"A repeating landscape on a Hanna-Barbera cartoon..."
Nearly two dozen luminaries from the worlds of finance, government, and academe had gathered in secret behind smoked-glass windows in a three-story concrete office building on Commercial Street in Boston's North End -- Romney campaign headquarters -- for a meeting of the governor's recently assembled Economic Policy Steering Group. Some had only to cross the river from Cambridge. Others flew in from Chicago, D.C., and the West Coast. Tough duty in the middle of a holiday weekend, but as one participant says, anonymously, it was "for a good cause." Each had been requested by e-mail to "exercise discretion in keeping the contents of the discussion and the membership of the group private." Indeed, no one who was there will confirm for the record that the meeting even took place.
Lanhee Chen, Romney's brainy, combative chief policy director, presided. Among the attendees (a few phoned in) were five former chairmen of the President's Council of Economic Advisers -- Martin Feldstein, Michael Boskin, Glenn Hubbard, Greg Mankiw, and Ed Lazear -- representing every Republican administration since Reagan's. Also present were Al Hubbard, the top economic policy adviser during George W. Bush's second term; Robert Zoellick, a former president of the World Bank (rumored to be a candidate for Treasury); Kathleen Cooper, the chairwoman of the National Bureau of Economic Research; Stanford professor John Taylor; hedge fund managers (and donors) Robert Grady and Chris Shumway; philanthropist Marie-Josée Kravis (third wife of billionaire Henry Kravis); and former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain (see chart for the full roster).
It's an all-star lineup, and groups like this one serve as holding pens for senior officials in waiting. Columbia Business School dean Glenn Hubbard, who wrote the foreword to Romney's campaign tract, Believe in America, and Mankiw, who teaches introductory economics at Harvard and wrote the textbook read by undergraduates everywhere, are among several holdovers from the 2008 campaign. There are deep ties to the Republican Establishment. Ron Suskind compares the list to the "repeating landscape on a Hanna-Barbera cartoon."
Glenn Hubbard from the Oscar-winning doc Inside Job:
"You've got 3 minutes left. Give it your best shot..."