From yesterday's Politico Playbook: "WELCOME TO THE WORLD: Stephanie Allen, speechwriter for CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler, and POLITICO's Jon 'Huddle Up' Allen welcomed Asher Henry Allen -- 'Ace' -- to the world. Six pounds, 19 inches long. Mom's smooth delivery augurs well for Asher's pitching career. "
Congratulations on the new baby, but I couldn't help the reaction: "Gary Gensler has a speechwriter?" By Washington standards, the CFTC is a pretty small operation, with a budget of about $200 million a year and a staff of about 650, up from 437 in 2007. Mr. Gensler's official biography describes him as "the co-author of a book, The Great Mutual Fund Trap, which presents common sense investment advice for middle income Americans" and as "a summa cum laude graduate from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School," suggesting he might have the skills to write his own speeches. Or maybe some policy or press aide could do some speechwriting on the side in addition to other duties, which is how even presidents of the United States, who make more speeches than CFTC chairmen, handled the matter until fairly recently.
Someone, maybe Mickey Kaus, suggested some time ago that no executive branch official below Cabinet secretary rank in Washington should have a staff speechwriter. Some enterprising lawmaker could introduce a bill to that effect, kicking it off with a hearing with charts on how many executive branch officials there are in Washington now with the title speechwriter and tracing it back several decades to show the growth. There are some agencies in which the deputy secretaries have their own speechwriters. Someone — again, maybe it was Mr. Kaus — suggested that the Washington press corps has avoided highlighting the issue because speechwriters are often former reporters, and they leak to their old colleagues, so they tend to be well liked. Or the press just likes having the federal speechwriting jobs there to help drive up the wages for reporters and to provide career options. Nothing against speechwriters — I have known some hardworking and talented ones — but, like everything else in Washington, they have a way of expanding at taxpayer expense to the point where the federal government is spending a trillion dollars a year more than it is taking in in taxes.