David R. Henderson  

Summers vs. Goolsbee

Sociology and Masonomics... The Beatings Will Continue Unt...
President Obama was getting his daily economic briefing one recent morning when a fly distracted him. The president swatted and missed, just as the pest buzzed near the shoes of Lawrence H. Summers, the chief White House economic adviser. "Couldn't you aim a little higher?" deadpanned Christina D. Romer, the chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
Mrs. Romer was joking, she said in an interview, adding, "There are only a few times that I felt like smacking Larry." Yet few laughed in the president's presence.

This is from "Obama's Economic Circle Keeps Tensions High."

The whole thing is worth reading. Particularly interesting is its answer to a question I had wondered about: where were Obama's economic advisers on the issue of bailing out Chrysler? I had hoped that at least some of them were against it. Clearly, one was: Austan Goolsbee. The article continues:

Mr. Summers, along with Mr. Geithner and the political advisers, favored giving Chrysler a second chance. "My judgment, and Tim's judgment, was that given all the equities involved, and given the potentially traumatic effects on confidence, that it was much better to try to save Chrysler if a reasonable merger agreement could be reached," he said.
Mr. Goolsbee argued that rescuing the financial system was one thing, since credit is the economy's lifeblood, but the government should not run an auto company. Saving Chrysler, he added, could further harm General Motors, which stood to gain market share.
The arguments became so heated that Mr. Summers stormed from one meeting, a witness said. While he later included Mr. Goolsbee's objections in a memorandum for Mr. Obama, he excluded Mr. Goolsbee from the decisive meeting with the president.

H/T to Brian Mack.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (3 to date)
Devin Snead writes:

I actually used to like Goolsbee until I saw that he said this

The fact that we are here to bitch about the economy and about this policy and that and the budget forecasts for GDP growth are 1 percent too low, I’m thrilled, I’m overjoyed that we aren’t all out of our jobs and we prevented the Great Depression. That in itself is an overwhelming accomplishment.

Joe Kristan writes:

I remember one libertarian supporting Obama based in part on Goolsbee's presence on his team of advisors. That's not exactly working out.

Eric H writes:

Perhaps David is discounting the article for its romantic reek. I can't take reporting (reportage?) like this seriously:

"The disagreements are only natural, White House officials say. The issues are big, and so are the personalities, as Mr. Obama intended."


“You can’t assemble a group of really brilliant people, and deal with some of the most complex problems in our lifetimes and not have disagreements,” said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior political strategist who, with the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, plays a big role in mediating among the economic advisers and helps shape the decisions."

The implications here are threefold: 1) Our President and his svengalis are actually capable of mediating between "genuises" of unquantifiable "brilliance," 2) those same geniuses possess the precise amount of talent and know-how to manage a $14 trillion economy and fight back "the most complex problems of our lifetime" 3) painting this kind of treacly, shirtsleeves-rolled-up picture is necessary to placate that portion of the modern statist constituency Will Wilkinson so aptly described as "the politics-as-romance set."

I don't know which is more repugnant: the Obama administration actually considering itself unique amongst all presidential administrations, or the New York Times trying to pass off Camelot-era hagiography as journalism.

Don Boudreaux linked to a couple of YouTube videos of Fred Dent's optimistic take on the future a couple of days ago. I don't share Dent's optimism completely; if our current problems are not necessarily historically unique, there is always ample opportunity for political hubris to stumble around and make them so. The NYT article just seems like evidence of that to me.

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