Senate confirms Austan Goolsbee as economic council chair

A public domain file photo portrait of Austan Goolsbee, who was approved by the Senate to chair the Obama administration's White House Council of Economic Advisers.

File photo of Austan Goolsbee, President Obama's new chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Samantha Appleton/Wikipedia)

President Obama has taken a political beating from all sides over how he has dealt with the economy. In the recent jobs speech he delivered in Cleveland, he appeared to be somewhat disconnected when it comes to understanding “the plight of the middle class,” as Arianna Huffington puts it. Obama said “Not everything we’ve done over the last two years has worked as quickly as we had hoped, and I am keenly aware that not all our policies have been popular.” In large part, this appears to be what prompted the president to nominate longtime adviser Austan Goolsbee to the position of chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, reports the Wall Street Journal. Goolsbee’s nomination has already cleared the Senate.

Austan Goolsbee: University economist and advisory board member

Austan Goolsbee is currently an economist at the University of Chicago business school, as well as the executive director of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. The WSJ says popular speculation is the president elevated Goolsbee to the White House Council of Economic Advisers chairmanship due to their personal friendship and association within the administration’s inner circle. Goolsbee will replace former Economic Advisers chairwoman Christina Romer.

The WSJ reports that Goolsbee assisted in drafting policies during Obama’s first year, including expanded health care access, higher education aid and an energy push to generate jobs. These areas have been part of the president’s “New Foundation” for middle-class economic security – at least in theory, says the Huffington Post.

Austan Goolsbee may not be the change for which critics are calling

Unemployment continues to plague America, and economic recovery during the current recession has been sluggish at best. Outrage has been palpable, even in Democratic circles, where the potential firings of Treasure Secretary Tim Geithner and National Economic Council Director Larry Summers have been discussed openly by lawmakers. But placing Austan Goolsbee in charge of the White House Council of Economic Advisers isn’t a sign of new policies to come, writes the WSJ.


Chicago Sun-Times

Huffington Post

Wall Street Journal

Austan Goolsbee on CNN’s “Late Edition,” Sept. 21, 2008

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