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"A Real Mistake": Progressives on Obama's Choice of Chief of Staff

Liberals Scoff at Daley's New Job

Carol E. Lee

US President George W. Bush speaks during a meeting with former Cabinet secretaries and senior government officials, including Bill Daley, former Secretary of Commerce, on free trade agreements at the White House in Washington, DC, February 26, 2008.

Adam Green, one of the most prominent progressive voices, was quick to criticize President Obama's decision on Thursday to make William Daley his next chief of staff.

"This was a real mistake by the White House," Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a statement. "Bill Daley consistently urges the Democratic Party to pursue a corporate agenda that alienates both Independent and Democratic voters. If President Obama listens to that kind of political advice from Bill Daley, Democrats will suffer a disastrous 2012."

Green says a big concern for progressives is Daley's opposition to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau being overseen by Elizabeth Warren, in addition to his opposition to the "public option" during the health care debate.

Daley has argued that Democrats should seek a more moderate stance, a position that has angered liberals who were already upset with some of the compromises brokered by Obama's previous chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

The liberal blogger Jane Hamsher, a frequent White House critic, described the pick as "an interesting choice, considering [House oversight committee Chairman Darrell] Issa is going to be investigating Fannie and Freddie, and Daley was a Fannie Mae board member. Fannie is the third most hated company in America. It's sort of like painting a sign on your back that says ‘Kick me.' "

Ezra Klein, a liberal writer for The Washington Post, said: "The Daley pick seems like a bad idea to me. The particular theory of politics he espouses seems woefully detached from the realities of the modern partisan environment -- as Jon Chait says, it effectively means 'allowing extreme positions to redefine the parameters of the debate.' But you can certainly read this post as evidence that Daley is a singular political talent, and the Obama administration would be well served by hiring someone able to sustain these sorts of contradictions."

In a statement, Executive Director Justin Ruben said Daley has "close ties to the Big Banks and Big Business" and that the announcement is "troubling and sends the wrong message to the American people." He added: "Americans are looking to the White House for economic plans that will create jobs and reign in Wall Street's excesses, and it's up to Daley to prove that he's not carrying water in the White House for the big banks that took our economy over the cliff. As the President continues to reshuffle his staff, particularly his economic team, it is now more important than ever that he focuses on rebuilding a middle class and developing policies that create more jobs on Main Street, not on Wall Street."

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