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Paulson’s Nationalistas

Last week will forever be known as the moment Washington took over Wall Street. So who did Hank Paulson hire to run the nationalized financial system?

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Illustrations by Remie Geoffroi; Icons by Jason Lee  

Neel Kashkari
What he does:
The top man at the Office of Financial Stability; he’s running the bailout, hiring the lawyers and money managers who’ll put Wall Street back together again.
Where he’s from:
The Midwest, like Paulson. Worked for NASA; known as “the rocket scientist.” Went to Goldman Sachs after business school. When he learned that Paulson would leave Goldman to take the job of Treasury secretary, Kashkari told him, “I’d love to be part of your team if you’re interested.” Started out as Paulson’s troubleshooter.
What he’s thinking:
When he first came to D.C., Kashkari is said to have worried that he would be an invisible bureaucrat without any influence. That’s not a worry anymore.

David Nason
What he does:
One of Paulson’s chief policy advisers. He’s the wildly creative brains behind the transformation of our banking system. If there’s a new idea about how to rescue the banks, it probably came from Nason.
Where he’s from:
Grew up in Rhode Island but made his career as a securities lawyer in Washington. A top adviser to SEC commissioner Paul Atkins, often regarded as the most conservative commissioner ever.
What he’s thinking:
Nason is a free-marketeer, privately uncomfortable with the government’s newly expanded role. When Paulson describes government ownership of banks as “objectionable,” that’s also Nason’s view.

Michele Davis
What she does:
Officially, she’s Paulson’s flack. But as policy- planning director, she’s also Paulson’s right-hand woman. “The secretary doesn’t do anything without talking to Michele,” says an insider. She’s in every meeting Paulson goes to, and she tells him how to sell the bailout to the public.
Where she’s from:
Kentucky. Came to D.C. for college and never left. Has held a slew of government jobs—including a stint at now-beleaguered Fannie Mae.
What she’s thinking:
A longtime Republican loyalist, she helped craft the Contract With America. She’s got a solidly free-market background, which makes it all the more ironic that she’s charged with selling the public on the government’s takeover.

Kevin Fromer
What he does:
Paulson’s Capitol Hill fixer and flak-catcher. The one who takes the heat from lawmakers over the bailout and twisted the arms that needed to be twisted to get the bailout law passed. Ran the portable Treasury Department Paulson set up on the Hill when the House was preparing to vote on the bailout for a second time. Remember those stimulus checks? Fromer’s the one who got Congress to vote for those too.
Where he’s from:
A native of Fairfax, Virginia, and a Capitol Hill lifer, having worked there since 1982.
What he’s thinking:
Whatever Fromer’s ideological leanings, he’s the consummate pragmatist and D.C. deal-maker. He makes sure logs that need to be rolled get rolled, so long as Paulson’s bills get passed.

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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