Recently, there's been a lot of liberal rage against Obama
So, I've long been critical of the Obama administration's economic policy, but there is one thing to know -- first off, there aren't actually all that many liberal economists, and even fewer with the stature to be Presidential advisers. Yes, there's Stiglitz and Krugman, and Brad DeLong, but, to my knowledge, none of them came down on the right side of Bernanke's fateful reconfirmation. Obama's choice to go with a team including Romer, Summers, Geithner, Austan Goolsbee, and Peter Orszag was a choice for Democratic economists with some sharp (or very!) sharp CVs (plus Jared Bernstein...). (How many of us have got "tenured at Harvard in our mid-20s" on our resumes?) Obama himself is not an economist and couldn't possibly have known about the Dark Ages economics has sadly fallen into the past few decades... And Summers published some extremely populist Op-Eds in 2009, rants about Bush Administration tax cuts and inequality, the kind of thing no liberal would have any qualms about, with an explicit eye toward appealing to candidate Obama.
I think that says Summers thinks Obama is a liberal. And I think it also makes it a touch more difficult to blame Obama for what were the key mistakes -- the reappointing of Ben Bernanke (which was supported by both DeLong and Krugman), the feet-draggging on the FOMC appointments, and the small stimulus. Obama deferred to the "experts". The experts turned out to be medeival priests on the key issues, even though these are not low-IQ, unqualified people. Then there's health care -- Obama did not give Summers control over health care, and the constraint on getting a more liberal health care bill came in the Senate, not from the White House.
Point is there just aren't that many doors President Obama could have knocked on to get competent advice on all three of these issues. And there are very, very few economists over the age of 35 who are ever worth listening to. More liberals need to get Economics Ph.D.'s instead of Anthropology or History Ph.D.'s if they want to shape policy (that's why I switched from Poly Sci/Law to econ), and we need to have more liberals who've got "Goldman Sachs VP" on their resume as well...
Schedule for Week of January 26, 2020
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