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First Latino to Supreme Court

By Ted Nelson
May 28, 2009
File under: Cabinet, Obama


Barack Obama named his nominee to replace Justice David Souter on the United States Supreme Court today: Sonia Sotomayor, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge in New York.

Sotomayor was appointed to the Federal District Court of Manhattan by the first President Bush and then promoted to the Court of Appeals by Clinton, leading Obama to praise her as a non-partisan nominee.

She studied at Princeton before attending Yale Law school. She is a first generation American who grew up in the Bronx, the daughter of a factory worker: seemingly the embodiment of the American Dream.

If appointed she will be the first Latino ever to serve on the nation’s highest court, and the one of two woman on the current Court. …read more of First Latino to Supreme Court here

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Salazar a curious pick for Secretary of the Interior

By Robert Cowin
December 22, 2008
File under: Cabinet, Environmental Policy, Obama


The democratic Senator from Colorado, Ken Salazar, has been tapped to be our new Secretary of the Interior.  While not an environmentalist by any stretch, Salazar has done an excellent job mediating tensions between energy development interests and land conservation in his home state.  He’s been a strong advocate for hunters and outdoorsman, but he’s also been supportive of energy exploration and development on public lands.  In short, he’s the definition of a centrist; perhaps even a little right of center.

…read more of Salazar a curious pick for Secretary of the Interior here

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New Jersey’s Lisa Jackson to head EPA

By Robert Cowin
December 17, 2008
File under: Cabinet, Environmental Policy


What is the deal with EPA Directors being from New Jersey?  Is it a prerequisite or something?  We had Christie Todd Whitman (what a nightmare), and now we have Lisa Jackson.  Both were former heads of the New Jersey EPA, and while I would never compare Jackson’s record to Whitman’s, it’s clear that many New Jersey environmental groups regard her as being too lenient on polluters.  Having lived in and worked on environmental issues in New Jersey, let me say that when it comes to issues like climate change the State of New Jersey has its act together, but when it comes to issues like toxics, New Jersey is the poster child for ineptitude.  New Jersey has way too many untreated superfund sites, and many feel not enough was done to fix the problem under Jackson’s watch.

Lisa Jackson is currently the Chief of Staff for Governor John Corzine, and has held almost every position of note in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.  Her career speaks to a lifetime of work on environmental issues, and while the State of New Jersey has made some good progress in that regard, it’s not a place where ecological sensitivity trumps industry, nor has it ever been.  Perhaps you’ve heard the jokes about New Jersey’s toxic reputation.  Unfortunately, I can’t say that they are unwarranted. …read more of New Jersey’s Lisa Jackson to head EPA here

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Obama’s Economic Team

By Robert Cowin
November 28, 2008
File under: Cabinet, Economy, Obama


As I wrote about earlier in the week, President-Elect Obama has named New York Fed Chairman, Tim Geithner, as Secretary of the Treasury, and former Clinton Treasury Secretary, Larry Summers, as head of the National Economic Council.  These two men are extremely well respected in both the academic economic community as well as the business community.  Neither individual is untainted by the recent economic crisis (Summers as a champion for deregulation, and Geithner as a key decision maker for how $350 billion of the bailout has been spent).  But the fact remains that these are America’s brightest economic minds, and we should feel confident in their abilities.

President-Elect Obama named Christina Romer Director of his Council of Economic Advisors.  This is indeed a refreshing choice.  Romer is a Professor of Economics at UC Berkley, and an expert on the Great Depression and the recovery that followed.  The job of the Council of Economic Advisors is …read more of Obama’s Economic Team here

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NY Fed Chief, Tim Geithner to be new US Treasury Secretary

By Robert Cowin
November 25, 2008
File under: Cabinet, Economy


President-Elect Obama unveiled his economic team today, starting with naming a new Treasury Secretary.  New York Federal Reserve Bank Chief, Tim Geithner will take over for Hank Paulson as the US Treasury Secretary, and this news couldn’t come a moment to soon for the US stock market which had been in a virtually freefall all last week

In Geithner, we have a brilliant economic mind, who’s an academic, not a Wall Street guy.  He’s worked in the Treasury since the 80s and was also a Senior Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations.  He’s known to be a pragmatist and he’s known to be assertive.  Moreover, he represents change.  A brilliant youthful mind who is ready to experiment with solutions to the financial crisis sounds like something the American public can get behind.  He also enjoys the confidence of both the academic economic community and the business community.  With Larry Summers as the head of the National Economic Council, he’ll be flanked by arguably the greatest economic mind in the country.  Geithner is known as a tough regulator so it looks like he might be the right person to help fix some of the systemic problems on Wall Street.  His academic background also makes him uniquely suited to think creatively about solutions to our current crisis.  This appears to be a good move by President-Elect Obama.

I’m not an economist, but I recently completed a course in international finance and I’ve come to learn one thing about how the economy works.  Much of it is psychological.  The market itself is merely the manifestation of the relationship between how we collectively feel about our situation and how we express that as consumers.  Indeed deficits and bad business practices which erase wealth are real, but how we react to that information is where the real damage occurs.  Things that instill confidence in the average American serve to strengthen the economy.  That may be oversimplifying it a bit, but it seems to make sense to me.

Nothing instills confidence like having a job, and President-Elect Obama has announced he wants to create 2.5 million jobs by 2010.  Now that could just be rhetoric, but today, we found out that Summers and Geithner are the ones responsible for figuring out how to make that happen.  Indeed, this appears to be the beginning of a serious plan to jumpstart our economy and restore confidence to our financial system, and Americans can feel confident in the abilities of these two men.

This looms large in the face of President Bush’s irrelevance on the economy.  It appears he’s checked out a few months early.

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Stay current on the latest policies and progress government is making on addressing green issues. Find out what is going on off-camera and in the discussion chambers of government. Advocate your thoughts and ideas.

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