Paul Volcker’s New Assignment – Tax Collector

dollarIs This What Volcker Had In Mind?

Paul Volcker’s unexpected endorsement of Mr Obama for President last year gave the Obama campaign a huge boost of economic credibility.  Mr Volcker’s endorsement calmed the fears of many economic conservatives who were skeptical about the Obama economic agenda.

Lawrence Kudlow, a former Reagan economic advisor, viewed the surprise endorsement as a signal that a future Obama administration would be more fiscally conservative than previously believed.

This is an unbelievable story. Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker — Mr. Hard Money, anti-deficit, sound financial himself — has endorsed Senator Obama for President.

This is a big deal.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I was a Volcker speechwriter at the New York Fed. He’s a great American. He’s a classic conservative. He’s a man of fiscal and monetary rectitude. While he was originally appointed Fed Chair by Jimmy Carter, Volcker ultimately teamed up with Ronald Reagan to put the kibosh on runaway inflation. He would not have made this endorsement on a whim.

Is Paul Volcker the new Robert Rubin? Is it possible that Mr. Volcker is somehow tutoring Obama? Is it possible that Obama is more financially conservative than originally believed?

In his endorsement of Mr Obama, Mr Volcker seemed to believe that he would be involved in a high level position to help solve the financial problems facing the United States.

Paul Volcker, February 2008

However, it is not the current turmoil in markets or the economic uncertainties that have impelled my decision. Rather, it is the breadth and depth of challenges that face our nation at home and abroad. Those challenges demand a new leadership and a fresh approach.

Mr. Obama’s remarks at a press conference in November 2008 also seemed to suggest that Mr. Volcker would have a pivotal role in engineering a turnaround of the American economy.

November 26, 2008 – Obama Press Conference

Today, I’m pleased to announce the formation of a new institution to help our economic team accomplish these goals: the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

The Board will be composed of distinguished individuals from diverse backgrounds outside of government —from business, labor, academia and other areas— who will bring to bear their wisdom and expertise on the formulation, implementation and evaluation of my Administration’s economic recovery plan.

I’m pleased to announce that this Board will be chaired by one of the world’s foremost economic policy experts, a former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and one of my most trusted advisors, Paul Volcker.

Paul has been by my side throughout this campaign, providing a deep understanding of financial markets, extensive experience managing economic crises, and keen insight into the global nature of this particular crisis. Paul has served under both Republicans and Democrats and is held in the highest esteem for his sound and independent judgment. He has a long and distinguished record of service to our nation, and I am pleased that he has answered the call to serve once again.

World’s Foremost Economic Policy Expert Appointed To New Position – Chasing Tax Deadbeats

Today, Mr Volcker can add to illustrious resume the position of leading a task force to chase tax deadbeats.  This is probably not the role that Mr Volcker envisioned as Chairman of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Volcker Panel To Study Tax Reform

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A panel led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker will study options for U.S. tax reform

Peter Orszag, director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, said the panel would study tax simplification, tackling tax evasion, and reducing “corporate welfare.”

He said the board would look at streamlining U.S. tax credits and being more aggressive at bringing in some $300 billion in annual uncollected tax revenues.

Time To Move On

Mr Volcker’s acknowledged expertise is being wasted in a largely irrelevant and undignified position, given the dimensions of the financial problems confronting the United States.

Some advice Mr Volcker – it seems that you have served your purpose and will not have a real role in any major policy decisions.  Your distinguished background, expertise and wisdom are being wasted in your presently assigned position.  Answering your country’s call to service was admirable, but you need to watch what they do, not what they say.

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