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Decision Makers Do-si-do
As a new year starts, three key institutions--the Federal Reserve Board, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Congressional Budget Office--are changing leaders. Out with the old, in with the new.
He steered the economy through numerous crises, and when he talked, financiers fell in line. But his habit of flooding markets with cash in times of trouble raised eyebrows. Endorsing Bush's tax cuts also struck some as inappropriate for the traditionally nonpartisan Fed.
A champion of the Bush tax cuts, Faris turned the NFIB into a powerful--and staunchly Republican--lobbying force during his 13-year tenure, helping to oust several top Democrats from Congress, including Tom Daschle.
Even though he previously worked on Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, the outgoing head of the CBO irked the White House by questioning the wisdom of privatizing Social Security and suggesting that same-sex marriages could boost federal revenue.
He has suggested setting an explicit inflation goal and de-emphasizing the traditional consumer-price index as the key indicator of inflation. Another promise: "not making recommendations on specific tax or spending proposals." Still, Greenspan has been such a calming influence that any move away from his policies may cause irrational anxiety among financiers.
NFIB's incoming CEO just sold his IT contracting company for $300 million. Watch to see if he reaches out to fast-growing businesses in addition to the mom-and-pops that dominate the NFIB's membership today and if he makes any effort to make peace with congressional Democrats.
He joined the CBO as deputy director in October and will serve as acting chief until Senate and House leaders name a permanent replacement. Also an alumnus of Bush's CEA, he is expected to be a top candidate for the job.