In matters of style and background, Robert E. Rubin is worlds apart from the man he has been chosen to succeed as Treasury secretary.

A creature of Wall Street, Mr. Rubin has lived his life largely out of public view, both at Goldman, Sachs & Co., where he made his fortune, and at the National Economic Council, where he has guided policy from behind the scenes.

Lloyd Bentsen, the outgoing secretary, a former Senate Finance Committee chairman and one-time vice presidential candidate, has spent the last two years on the world stage, representing the administration in foreign capitals as well as on Capitol Hill.

Different as they are, though, the Treasury Department is unlikely to change significantly when Mr. Bentsen returns to Texas later this month, particularly in areas involving banking policy.

In large part that's because the two men have similar views on most policy matters, from the great questions of trade, deficit reduction, and jobs to the second-tier issues that concern the banking industry.

On banking issues, Mr. Rubin's National Economic Council has been supportive of Treasury policy right down the line, from interstate branching to regulatory consolidation.

Those who know Mr. Rubin say he also has a large concern with "overregulation" in general -- including the paperwork and cumbersome rules that bankers complain about most.

That should come as good news to an industry that is readying a campaign for regulatory relief. Treasury is the industry's point of contact with the White House, and it matters a great deal whether top officials there share the concerns of bankers.

It also matters whether the department is willing to invest its political capital in its beliefs. Moral support is always nice, but what counts is the willingness of senior Treasury officials to involve themselves in the legislative battle.

The 1989 thrift bailout, for example, might not ever have been enacted without the willingness of the Bush administration to involve itself at the most senior levels -- right up to the president himself.

It's true, of course, that banking issues in 1995 won't rise to the level of the 1989 thrift bailout, particularly for a president who was hammered at the polls last month and who faces reelection in less than two years.

"Glass-Steagall won't make any difference in how the president is perceived by the public," said one administration official. "Welfare reform, crime -- those are the issues that define the president for the voters he needs to win back."

However, the administration is also faced with the reality of a Republican Congress, and it may be looking for issues it can win on. That works to the industry's advantage, since Republicans are likely to be more helpful on banking legislation than other policy areas.

"Banking is one of the few areas where you can do more things that are considered good public policy with the Republican Congress than you could have done with the Democrats," said one Democratic insider. "You can run up a couple of victories in banking."

As a result, Treasury may decide to get behind a fairly substantial agenda of banking issues. Individual Retirement Accounts, a long-favored industry issue that has support from the Republican Congress, is one. Regulatory relief might be another.

Glass-Steagall is an open question. No firm was more opposed to breaking down the Depression-era separation of commercial and investment banking than Goldman Sachs, and some bankers worry that Mr. Rubin may still harbor doubts about the wisdom of repealing Glass-Steagall.

But administration sources insist the Treasury nominee has an open mind on the issue, and note that it is likely to be squarely on the agenda next year.

He is also likely to be surrounded by aides who favor Glass-Steagall repeal, in part because of the realities of a Republican Congress.

"With a Republican Senate, we can't count on getting people confirmed," said one administration official. "So if there's no compelling reason to make a change, we'll probably keep people where they are."

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