March 23, 2009
Six weeks after President Barack Obama appointed a blue-ribbon panel to help him dig America out of its economic crisis, the board has yet to hold an official public meeting.
The White House initially said that the 16-member Presidential Economic Recovery Advisory Board, headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, would meet “every few weeks.” Last month, a spokesperson told POLITICO the group would meet monthly. And more recently, the White House said the high-powered board, set up to address what Obama has called the worst economic emergency since the Great Depression, would gather only about four times a year, with the next session due in “late spring.”
But comments from board members and Obama himself indicate that some members of the panel are meeting, in smaller gatherings that have not been announced or opened to the public. And that raises the question of whether an administration that prides itself on openness and transparency is in fact finding it more convenient to conduct public business in private.
Now, the administration finds itself in a Catch-22: It does not want to say that the president’s economic panel, announced amid much fanfare, is not meeting during the worst economic crisis in generations. But if it is meeting, where’s the announcement, the agenda, the minutes? In short, where’s the sunshine?