Who would be Romney’s Treasury secretary?

Apparently Carly Fiorina said today that being Treasury secretary in a Romney administration would be “a great honor.”

But given what I have found out about how Mitt Romney is viewing the position, I am not sure Fiorina would be on the short list. It seems that Romney would prefer someone who understands Wall Street and financial markets but is not a member of that club.

That would seem to rule out Manhattan financiers of the sort Republicans have picked in the past — Hank Paulson, Nicholas Brady, Don Regan — as well as the CEO types found in George W. Bush administration: industrial execs Paul O’Neill and John Snow.

Recall the list put out by the Washington Research Group a few weeks back:

 – Former World Bank President and Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick. Zoellick could also be a logical choice for Secretary of State. Few in Washington have the resume or the policy chops of Zoellick who currently resides as a senior fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

– U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). The former businessman and Chattanooga Mayor is a leading voice on the Senate Banking Committee.

– Hewlett Packard CEO and President Meg Whitman. The former President and CEO of eBay, Whitman lost a high-profile race for California Governor in 2010 and is a national finance chair for Romney.

– Former Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). The former Granite State Governor and Senate Budget Chairman was a 2008 and 2012 backer of Romney. Gregg was an architect of TARP and whipping support for Bernanke’s re-confirmation vote. Gregg is currently an advisor to Goldman Sachs, which could produce an additional speed bump.

– U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio). A VP finalist and former OMB Chief, Portman could fill a number of Cabinet roles.

– Former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. There will be at least one Democrat in the Cabinet, per tradition. Bowles is the Bowles of Simpson-Bowles and is definitely a wild card, but stranger things have happened.

– FDIC Director Thomas Hoenig. The darkest of the dark horses, the former Kansas City Federal Reserve President has a fan in Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and is the author of the plan to break up the big banks (require commercial banks to divest their broker dealers).

And a few other top guys who could make their way into the mix, but might also head the National Economic Council:

 – Former Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Glenn Hubbard. The current Dean of the Columbia Business School is a top economic advisor to Romney and could also be Treasury Secretary.

– Former Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Gregory Mankiw. The Harvard Economics Professor is another top economic advisor to Romney.


– Former Treasury Undersecretary John Taylor. Currently at Stanford University, Taylor rounds out the academic trifecta of Hubbard-Mankiw-Taylor.

– Former Fed Governor Kevin Warsh. Formerly at George W. Bush’s National Economic Council, Warsh became the youngest Federal Reserve Governor in history in 2006. Currently at Stanford University’ Hoover Institution with Taylor.

Some of those folks would be the darkest of dark horses, clearly. But I would especially keep an eye on the brilliant Kevin Warsh, who has a background on Wall Street but whose Washington and academic experience is more recent. A very respected guy in the center-right community.

Hubbard would be a natural for the job but is also someone who might replace Ben Bernanke at the Fed. Could he transition from Treasury to the central  bank so quickly? Under Jimmy Carter, William Miller went the other direction, from the Fed to Treasury.

One more thing: With a fiscal policy expert like VP Paul Ryan at the White House, how would that affect the role of Treasury Secretary? Bill Clinton picked Lloyd Bentsen, a pol, but Ryan would kind of be Romney’s Bentsen as the nation faces big fiscal challenges today as in the 1990s.

Are there any possibilities I’ve missed?

UPDATE: You can also toss former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas into the mix. His selection would seem to be very much be in the Lloyd Bentsen model.


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