Globe Editorial

Can Ken Feinberg be cloned?

(Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
June 21, 2010

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IF SCIENTISTS ever perfect human cloning, they should make copies of Kenneth Feinberg, the Brockton native and former Ted Kennedy staffer who’s become renowned for allocating money wisely amid political and emotional firestorms. In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush tapped Feinberg to oversee a federal fund compensating victims’ families. Last year, President Obama put him in charge of deciding on pay plans for executives at banks that needed federal bailouts. And when BP agreed last week to set aside $20 billion to compensate those hurt by the company’s oil spill, it was inevitable that Obama would turn to Feinberg to oversee the fund. Who else could do it?

Still, it’s disturbing that there’s exactly one person with the credibility to mediate such complex, highly politicized disputes. Solving the toughest problems in government — from planning the future of Medicare to abolishing unneeded weapons programs — requires the same ability to accommodate mutually incompatible interests amid financial constraints. Feinberg deserves praise for handling tough assignments with skill and with little fuss, and, maybe more importantly, for winning broad acceptance of the soundness of his conclusions. If only Washington had more like him.

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