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More Behind-the-scenes Geithner Influence

I have a piece out today about the subtle ways Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has positioned his department to exert serious influence, despite what you've heard about Larry Summers, the top White House economic aide, dominating the policy landscape.

Today's Wall Street Journal brings another data point (via Halperin): Obama has just named Mike Froman, his law school classmate and close confidant, to an intriguing joint National Economic Council/National Security Council appointment. Froman was a colleague of both Geithner and Summers at Treasury in the '90s, first serving alongside Geithner as a deputy assistant secretary, then taking over as Bob Rubin's chief of staff for his last few years as secretary. As I understand it, Froman is closer to Geithner than Summers, though he worked well with Summers at Treasury, too.

Perhaps more to the point, the Journal piece makes this observation:

[W]ith his position straddling the NEC and NSC, Mr. Froman will also have to moderate policy disputes that could emerge between Treasury and State, as Ms. Clinton beefs up her agency's role in international economics.

I noted in my piece that both agencies want big pieces of the U.S.-China relationship. This seems to strengthen Treasury's hand a bit. Though, given that Rubin was one of his mentors, I'd guess Froman will work pretty hard to be even-handed.

--Noam Scheiber