Washington's version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is much less exciting than everybody else's. It's called One Degree of Citigroup, and it's not much of a game since so many economic policymakers have worked at the banking behemoth. It's exactly the point Elizabeth Warren made in a big speech last week, expressing anger that Citigroup and other big banks were able to weaken a key Wall Street regulation in the new government spending bill.
In many ways, however, this isn't One Degree of Citigroup. It's One Degree of Robert Rubin. After his stint as President Bill Clinton's Treasury secretary, Rubin decamped for the newly-created Citigroup, which formed after Congress passed a law ending the Depression-era prohibition on banks and securities firms from operating under the same roof. And then Rubin's long list of proteges followed. It's been enough to turn Citigroup into a kind of government-in-exile for Democratic policymakers, with current and past employees including current Treasury secretary Jack Lew, former Office Management and Budget chief Peter Orszag and current U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman. (Former Treasury secretary Tim Geithner politely declined an inquiry about whether he'd be interested in joining the bank).