Michael Wessel is President of The Wessel Group Inc., a public affairs consulting firm offering expertise in government, politics, and international affairs. He began the firm in May 2006 after an extensive career in the public and private sectors.
Michael served on the staff of House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt for more than twenty years, leaving his position as General Counsel in March 1998. In addition to his duties as General Counsel, he was Mr. Gephardt's chief policy advisor, strategist, and negotiator. He was responsible for the development, coordination, management, and implementation of the Leader's overall policy and political objectives, with specific responsibility for international trade, finance, economics, labor, and taxation.
During his Capitol Hill tenure Michael served in a number of positions: He was Mr. Gephardt's principal Ways and Means aide, where he developed and advocated for 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 Democrats’ trade and competitiveness agenda as well as overall coordination of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988.
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 1999 Michael was appointed by Congress to serve as a Commissioner on the U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission which issued its report in 2000. Immediately thereafter he was once again asked to share his knowledge and expertise on trade and international affairs through his appointment by Congress to serve as a Commissioner on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a position he was reappointed to by Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a term expiring on December 31, 2017. The Commission was created to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress annual classified and unclassified reports on the national security and economic implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People ’s Republic of China.
In 1988, he served as National Issues Director to Gephardt's Presidential campaign and served as a senior policy advisory, counselor and surrogate in his second 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. During the 2004 Presidential campaign, he served as co-chair of the Trade Policy Group for the Kerry/Edwards campaign. And, during President Obama and Secretary Clinton's campaigns, he was publicly identified as an economic advisor.
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). He has written articles appearing in The Wall Street Journal,the Financial Times and other newspapers. He has been a frequent commentator on television and has been a guest on the Diane Rehm Show hosted on National Public Radio in addition to being frequently quoted in a variety of national and international publications.
Michael was elected to serve as a member of the Board of Directors of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in December 2005.
Michael holds a B.A. and a J.D. from the George Washington University. He is a cleared staff adviser to the USTR’s and Department of Labor’s Labor Advisory Committee as well as to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.