Although the name of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.) did not come up at the press briefing at the White House yesterday, Press Secretary Jay Carney made it clear that the administration is gearing up for a confirmation battle over the nomination of Alan Krueger to be chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) against opposition that is sure to be led by Inhofe.
In response to a question from Talk Radio Network’s Victoria Jones about why he felt Senate Republicans would want to confirm Krueger, Carney noted that the Senate had confirmed him for other positions before this one. Then Carney went on to trot out endorsements of the nominee by prominent Republicans—a bit unusual to do only hours after the President had announced he was nominating Krueger to succeed Austan Goolsbee as CEA chairman.
“But another reason might be the assessment of the former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, Greg Mankiw,” noted Carney. “Krueger, he said, is a [sic] ‘excellent choice.’
“Another endorsement came from President Reagan’s CEA chair, Martin Feldstein: ‘His experience’—this is referring to Dr. Krueger—‘at the Treasury will give him a running start in his new job. Alan is an expert.’ And there have been numerous others who have weighed in with a similar assessment, that Dr. Krueger is an excellent economist, an experienced one, whose background is particularly suited to the current economic environment, and his advice will be very welcome.”
Carney’s firing these missiles of endorsement from past Republican officials occurred just as Inhofe, ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a leader in movements to stop confirmation of several key Obama appointees, weighed in against Krueger.
“The choice of Alan Krueger is yet another example of the Obama administration’s war on affordable energy, on American jobs and on our economy,” Inhofe told reporters.
“During his time at the Department of Treasury under President Obama, Mr. Krueger made clear his opposition to the development of traditional domestic energy. He even went so far as to say, ‘The administration believes that it is no longer sufficient to address our nation’s energy needs by finding more fossil fuels …’ He further stated, ‘The administration’s goal is to have resources invested in ways which yield the highest social return.’ Yet as the Congressional Research Service [CRS] reports, America has the largest recoverable reserves of oil, gas and coal in the world. The Obama administration’s failure to appreciate this fact is one of the many reasons why they are failing to make progress on creating jobs and improving our economy.”
Inhofe has placed holds in the Senate on several administration appointees, notably that of John Bryson to be secretary of commerce. Along with the reasons outlined by the Oklahoman, the nomination of Krueger is expected to face significant Republican opposition because of his past advocacy for a value-added tax and for cap and trade.