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Obama’s new chief of staff opposed health reform and consumer protection agency

By Sahil Kapur
Friday, January 7, 2011 6:00 EDT
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William Daley, who was named White House chief of staff on Thursday, has expressed opposition to two of President Barack Obama’s major initiatives, which he will now be required to defend against Republicans seeking to derail them.

Daley, an executive at JPMorgan Chase and former US commerce secretary, last year claimed Obama and the Democratic Congress overreached in pursuit of health reform and wound up pushing the country too far to the left.

“They miscalculated on health care,” Daley told the New York Times. “The election of ’08 sent a message that after 30 years of center-right governing, we had moved to center left — not left.”

Daley also reportedly voiced opposition to the Wall Street reform legislation’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency tasked with clamping down on predatory lending and other risky banking practices.

On April 17, 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported: “But when White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called a top J.P. Morgan executive to ask for the bank’s support in creating a new consumer-protection agency, the executive–former Commerce Secretary William Daley–said no, according to people familiar with the conversation.”

Although Daley may simply have been expressing the views of his employer, rather than his own – he has not responded to requests to clarify – his remarks hint he could undermine White House defense of Obama accomplishments under attack by a reinvigorated Congressional GOP.

Republicans have already introduced measures to repeal health care and financial reform.

Announcing his choice Thursday, Obama touted Daley’s political experience and added: “I know Bill to be somebody who cares deeply about this country, believes in its promise, and considers no calling higher and more important than serving the American people.”

The move offers a glimpse into Obama’s likely governing style for the foreseeable future. With Republicans now in control of the House and a stronger presence in the Senate, the choice of Daley is the latest in a pattern of actions suggesting Obama will tilt rightward for the second half of his first term.

The pick, while heralded by business community, has further irritated liberals, who already view Obama as too centrist and corporate-friendly.

Washington Post writer Ezra Klein argued that “if Daley had had his way over the past two years, there would be less for Obama to be proud of.” Firedoglake’s Jon Walker said the choice of a top banker was “terrible” optics because may voters already “blame their current economic hardship on Wall Street bankers.”

Daley is also a board member of the centrist think tank “Third Way,” a former adviser to the Clinton White House, the chief architect of NAFTA, and former chairman of Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign. He is the brother of Chicago mayor Richard Daley, and a close friend of top Obama confidants Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod.

 
 
 
 
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