By a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll want former Xerox Corp. chairman and CEO Anne Mulcahy to replace Lawrence Summers as director of the National Economic Council, the chief economic advisory forum at the White House.
However, 29 percent of poll participants said they are “strongly opposed.”
Summers last week said he would leave the position at the end of the year. Mulcahy served on President Barack Obama’s Transition Economic Advisory Board.
Mulcahy on Thursday told CNBC she is not interested in becoming director of Obama’s National Economic Council.
"They’re looking to obviously have more CEO and business representation,” Mulcahy said during a morning interview. “They’d love to have more women in the administration. So do the search on women CEOs (who are) Democrats, you come up with a short list of people."
Other possible successors mentioned in the media include Richard Parsons, chairman of Citigroup; Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric Co.; and Laura Tyson, an economist who held the position in 1995 and 1996.
The idea of selecting a CEO instead of an economist also has stirred debate. Again by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, RBJ Daily Report readers say a CEO is the best fit for the job.
More than 570 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Sept. 27 and 28.
Would you support or oppose the selection of Anne Mulcahy as director of the National Economic Council?
Support strongly: 25%
Support somewhat: 27%
Oppose somewhat: 19%
Oppose strongly: 29%
In your view, should the next National Economic Council director be a CEO or an economist?
Here are some comments from readers.
I believe the administration would benefit greatly from having the input of an actual successful CEO from the business community. Lack of such input has been a detriment to the economy. She should not only be selected, but her input should be given great weight in guiding the course of the economy.
There is no cleaning up what has been created in debt by this administration and House of Representatives—it’s generational now. I chose “oppose strongly” in the poll—not for the sake of I don’t like Ms. Mulcahy or that she is not qualified, but why ruin her good reputation? You can take decisive actions to fix things in business, not in politics. Plus, why take the risk of being the scapegoat? President Obama’s staff is bailing out every day. Someone knows something. Ms. Mulcahy would be thrown under the proverbial bus if necessitated when the 2012 election cycle rolls around. My advice is run as far away from this as you can, Anne Mulcahy!
—Dave Rusin, founder, president and CEO, American Fiber Systems Inc.
Mulcahy? Are you kidding? Does anyone remember when Xerox was a $150 stock? If I recall correctly, it split to around $75. My numbers may be off a bit, but the order of magnitude is there. Xerox was around $8 a share when she left. Hmmm. On second thought, she might just fit in.
Anne has proved herself; she saved a great company, she found a good successor. Let’s hope she can do the same for the country!
Wait, is she nuts? What would possess anyone to even think of crawling into that belly of the beast?
—Jim Duke, Victor
“Director of the National Economic Council, the chief economic advisory forum at the White House.” Doesn’t that say it all? While a CEO may be knowledgeable about the day-to-day operations of a corporation—and I believe there are better CEO choices than Anne Mulcahy—we are talking about a body that advises on national economic policy. As a college graduate with an economics degree and also the head of a corporation, I can confirm that running a corporation and setting national economic policy are very often as different as the Greek and Latin languages.
—D. Scott Maxson, MoneyMax Group LLC
Although Mulcahy seems bright and driven, this position needs a person who has a very good understanding of the macroeconomics of our world. Having been CEO for one company is not enough, especially when that company has very little to do with the financial markets or the banking system.
—Kenny Harris, EPIC Advisors
Why would any successful, self-respecting businessperson want to be associated with what will very likely be known as the worst administration in the history of the republic?
Despite my personal admiration for Ms. Mulcahy and appreciation of the remarkable work she did at Xerox, her direct involvement and complicity as a board member with Citi’s payment of foolish and destructive executive compensation should, in and of itself, preclude her service as the chair of the NEC. There are a great many positions in government that can and should be filled with former CEOs like Mulcahy; however, this particular position should be filled by a highly qualified economist. The skill set of even the best CEOs does not necessarily qualify anyone for the rigors of the NEC position that is so critical to our understanding of the complexities of our domestic and global economies. Putting Mulcahy in the chair position would be the equivalent of having a general practitioner perform brain surgery. It is only our general lack of understanding of the field of economics that allows Mulcahy to even be considered for this position.
This position needs someone with a much broader background and wider knowledge of economics than a CEO, no matter how successful they have been in their company.
I believe that Anne is more than capable but wonder why she’d even want to take it on.
—C. Lewis, Perinton
I think the next NEC director should be a CEO. My reasoning is that a CEO has had to operate within a variety of economic conditions and be creative with responses and solutions. The ramifications of performance, both positive and negative are very real for the CEO and the company. That experience is invaluable (assuming the CEO is successful). An economist offers opinion based on observation or theory or both. We should all be so blessed to have such a job! For example: Obama’s economic advisers are saying the economy is healthy and the recession ended in 2009! Don’t believe me, Google it. The names are Larry Summers and Austan Goolsbee. How many companies do you think they ran? Zero would be the right answer!
Have not the CEOs done enough damage? How about Nobel Laureates in economics like Stiglitz or Krugman. For those more conservative, there is Paul Volker, who tamed double-digit inflation under Reagan. He then was let go after his success for not subscribing to the Chicago School/Freedman view that the market will regulate itself.
—Jim Bertolone, president, Rochester, AFL-CIO
Unless they plan on taking someone from the Mises Institute or some other form of Austrian School of Economics, I’ll go with a CEO. Although Mulcahy’s performance seems fairly pedestrian at Xerox, she’s probably better than getting some Keynesian from a left wing think tank.
—Devon Michaels, Chili
She has been through good and bad situations, and seen the long-term impacts of some of her decisions. Hopefully she is wise enough to apply those lessons to her next endeavor.
—Jim Baker, Foundation Design, P.C.
I strongly believe that the next NEC director be a CEO. Economists tend to be more ethereal, as opposed to the "get it done" CEO Attitude. That said, Anne Mulcahy’s remarkable turnaround for Xerox would be an ideal prototype for the NEC.
Anne’s positive history at Xerox is one thing, but her role as a board member at Fannie Mae and Citigroup before and during the housing market debacle does not bode well for her likely performance as Director of the National Economic Council. However, all the other CEO candidates you have listed are far worse choices.
I predicted Ursula Burns the day Summers announced his departure and days before Mulcahy was named as a possibility.
Her slash-and-burn process at Xerox gives little confidence that she won’t use the same process to the Nation. Even though she may have rescued Xerox from bankruptcy, she did nothing noteworthy to salvage the company. Contrary, she paid little attention to the products and manufacturing of Xerox.
—Ingo H. Leubner, Crystallization Consulting
The sooner that economist Larry Summers is sent packing back to Harvard, the better. We are just through "The Summer of Recovery." It was, "The Summers of Non-Recovery." Give ’em hell, Anne.
—Clifford Jacobson, WebHomeUSA.com
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