The nation's choice for a new Treasury Secretary made front page news in the Washington Post this morning. Check out the article here and Neil's response below where he argues the importance of choosing a Secretary who can fight against not only the financial crisis, but also global poverty.
Response to Washington Post's '"Succession at Treasury Emerges as Key Question"
By Neil Watkins
Sept 25, 2008
This article correctly identifies that the selection of the next Treasury Secretary will be a critical early choice for whomever wins the Presidency. Someone must be chosen who can manage the economy, avoid further financial meltdown, and help ensure that the economy works for working families.
But the US Treasury Secretary also plays a little known but critical role in foreign policy and is a critical actor in the fight against global poverty. The next President needs to choose a Treasury Secretary who can manage the economy at home and help ensure fair economic policies and development for impoverished countries around the world.
The US Treasury Secretary, in addition to managing the US economy, represents the US in meetings with finance ministers of the world's leading economies, holds the most powerful seat on the boards of international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and plays the most critical role in determining debt relief for some of the world's most impoverished nations.
The Treasury Secretary is not only an economic position but is a critical part of the US' foreign policy. The US projects its power and influence around the world in international negotiations and through its policies towards international institutions. To restore Us leadership in the world, the Treasury Secretary should make reform of the international financial institutions and expansion of poor country debt relief -- an effective tool to fight global poverty with strong bi-partisan support in Congress -- a priority as well.
Now is the time for a leader at Treasury who can restore confidence in the US economy and ensure justice and dignity for the billions of people around the world that are affected by the decisions he or she makes. While the priority of responding to the US crisis cannot be overstated, we have an obligation to keep in mind the needs of the rest of the world as they are impacted by the financial crisis, as well as the crisis of skyrocketing fuel and food prices. The next President needs to appoint a Treasury Secretary (and other political appointees within Treasury, including the key positions of Undersecretary for International Affairs and Assistant Secretary for International Affairs) that prioritizes these issues. Great nations can and must do more than one thing at the time.