MICHAEL R. WESSEL
Michael Wessel, Senior Vice President, joined Downey McGrath Group, Inc., a public affairs consulting firm offering expertise in government, politics and international affairs, in March 1999. He served on the staff of House Democratic Leader Richard A. Gephardt for more than 20 years, leaving his position as general counsel in March 1998. In addition to his duties as general counsel, Michael was Mr. Gephardt's chief policy advisor, strategist and negotiator. He was responsible for the development, coordination, management and implementation of the Democratic Leader's overall policy and political objectives with specific responsibility for international trade, finance, economics, labor, and taxation.
During his more than 20 years on Capitol Hill, Michael served in a number of positions: He was Mr. Gephardt's principal Ways and Means aide where he developed and implemented numerous tax and trade policy initiatives. He participated in the enactment of every major trade policy initiative from 1978 to his departure in 1998. In the late 1980s he was the Executive Director of the House Trade and Competitiveness Task Force where he was responsible for the Democrat's trade and competitiveness agenda as well as overall coordination of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. The National Journal wrote: Wessel is "generally credited in Washington trade circles with having helped to keep Gephardt ahead of the curve on major issues."
He was intimately involved in the development of comprehensive tax reform legislation in the early 1980s and every major tax bill during his tenure. Beginning in 1989, he became the principal advisor to the Democratic Leadership on economic policy matters and served as tax policy coordinator to the 1990 Budget Summit. In 1995 he developed the 10 percent Tax Plan, a comprehensive tax reform initiative that would enable roughly four-out-of-five taxpayers to pay no more than a 10 percent rate in federal income taxes. It became the principal Democratic tax reform alternative. In 1988, he served as National Issues Director to Gephardt's Presidential campaign. During the 1992 Clinton/Gore campaign he assisted on a broad range of issues and served as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Clinton/Gore transition office. After leaving Mr. Gephardt's staff, Michael opened his own consulting firm where he provided strategic advice to a number of business ' political and labor organizations. He also served as a Visiting Fellow at the Washington, DC-based Economic Policy Institute and currently maintains an affiliation with the Institute.
He has coauthored a number of articles with Democratic Leader Gephardt and a book: An Even Better Place: America in the 21st Century (Public Affairs, 1999). Recently, Michael was appointed as a member of the US Trade Deficit Review Commission, a congressionally created commission charged with studying the nature, causes and consequences of the United States merchandise trade and current account deficits.
Michael holds a B.A. and a J.D. from George Washington University. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania. He and his wife Andrea have four children.