(17 of 18)
Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury
When Robert Rubin talks, everyone, especially the President, listens. Thanks partly to the departure of strong personalities like Leon Panetta and Dick Morris, Rubin has grown even more influential this year, dispensing advice on topics ranging from trade to urban renewal. "Rubin has earned his influence with a very reflective decision-making style that has produced success after success in very tough situations," says Gene Sperling, head of the National Economic Council.
Rubin's comportment undoubtedly helps. He exudes the calm, deliberate air of the polished investment banker he once was (he co-managed Goldman, Sachs & Co. for six years). As chairman of the National Economic Council during Clinton's first term, he persuaded the President that if deficit reduction was made a top priority, inflation and interest rates would drop, setting the stage for an economic boom. The strategy worked, and Rubin won the Treasury job when Lloyd Bentsen stepped down in 1994. Rubin also masterminded the politically risky $13.5 billion emergency bailout of Mexico in 1995. The gamble paid off: Mexican officials announced earlier this year that they would repay the loan package in full, three years ahead of schedule.
A centimillionaire, Rubin, 58, lives in Washington's tony Jefferson Hotel during the week, commuting by plane on weekends to see his wife Judy, who lives in New York City. A bonefishing enthusiast, he sometimes jets off to the Bahamas for a day's angling. Determined to promote further deficit reduction, Rubin pledges to push hard in the White House as well as in Congress to achieve a balanced budget by 2002. To do so, Clinton will have to compromise with the G.O.P. while still delivering on campaign promises the Republicans oppose, such as incentives for education and safeguards for the environment. The task is a tricky one, but Rubin remains bullish. Confidently and typically prosaic, he says, "I expect it will be done."