Who Obama Should Pick for His Second-Term Cabinet

Should John Kerry replace Hillary Clinton?
Should John Kerry replace Hillary Clinton?

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/GettyImages

What would a truly progressive Cabinet look like?  President Obama now has the enviable task of restocking his administration—recharging the top ranks with decision-makers who may well determine whether the president becomes a progressive icon or a status-quo second-termer.  In that spirit, I thought it might make sense to suggest a few names.

For Treasury: Paul Krugman. There is something to be said for having been right. As far back as the early days of the cataclysm, he has diagnosed the problem properly, in both its micro- and macroeconomic implications, and called for precisely the right remedies. And he has called out the Beltway bloviators who mince words, are afraid to take a chance, and usually just go along to get along.  Paul won a Nobel Prize for a reason.  The last thing we need is another Wall Street voice filled with self-serving malarkey about “uncertainty being the reason businesses aren’t investing.”

For secretary of state:  John Kerry. Not just because he looks the part. He has the depth of knowledge and capacity to deal with the gnarly problems out there.  Let’s face it, the agenda isn’t pretty.  Even after we are out of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East is a mess, the Iran situation is a conundrum, and China is omnipresent.

For Defense: Colin Powell.  He is among the wisest and most thoughtful military leaders out there. Plain and simple. And a City College of New York grad to boot.

For the SEC: Dennis Kelleher or Gary Gensler. Dennis has proved through his advocacy at Better Markets that he fully understands the structures and enforcement actions that need to be brought to bear. During his more than 15 years as a partner at Skadden, one of the nation’s largest and finest law firms, he proved he knows the actual nuts and bolts of the lawyering that is used to mask what is going on.

Gensler has been a wonderful voice for reform from his perch at the CFTC, proving that where you come from—Goldman—matters less than how you think.

For chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers: Joe Stiglitz. He is the other half of the Krugman equation. His Nobel and writings prove that he, too, is one of the few who has been right, and he doesn’t cave to the handwringing of the establishment on Wall Street.

For director of the OMB: Robert Reich. Just read his books, his blog posts, his transcripts on my show. It is clear why we want him! Bring him back.

For Energy:  My colleague Jennifer Granholm. The last thing we want is to lose her, but she would be great. As attorney general, governor, and now as a host at Current, she gets the politics and the substance, and she knows government.

This is just a start, but these are the types of progressive minds we need: a Cabinet that understands the import of the victory that last Tuesday represented.