Saturday, September 22, 2007

Obama's Econ Peeps

An April WSJ article looked at three of the key economic advisors to Obama: Jeff Liebman, David Cutler, and Austan Goolsbee. All three are mainstream academics who fit comfortably in the conventional Democratic wonk world. Liebman and Cutler are both Harvard profs who served in the Clinton administration--Liebman's an expert on the EITC and welfare policy, while Cutler's a well-known health economist. Goolsbee is a smart up-and-coming University of Chicago prof and tax policy expert, who's been tight with Obama since they met when Obama was teaching the law school there.

This Chicago Tribune article also lists as part of the Obama economic team Michael Froman, a Citigroup executive and former chief of staff to then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. My guess, however, that Froman's role is more of Wall Street "outreach" than policy advisor.

The other key player in Obamanomics is Karen Kornbluh, Obama's policy director and another former aide to Bob Rubin during the Clinton years. Like the others, Kornbluh is an unthreatening wonk, but I'd place her slightly to the left of Obama's econ trio. (Although her Wikipedia entry lists her as an "economist," the established entry card to the economist priesthood is a Ph.D., which she does not have.) Before working for Obama, Kornbluh spent time at the New American Foundation, which is known for being one of the less conventional of the the DC think tanks, and she has long pushed a "family-friendly progressive agenda." See for example this Atlantic article.

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