Hank Paulson is getting antsy. He's been in DC for almost a year now and the old boy doesn't have much to show for it. When Paulson left Goldman Sachs, he planned on using his Hammer-like deal-making skills to get stuff (Social Security, Doha global trade talks, China) done. But, according the Wall Street Journal, the same qualities that made Paulson an efficient higher up at Goldman, and allowed him to outs Jon Corzine from the company (while JSC was away with his family for Christmas in Colorado)--impatience, forcefulness, an insistence on interrupting people and monopolizing conversations--just make him a dick at the Treasury, and a frustrated one at that.
Spoiler alert: Washington is full of long lines and red tape, because of this thing called politics. While he's had some successes (he gained Charles Rangel's support on free-trade pacts with Panama and Peru, China has said it will allow the Yuan to rise slowly and has opened its doors (by an almost negligible amount) to foreign financial firms), progress is occurring at a snail's pace (or whatever a snail's pace is for a former offensive lineman with "nearly boundless energy. Media outlets: we get it. He played football in college. Tell us one more time and you will have qualified for a free copy of Jack Welch's Winning: Answers).
Setbacks, disappointment and aggravation have not necessarily convinced Paulson that he no longer works at 85 Broad Street. He still operates like a "take-charge Wall Street executive, sometimes taking the spotlight from other cabinet officers and treating his Treasury staff as if they were Goldman partners always on call." Makes people work on Sundays. Only allows short power naps during flights to Vietnam and China. Looks in the mirror every morning and tells himself, "You own this town, Paulson."
Today Paulson will meet with top Chinese officials in Washington for two days of talks. The Strategic Economic Dialogue (created by HP last year) is expected to cover the Chinese environmental record, our policy on exports to China, and China's "unwillingness to allow its currency to rise freely against the dollar, which would make Chinese goods pricier and less threatening to U.S. competitors."
Paulson's got the relationship he forged with over 70 visits to China during his time as Goldman CEO on his side, plus the fact that, as a Christian Scientist, he's got no regard for his own well-being and has that "nothing to lose" mentality. He can also palm a basketball, and that's got to count for something.
Paulson Finds Deal Making Is Tougher in Washington [WSJ]