Obama Names New Top Economics Advisor


President Obama’s top economist, Austan Goolsbee, is heading back to teach at the University of Chicago.  If he worked in the private sector, he would be scared to death of having “President Obama’s top economist” on his resume, but happily for Goolsbee, that won’t be a problem at the university.

His replacement as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers will be Alan Krueger of Princeton University.  The Wall Street Journal introduces him as follows:

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Krueger, a labor economist, is likely to provide a voice inside the administration for more-aggressive government action to bring down unemployment and, particularly, to address long-term joblessness.

“More-aggressive government action to bring down unemployment?”  What America desperately needs, in a radical departure from the colossal failure of the Obama presidency thus far, is a less aggressive government.  The swiftest and most powerful stimulus to job creation would be a slash-and-burn dismantling of the regulatory machinery that has reduced the private sector to a terrified defensive crouch.

The Journal gives us a taste of Krueger’s prior work for the Obama Administration:

While at Treasury, Mr. Krueger worked on analyses of a variety of programs, including tax incentives to encourage employers to hire the employed, the “cash for clunkers” initiative to jump-start auto purchases and Build America taxable municipal bonds.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, through a spokeswoman, said that “given his expertise in labor economics, he is precisely the right choice to lead the CEA at this moment in history.”

I assume that’s a typo on the Journal’s part, and what they really meant to say was “tax incentives to encourage employers to hire the unemployed.  Obviously, whatever Krueger came up with didn’t work, because we’re still saddled with Obama’s crushing levels of unemployment.  I wouldn’t look for great results from an “economist” who doesn’t understand that short-term, temporary tax incentives don’t produce a lot of long-term employment.  As I’ve said before, that’s like expecting a subsidy for wedding rings to produce a spike in marriages.

“Cash for Clunkers?”  That’s one of the most spectacular failures of this awful Administration.  If Krueger had some role in devising a plan that blew huge amounts of taxpayer money on a futile effort to pump up new car sales for a month, and then lose those gains completely in subsequent months – wrecking the used car and auto parts markets along the way – then he’s not going to blow any fresh air into Obama’s stale brand of corporatism.

“Build America bonds?”  That was another subsidy for “infrastructure spending,” one of the only three proven-failure ideas Obama advances during his frequent “pivots to job creation.”  Obama has spent the last few months declaring America a blasted wasteland whose infrastructure must be “rebuilt” at staggering expense.  Obviously, by the President’s own declaration, the Build America bond program didn’t fix our decrepit infrastructure, and it obviously didn’t spur any robust job creation.

If there’s one thing the Obama disaster has conclusively proven, it’s that government spending and regulatory micro-management don’t produce robust growth.  Every financial engine they try to fine-tune with their sledgehammers winds up exploding.  They’ve displayed complete ignorance of the long-term nature of the relationship between employers and employees, leading to their endless bafflement at the failure of their “job creation” lollipops.  They shrink the private sector by using massive deficit spending to make government larger… and then wonder why the private sector isn’t growing.

Top Krueger’s resume off with a ringing endorsement from tax cheat Tim Geithner, and he sounds like a perfect fit for the team working to win Jimmy Carter’s third term in 2012.

Update: Another Alan Krueger brainstorm? The VAT tax.  Oh, he’ll fit right in.