WHERE CLINTON'S TEAM STANDS Budget hawks and backers of business tax breaks got some big jobs. But so did activists eager to launch bold experiments on worker training -- and to get tough on trade.
By Ann Reilly Dowd REPORTER ASSOCIATE Suneel Ratan

(FORTUNE Magazine) – WE STILL CAN'T be sure exactly what Bill Clinton meant when he promised the country change. But at least we now know who his change agents will be. His choices point to an Administration that will be profoundly centrist on macroeconomic issues like the deficit and taxes but willing to experiment, intervene, and break new ground on microeconomic issues such as worker training, the environment, and R&D. Says Dirk Van Dongen, president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, one of Washington's most powerful lobbies: ''The question is whether those separate strains of Clintonomics will complement each other -- or collide.'' Many business leaders are optimistic. Says Kent Hughes, president of the Council on Competitiveness, which advocates more aggressive government support for business and a tougher U.S. trade policy: ''Like many in the business community, the Clintonites are no longer scared of government activism. They see our foreign competitors encouraging domestic industry. Instead of asking whether government can help, they are focusing on how it can do so most effectively.'' That still leaves plenty of potential for conflict between boardrooms and the Oval Office. Will incoming Labor Secretary Robert Reich be heavy-handed in his efforts to retrain the U.S. work force and improve labor-management relations? Will Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner impose costly new rules? And who will get key regulatory posts? For example, might a new Comptroller of the Currency ease capital requirements to make credit more available, particularly for small business? As Clinton rightly noted at his Little Rock economic teach-in, $30 billion in fiscal stimulus is ''peanuts compared with increasing bank loans.'' The records of the new Cabinet are mostly reassuring. Says Stuart Eizenstat, a mainstream Democrat who was Jimmy Carter's domestic policy adviser: ''It's about the strongest team you could imagine. Clinton's appointments reinforce the fact that he's committed to growth without inflation.'' Adds Union Pacific CEO Drew Lewis, who was Reagan's Transportation Secretary: ''The best thing Clinton has done is to get an economic team that looks like it will work together, because Bush's didn't.'' Treasury Secretary designee Lloyd Bentsen, 71, is the team's senior member -- and not just in years. This millionaire businessman (he made his fortune in insurance) should ease financial market worries. Bentsen's experience and stature on Capitol Hill, where for six years he chaired the powerful Senate Finance Committee, should also help Clinton get legislation through Congress. As head of the Joint Economic Committee in the late 1970s, the Texan led the drive for an investment tax credit, more generous depreciation rules, and a capital gains cut, changes that Ronald Reagan later advocated and won. Republican business lobbyist Charls Walker, a longtime fan of such pro- investment tax breaks, calls Bentsen's appointment ''absolutely fantastic.'' Bentsen's No. 2 at Treasury will be investment banker Roger Altman, 46. As Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for domestic finance under Carter, Altman played a key role in the decision to bail out Chrysler. Though that deal proved profitable for the government, the lesson he says it taught him is that such intervention should occur ''not too often.'' Raised in a lower-middle- class Boston family, Altman worked his way through Georgetown and the University of Chicago business school. He made his fortune during the noninterventionist 1980s by running the M&A department for former Nixon Commerce Secretary Peter Peterson's Blackstone Group. Deficit hawks are applauding Clinton's appointments of Leon Panetta, 54, chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Alice Rivlin, 61, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, to the top two jobs at the Office of Management and Budget. ''I'm overjoyed,'' bubbles the normally measured Rudolph Penner, Rivlin's successor at the CBO. Though his budget committee job made him the House's chief naysayer, Panetta, who comes from California, is widely liked and respected on the Hill for his drive and good humor. ''His laugh is infectious, and no one works harder than Leon,'' says Congressman Marty Russo, who shares a townhouse with Panetta and two other members to hold down the cost of commuting home to their families. ''He gets up at six and works all day; then he'll meet us for dinner, go back to the office at seven, and work until one. He loves long hours. He was made for OMB.'' Earlier this year, Panetta was critical of candidate Clinton for presenting a budget that didn't add up. ''His plan is good on increasing investment but does little on the deficit,'' he told FORTUNE a few months back. Panetta himself has proposed a Ross Perot-like approach. He would bring the budget into balance over five years by freezing the growth of middle-class entitlements like Social Security and Medicare and by raising taxes. (He hasn't been very explicit -- publicly -- on the latter.) Asked about Panetta's criticism at a news conference, Clinton quipped: ''I'm going to give him a chance to teach me some new math.'' Rivlin, an economist who hikes the Himalayas for fun, is no less determined or respected. Like Panetta, she has long advocated a balanced approach to deficit reduction, achieved through higher taxes or consumption and slower growth in defense and entitlement spending.

Brokering economic debates for Clinton will be Goldman Sachs co-chairman Robert Rubin, 54, who will head the National Economic Council, a new White House office that will coordinate the development of economic policy among relevant departments, much as the National Security Council does in its arena. Intense yet self-effacing, Rubin carries no known ideological baggage to his post. ''If he has any,'' says Oppenheimer & Co. CEO Stephen Robert, ''only his wife knows it.'' What the former risk arbitrager, who still loves to roam the Goldman trading floor, does bring to Clinton is a seasoned understanding of financial markets. ''The big question facing Clinton,'' Rubin told FORTUNE this fall, ''is whether he can stretch out deficit reduction to provide some up-front stimulus without undermining fiscal soundness and adversely affecting interest rates and the dollar.'' Those who remember the bitter infighting between National Security Adviser William Clark and Secretary of State George Shultz in the early Reagan years may fret that Rubin and Bentsen will lock horns. Not to worry, say Clinton insiders. They are longtime friends. Rubin's son worked in Bentsen's Senate office. Rubin is a thoughtful, hard-working fellow who cares little for limelight or status. He has carried the same now-battered briefcase for 30 years. At the same time, he has the stature to confront Cabinet members and a proven ability to function as a team player: Goldman's co-CEO management structure is a rare example of corporate power-sharing that works. While his fiscal-policy makers reflect Clinton's cautious side, his choices for other top economic posts reveal his more interventionist instincts. In naming Laura Tyson chairman -- make that chairwoman -- of the Council of Economic Advisers, Clinton rejected the tradition of giving this job to a prominent academic economist, usually with a specialty in macroeconomics. Many had predicted that he would tap one of a distinguished group of new-thinking Democratic macroexperts, among them World Bank economist Lawrence Summers, MIT's Paul Krugman, and Princeton's Alan Blinder. Instead he picked a 45-year- old professor at the University of California at Berkeley, who is best known for her research on how to develop a more effective industrial strategy. In announcing Tyson's appointment, Clinton said his Council would be ''more central to my Administration than in any since the Administration of President Kennedy.'' Tyson impressed Clinton during campaign and transition briefings in Little Rock with her clarity and vision. In her new book, Who's Bashing Whom? Trade Conflict in High Technology Industries, she asserts that ''free trade is not necessarily and automatically the best policy.'' But neither is she an outright protectionist. She opposes import barriers as costly and anticompetitive. Instead, she favors subsidizing key export industries in which foreign competitors already enjoy similar help and, as a final resort, relying on government-to-government negotiations to guarantee critical U.S. industries a certain share of protected foreign markets -- so-called managed trade. Says Krugman: ''She's a sophisticated, focused industrial policy advocate who sees the world through the eyes of Silicon Valley -- and has good vibes with Clinton.'' Another example of Clinton's interest in microeconomics is his appointment of longtime friend Robert Reich, 46, as Secretary of Labor. Usually, getting Labor is the political equivalent of being exiled to Outer Mongolia. Not in Clinton's cosmology. It was Reich, in his book The Work of Nations, who popularized the notion now central to Clintonomics that investment in education and worker training is the key to raising productivity, growth, and living standards. Says Blackstone Group senior adviser Jeffrey Garten: ''It was a stroke of genius for Clinton to put Reich at Labor, where there is so much opportunity for innovation in an area he feels passionately about.'' Reich's influence will surely extend beyond his department's walls, a reality that worries many businessmen and economists who admire his creativity but question whether this ex-advocate of an industrial policy that would pick winners and losers has really changed his stripes. Says Drew Lewis: ''My biggest concern is that this guy is too far to the left.'' Also controversial is Clinton's appointment of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Ron Brown, 51, as Secretary of Commerce. Clinton plans to make Commerce the lead agency in his drive to spur civilian R&D. As a political pro with a proven ability to cajole diverse constituencies into a united front, Brown has one of the credentials needed for a job that will require making tough choices between one petitioning CEO and another. But unless you consider eight years of lobbying for the Washington law firm of Patton Boggs & Blow business experience, he has none. That could prove a major drawback. The appointment that scares executives most is Clinton's choice of Gore protegee Carol Browner, 37, as head of EPA. As secretary of Florida's Department of Environmental Regulation, she won praise from environmentalists for her efforts to combat pollution in the Everglades and preserve the state's wetlands. But business reviews were mixed. Some managers call her strident and heavy-handed. Others hail her for innovations, such as a public-private partnership to recycle waste in government facilities. Says Bob McKnight, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce: ''She's a tough, tough lady who won't back off from a fight. But if business says here's how we propose to protect the environment, they can work with her.'' During Gore's session on the environment at the economic summit, Browner went out of her way to convince business that she plans to be less adversarial. She promised to streamline rule making and substitute incentives -- like pollution taxes -- for command-and-control regulation. If she fails to keep those pledges, the mounting costs of a major new environmental cleanup drive could undermine the long-term growth and job creation that Clinton seeks. Another woman on whom Clinton will rely heavily is Donna Shalala, 51, Secretary of Health and Human Services. HHS manages Medicare and Medicaid, among many other programs, and has the government's biggest budget -- $299 billion in fiscal 1993, vs. the Pentagon's $274 billion. As chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, Shalala has earned a reputation as a consensus builder, a strong administrator, and an outspoken advocate for children. However, she has not been active in the debate over health care reform. To insiders, that suggests this crucial part of Clinton's agenda will be shaped in the White House. Says one transition team member: ''I can't imagine Clinton letting that issue out of his hands.'' INDEED, among this crowd of capable policymakers, it will be the President himself who sets the standard as Mr. Hands On. As any C-SPAN viewer of his Little Rock summit is now aware, Clinton revels in the to-and-fro of policy debates -- a continuous exercise that his friends have dubbed ''the conversation.'' But at some point he must delegate and decide. When that happens, there may be only a few in the room -- Hillary, Gore, political adviser Bruce Lindsey, and boyhood friend and soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff Thomas ''Mack'' McLarty, 46, chairman and CEO of Arkla, a natural gas distribution company in Shreveport, Louisiana (1991 sales: $2.8 billion). ; Crunch time arrives in January, when Clinton must determine the details of his economic plan. At the moment he still seems interested in a modest stimulus package that might increase the federal budget deficit by $30 billion in 1993. The big unanswered question: To what extent will steps to spark investment-led growth be accompanied by credible action to sharply reduce the deficit in 1994 and beyond? And how? For Clinton and his team, no decision over the next four years is likely to prove tougher -- or more critical -- than this first one.