If not Paulson, then who?
Both Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama showered praise on legendary investor Warren Buffett when asked during a presidential debate whom they might put at Treasury. Buffett says maybe Paulson should stay for a while.
Obama has a couple of Bill Clinton's treasury secretaries as economic advisers: Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. McCain has current and former CEOs of major companies, including Meg Whitman of eBay and Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard.
As for Buffett, McCain said when asked in the debate, "He has already weighed in and helped stabilize some of the difficulties in the markets and with companies and corporations, institutions today." Buffet and his company, Berkshire Hathaway, are bailout machines second only to the U.S. government, pumping billions into Goldman Sachs, General Electric and other troubled companies.
Obama agreed that "Warren would be a pretty good choice - Warren Buffett, and I'm pleased to have his support."
It's a little hard to imagine the oracle of Omaha putting his money in a blind trust
- or leaving Omaha for that matter. He has previously responded to such suggestions by saying he loves running is company and a government position would be outside his "circle of confidence." Would he respond to an appeal to help his country in a time of need? Who knows.
On PBS' "The Charlie Rose Show" recently, Buffett said Paulson would do the next president a favor by staying in the job at least a year.
Paulson has appeared to rule this out in television interviews, saying he's told both candidates he would "start working with whoever the new treasury secretary is as soon as he is appointed and work to make the transition a first-rate transition."
"There are other folks out there," Obama said when asked specifically about Buffett. "The key is making sure that the next treasury secretary understands that it's not enough just to help those at the top. Prosperity is not just going to trickle down."
Obama and McCain are both surrounded by experienced economic advisers.
Obama's team includes Buffett, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and the two former treasury secretaries, Rubin, now an executive with Citigroup, and Summers.
Summers has been put before the public a lot by the Obama campaign. But he's not without controversy. After serving as Clinton's final treasury secretary, he became president of Harvard. He drew worldwide attention for his comments that biological differences may partly explain the dearth of women among the very highest achieving scientists, a controversy that led to his resignation.