By Heather Long
In 2011, when Republicans were threatening to force the government to default on its debt if the party’s policies were not adopted, they found support in a flashy, wealthy businessman: Donald Trump. “The Debt Limit cannot be raised until Obama spending is contained,” he tweeted.
A countervailing voice came from a wealthy, mild-mannered businessman who had left the world of high-finance to work for a $1 a year for one of Washington’s quiet think tanks. Jerome Powell, a former Carlyle Group executive and investment banker who had served a stint in the George H.W. Bush administration, traveled around Capitol Hill with a large binder from the Bipartisan Policy Center, urging Republicans to understand the risks of a default on the economy.
“He was the right person at the right time,” says Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center. “Powell brought a credible, factual presentation to Capitol Hill that allowed him to be effective despite the aggressive politics at the time.”
Now Trump, a combative politician who has tried to upend the institutions of Washington, is expected this week to name Powell as the new chairman of the Federal Reserve, where he serves as a governor. Fed chair is the top job steering America’s economy, and, according to people familiar with the process, Trump has decided to tap Powell for it after deciding against renominating the current Fed chair, Janet L. Yellen, or going in a sharply different direction by tapping Fed critics John Taylor or Kevin Warsh for the job. Prior presidents had typically renominated the sitting Fed chair, especially when the economy was doing well.
In some ways, though, Powell, who goes by the nickname “Jay,” fits the mold of a typical Trump pick for premium post. He’s a Republican …read more