THE BLOG
06/07/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Three Cheers for Robert E Rubin

As an Electrical Engineer who has functioned in the business of Television for almost 50 years, it surprises most people that I have been fascinated by the study of economics for a long time.

I became interested in it when I heard President Eisenhower caution our country of the dangers that we will encounter because of "the military industrial complex." It was of particular interest to me as a liberal coming from a Republican President.

Many comment negatively that virtually all of the Treasury Secretaries selected by our Presidents came into the Administration directly from Wall Street. To me it was akin to assigning the foxes to guard the hen house.

Notwithstanding this, I was particularly impressed by Bill Clinton when he appointed Robert E. Rubin as the 70th Secretary of the Treasury. Rubin was already one of the most knowledgeable and best prepared leaders of finance to assume the office. Before entering public service, Secretary Rubin worked for twenty-six years at Goldman Sachs & Company, one of Wall Street's oldest investment firms, where he became their Co-Chairman.

He had originally been appointed by President Clinton to be Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and to serve as the Nation's first Director of the National Economic Council from1993 to1995. His vast experience in financial markets and collegial temperament helped President Clinton and his economic team develop an economic policy based on vigorous deficit reduction, global open markets, and investments in education, training, and the environment. This program helped to spark and sustain the longest economic expansion in the nation's history to date, transforming our budgetary position from deficit to surplus, and producing the lowest national rates of unemployment in decades.

Rubin was and is not your typical arrogant wealthy New York or Washington insider. He has character and stands up for the average American citizen.

He worked forcefully throughout his tenure for fiscal discipline and open trade, while strongly advocating policies to provide greater skills and support for workers and low income Americans, particularly those in the inner city. Rubin strongly supported aid for developing nations and acted to reform the architecture of the global financial system. He worked to reform the IRS and for financial modernization. He also championed priorities of Treasury's law enforcement agencies, including policies to redesign the nation's currency to thwart counterfeiting, decrease the accessibility of guns to former felons and to minors, enhance Presidential security, interdict drugs at U.S. borders, and combat money laundering. Upon Secretary Rubin's retirement, President Clinton called him the "greatest Secretary of the Treasury since Alexander Hamilton."

After succeeding Lloyd Bentsen as Treasury Secretary, Secretary Rubin faced threats to the countries' creditworthiness and to the stability of the global financial system. Secretary Rubin used his statutory authority to safeguard the Federal Government's finances and make timely payments of the federal debt when Congress did not raise the debt limit during an extensive budgetary confrontation. During his tenure financial crises flared in Mexico and Asia, posing real risks to global financial stability. Secretary Rubin led efforts with the IMF, the Federal Reserve and others to stop both crises from overwhelming the global financial system, thereby protecting the American economic expansion and spurring Mexico and Asia towards economic recovery.

Secretary Rubin's tenure at Treasury was extraordinarily varied. He spoke out about growing "interdependence" among nations and urged Americans to appreciate the benefits of increasing economic integration in the post Cold War era. He worked forcefully throughout his tenure for fiscal discipline and open trade, while strongly advocating policies to provide greater skills and support for workers and low income Americans, particularly those in the inner city.

In any event, I was thrilled to notice that Rubin had recently received the very prestigious Rhodes College Seidman Award in Economics. Most people of Rubin's stature simply fade away when they leave government. But was not for someone of his knowledge intellect, and compassion.

Rubin is a Special Limited Partner and Member of the Advisory Board at InSight Venture Partners. Mr. Rubin became a Member of the Advisory Board at the firm in March 2000. He is a Director, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Senior Advisor, and Member of the Office of the Chairman of Citigroup Inc., where he worked extensively with the firm's clients around the world. He joined Citigroup on October 26, 1999.

In any event, congratulations to Robert Rubin who deserves the award as he has served his country well.

I am sad to now report now that there is no such thing as the Rhodes College Seidman Award in Economics. I did write this article to annoy a right wing friend who is now a West Coast bank vice president. He absolutely hates Rubin. By the time he gets to this part he will have smoke coming out of his ears.

There is a Rhodes College, but there is no such thing as the Seidman Award in economics.

Sorry about that, (but not very).