Is Washington Wishing and Waiting for Warren Buffett?


Watch out, Warren! Your name is getting kicked around in Washington as the common-sense financial wizard the nation needs in these troubled times.

USA Today's On Deadline blog notes that Boone Pickens used a National Press Club appearance today to call on Buffett to manage all those nasty assets the federal government would get from bailed-out financial institutions under the Treasury's proposed rescue plan.

Why? Buffett would use his investing instincts to eventually sell those debts at a profit after the housing market and economy recover and "risk" isn't such a four-letter word in the financial markets. As Pickens puts it, "If you could get Warren Buffett to manage the assets, I guarantee we the people would come out of this making some money."

Although Buffett is supporting Barack Obama for president, John McCain is also talking about a possible Buffett role in the bailout. NBC's First Read reports the Republican candidate told an Irish-American group in Scranton today that the Paulson plan needs a lot more oversight in the form of a "high-level oversight board." That board should be "bipartisan, have qualified citizens who have no political agenda but the protection of taxpayers and the financial markets. People like Warren Buffett, who supports my opponent, Gov. Mitt Romney, maybe (New York City Mayor) Michael Bloomberg, an independent, to oversee this."

All that sounds like a lot of responsibility and might even involve going to Washignton. Buffett is happy investing in what he understands from his modest offices in Omaha. ("I have three boxes on my desk: in, out, and too hard.")


Perhaps that's why Buffett floated Bloomberg's name to NBC's Tom Brokaw as a potential "nonpartisan czar to run all this so that we can go from one administration to the next without any kind of political interruption." Brokaw cited Buffett's idea in a question to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson during Sunday's Meet the Press on NBC, and repeated it to Bloomberg himself later in the program.

The Mayor's response: "I'd do anything that the country asked me to do, but I do have a job in New York... There are a lot of smart people out there."

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