WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton selected Robert Rubin, who
amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune on Wall Street before
joining the administration, to succeed Lloyd Bentsen as Treasury
Bentsen's departure will deprive the administration of the
Cabinet officer with the most experience and respect on Capitol
Hill just as Republicans are taking control of Congress for the
first time in 40 years.
But the change is expected to have little impact on policy
since both men are pro-business Democrats.
Rubin, who took a $26 million pay cut to leave the investment
banking firm of Goldman Sachs Co. to join the administration,
won widespread praise as a self-effacing coordinator who made
sure a coherent economic strategy was developed for a president
often criticized for an inability to reach timely decisions.
But it was unclear how smoothly Rubin would be able to make
the transition from his behind-the-scenes role to chief economic
policy spokesman for the administration, where he will have to
serve as the point man in dealing with a Republican Congress
intent on shrinking the size of government and cutting taxes.
In a Rose Garden ceremony announcing the change, Clinton
thanked Bentsen for his contributions and said, "I'm really going
to miss you."
Bentsen, who had spent 22 years in the Senate before joining
the administration, said he told the president back in September
of his desire to return to his native Texas and was not swayed
even though Clinton tried on several occasions to talk him out of
"It's been a great time to be Treasury secretary and it's a
great time to be bowing out as Treasury secretary," said Bentsen,
who later told reporters that the Republican takeover of Congress
had not influenced his decision.
Rubin's position as director of the president's National
Economic Council is expected to be filled by Erskine Bowles,
currently the deputy White House chief of staff.
An administration source, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
said that Bowles' selection was not announced Tuesday because the
White House had not decided on Bowles' replacement.
While Bentsen was the first top economic policy-maker to leave
the administration, there were already rumors of other
departures. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown is among those being
considered to run the president's re-election campaign and could
depart early next year.
Clinton praised Rubin as the "consummate honest broker" who
had helped the White House "do something that had never been done
before, to have an economic team that really works together as a
team." Clinton created the NEC to perform the same coordinating
role in economic policy that the National Security Council does
in foreign affairs. …