people briefed on the decision said.
The setbacks leave the Treasury chief without any Senate- confirmed senior staff just as he tries to build confidence in his plan to cleanse banks’ balance sheets and jumpstart the market for securities backed by loans. Nazareth’s decision may make it even harder to lure skilled candidates, highlighting the challenge of the nomination process, analysts said.
“The vacuum at the upper levels of the department could hardly have come at a worse time,” said Louis Crandall, chief economist at Jersey City, New Jersey-based Wrightson ICAP LLC. The disarray comes even though “it was clear the moment” the bank-rescue fund “legislation was passed in October that getting the Treasury Department staffed quickly would have to be the top domestic priority for any incoming administration,” he said.
Schmidt and Christie point out that the Treasury Department in previous administrations remained understaffed for months; however, they were not facing a global financial meltdown.
The Bloomberg article continues:
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker late last month told a congressional committee that the lack of top appointees at the Treasury was “shameful” given the crisis. Bank executives are also upset over their lack of access to the department as it crafts policies that will affect their industry for decades.