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Obama taps USC VP Helen Garrett for his troubled Treasury Dept.

The White House announced this afternoon that President Obama is nominating Helen Elizabeth Garrett as assistant secretary of Treasury for tax policy.

Garrett is currently vice president for academic planning and the budget at the University of Southern California, where she oversees the university's academic and budget priorities.

She's one of three senior Treasury Department appointments announced today as Obama and embattled Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner seek to fill numerous remaining posts there amid a barrage of ongoing controversies stemming from the recession, the Wall Street bailouts, the bizarre corporate bonuses and, frankly, Geithner's sometimes inarticulate handling of his public presentations. (Scroll down for a video of recent Geithner testimony to Congress on financial regulatory reform.)

Reports persist in Washington that numerous financial experts from New York have declined interest in Obama Treasury jobs given the surrounding controversies, public examination, frequent excoriations and the severe financial sacrifices involved in government service. Several commentators this week suggested the new Obama administration tap into academia, which doesn't pay the accustomed Wall Street salaries but does have funny hats and great gowns.

Geithner himself overcame serious initial public relations difficulties when it was revealed that the.... who would head the Treasury Department, including the Internal Revenue Service, owed more than $20,000 in back federal taxes, precisely the delicate area that Garrett will now oversee for him on the department level.

According to her White House bio, Garrett also is co-director of the USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics and serves on the board of the Initiative and Referendum Institute at USC.

Four years ago President George W. Bush appointed her to a nine-member bipartisan advisory panel on federal tax reform, which issued its report in November 2005. She also serves as chair of the finance committee of the national governing board of Common Cause.

Garrett graduated from the University of Oklahoma and University of Virginia Law School, and later clerked on the Supreme Court for Justice Thurgood Marshall and on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Her political experience includes legal counsel and legislative assistant for tax, budget and welfare reform issues for U.S. Sen. David L. Boren, an Oklahoma Democrat and ex-governor. Before joining USC Law in 2003, she was a professor at the University of Chicago's law school and also served as deputy dean for academic affairs.

She's been a visiting professor at the president's alma mater, Harvard Law School, the University of Virginia Law School, Central European University in Budapest and the Interdisciplinary Center Law School in Israel. Her recent academic articles have analyzed courts and political parties, campaign finance reform laws, various congressional procedures, judicial review of regulatory statutes and the initiative process.

The other two Treasury appointments announced today were another professor, Michael S. Barr, to become assistant secretary for financial institutions, and George W. Madison to become the department's general counsel. Madison is former vice president and executive counsel for TIAA-CREF and Barr is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and Brookings Institution.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Comments () | Archives (8)

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Amateur hour at the White House seems to have no end. With 65% of registered voters being Dem's one wonders at the difficulty of getting the best to work for the Obama Administration. Perhaps they too see the empty suit that Geithner is and can't stand working for him or the other One.

Reexamining The New Deal.
With calls for a new New Deal by the Obama Administration we need to look carefully before we try out policies that did not work the first time around.
Some people, but not most economists & historians, seem to think that the New Deal ended the Depression. First, one must remember that after the Stock Market Crash in 1929 President Hoover increased federal spending by more than 50% and put pressure on companies to keep wages fixed. At the same time, he was building protectionist trade tariffs he increased our top income tax rate from 25% to 63%, which sounds eerily familiar. Secondly, in 1933 FDR became president, with unemployment at 17.2% and pursued the New Deal, raising federal spending, implementing income taxes with extremely high progressive tax brackets, encouraged strong unions and higher wages than lagging productivity justified, on the theory that workers' spending would be simulative. Instead, corporate profits — prerequisites for job-creating investments — were excessively drained into labor expenses that left many workers priced out of the market. Thirdly, In 1937, 5 years into the new deal and 8 years after the stock market collapse the biggest industrial collapse occurred in 1937!.

Unemployment in America only declined when America began selling materials to nations engaged in a war America would soon join.

Obama proposes similar governmental rescue plans for our economy and the middle class. His proposals include a tax credit for businesses "for each new employee they hire" in America over the next two years. The assumption is that businesses will create jobs that would not have been created without the subsidy. If so, the subsidy will flood the economy with inefficiencies — labor costs not justified by value added. In addition, as Hoover and FDR did, he will increase taxes, spending and raise protectionist trade tariffs, all programs that are strongly argued against by historians with economic backgrounds and by pure economists.

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it and it appears Obama is about to do just that.

Gee, Pom-Pom Girl, you're obviously right. We should put the Republicans back in charge.

Another idiot to join Hussein's merry band.
I will say ,Hussein is doing what he promised the koolaid drinkers,"DESTRUCTION OF THE AMERICAN WAY"
We will pay for the mistake of the koolaid drinkers for the rest of our lives.

Senators should be encouraged to probe Garrett carefully about her relationship with David Boren, one of the most corrupt polliticians in U.S. history. See my link.

Peg...I'm a registered independent party member who voted for Ron Paul. I support this President 1,000% more than the previous one...Pom Pom Girl is correct her economics and history. REGARDLESS of who is in charge we can't repeat the mistakes of the '30's.

Cardinal Health is a perfect example of today's Corporate America's outlook, concept, and treatment towards their employees. There is no loyalty to long term hard working employees, no respect,no consideration, and surely no rewards to be considered. Overtime.Cardinal continues to take away medical and other benefits each year, and the cost of the benefits that are offered continue to esculate for the employees.The job postings for a distribution person states that the average annual income is $44,000, this is a FALSE statement. The average annual income is $35,000, the other $9,000 is based on Overtime.

lol. they can probe away. ms garrett is scandal free, as you will soon find out. perhaps she should have been tapped earlier on in the game and saved the administration a lot of embarrassment....

and, btw, its obvious that you have something against boren because of his sexuality. nice try, though.

homosexuality does not equal corruption, genius.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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