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- August 8, 2011

The Team That Designed Obama’s Failed 
Stimulus Continues Its Mass Exodus

"‘I Just Feel Bad The President Has To Stay There.’ — Outgoing White House Economic Adviser Austan Goolsbee On Leaving D.C.” (Caitlin McDevitt, “The Week In One-Liners: T-Paw, Michelle, Cleaver,” Politico’s “44,” 8/5/11)

WITH THE ECONOMY ON THE ROPES, ANOTHER MEMBER OF OBAMA’S ECONOMIC TEAM HAS DEPARTED

“Austan Goolsbee, Head Of The President's Council Of Economic Advisors, Is Returning To His University Of Chicago Post.” (Peter Nicholas, “Obama’s Chief Economic Advisor Resigning,” Los Angeles Times, 6/7/11)

“In The Obama Administration Argot, It Seems, Satisfying The Rules Of Tenure Has Apparently Become The New Version Of ‘Spending More Time With The Family.’” (Peter S. Goodman, William Alden, And Zach Carter, “Austan Goolsbee Exit: Obama Adviser Leaves Behind Frustration, Political Dysfunction,” The Huffington Post, 6/7/11)

“Turnover Within Obama's Economic Team Has Been Heavy.” “Turnover within Obama's economic team has been heavy. Since taking office 2 1/2 years ago, Obama has lost Romer, National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers, budget chief Peter Orszag, and Jared Bernstein, who was Vice President Joe Biden's top economic advisor. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has been in place from the beginning, however.” (Peter Nicholas, “Obama’s Chief Economic Advisor Resigning,” Los Angeles Times, 6/7/11)

Goolsbee Jumps Ship As Recent Economic News Indicated That A “Full Recovery Could Be Years Away.” “Goolsbee's departure comes as a recent spate of troubling economic news is sparking fears that a full recovery could be years away. Unemployment rose to 9.1% in May — its second consecutive monthly increase — and housing prices have dropped to their lowest level since 2002.” (Peter Nicholas, “Obama’s Chief Economic Advisor Resigning,” Los Angeles Times, 6/7/11)

  • Goolsbee Is Leaving The CEA “With The Economy Moribund, No Clear Path To Vigor In Sight And The Unemployment Rate Stubbornly Elevated.” “Austan Goolsbee, one of President Barack Obama's longest serving policy advisers and the chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers, leaves his post pretty much as he inherited it: with the economy moribund, no clear path to vigor in sight and the unemployment rate stubbornly elevated.” (Peter S. Goodman, William Alden, And Zach Carter, “Austan Goolsbee Exit: Obama Adviser Leaves Behind Frustration, Political Dysfunction,” The Huffington Post, 6/7/11)
  • “Goolsbee Assured Reporters That The Stewardship Of The Economy Is Still Strong, Even Though The Original Crew Has All Abandoned Ship.” “On his last day of work at the White House on Friday, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee – one of only two remaining members of the president’s initial economic team – offered reassurance that the stewardship of the economy is still strong, even though the original crew has all abandoned ship.” (Jennifer Epstein, “Goolsbee: Obama Staff Turnover Is OK,” Politico, 8/5/11)

HOW CAN OBAMA FOCUS ON THE ECONOMY WHEN HIS ECONOMIC TEAM IS RUNNING ON A SKELETON STAFF?

Goolsbee Was The “Last Remaining Economist On [Obama’s] Senior Economic Team …” “With Friday’s departure of the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, President Obama has lost the last remaining economist on his senior economic team at a time when the recovery is weakening and the president is trying to devise a strategy to prevent additional economic turmoil.” (Zachary A. Goldfarb, “Obama’s Senior Ranks Thin On Economists As Recovery Falters,” The Washington Post, 8/5/11)

“The Number Of Vacancies In Top Economic Posts Within The Obama Administration [Is] Stunning.” (Damian Paletta, “Geithner Exit Would Add To Vacancies In Top Economic Posts,” The Wall Street Journal’s “Washington Wire”, 7/1/11)

“[A]t Important Positions Within The Administration, There Is Often Quite Literally Nobody On The Job.” (Greg Marx, “Economic Policy-Makers Go MIA,” Columbia Journalism Review, 7/5/11)

On The Obama Economic Team “A Number Of Crucial Vacancies Loom At A Fragile Time For The Financial System.” “If Timothy Geithner steps down as Treasury secretary, it would spotlight an increasingly apparent liability for the Obama administration as it searches for a way out of the economic crisis -- the weakness of its bench on economic and financial services policy, where a number of crucial vacancies loom at a fragile time for the financial system.” (Stacy Kaper and Catherine Hollander, “After Geithner, A Weak Econ Branch,” National Journal, 7/5/11)

As The Last Remaining Member Of Obama’s Orignal Economic Team, Treasury Secretary Geithner Was Under “Intense Pressure” To Remain At His Post, Despite His Desire To Leave

“The White House Has Been Exerting Intense Pressure” On Geithner To Remain At The Treasury Department. “Seeking to prevent a complete turnover on his economic team, the White House has been exerting intense pressure on Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner to stay even though he has told the president he wants to step down.” (Zachary A. Goldfarb, “Obama’s Senior Ranks Thin On Economists As Recovery Falters,” The Washington Post, 8/5/11)

  • Geithner Is The Last Remaining Member Of Obama’s Original Economic Team. “When Obama became president, he tapped economists to fill several major roles. In addition to Summers, he selected Christina Romer, an expert on the Depression, as the head of the Council of Economic Advisers. He took the unusual step of selecting an economist, Peter Orszag, to head the Office of Management and Budget. … Now, with the exception of Geithner, all of those officials are gone.” (Zachary A. Goldfarb, “Obama’s Senior Ranks Thin On Economists As Recovery Falters,” The Washington Post, 8/5/11)
  • Geithner “Had Hoped To Leave After The Conclusion Of The Protracted Debt Ceiling Negotiations …” “Geithner preferred to return to New York City, where his family now resides and where his son is finishing his last year in high school. He also had hoped to leave after the conclusion of the protracted debt ceiling negotiations — and before bruising battles over tax, entitlement and housing reforms resume in earnest this fall.” (Ben White, “Timothy Geithner To Stay At Treasury,” Politico, 8/7/11)

“Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Will Stay At His Post Through The Fall And President Barack Obama’s Reelection Campaign, The Treasury Department Announced Sunday.” (Ben White, “Timothy Geithner To Stay At Treasury,” Politico, 8/7/11)

BEYOND OBAMA’S LACK OF PERSONNEL, HIS POLICIES REMAIN DEEPLY UNPOPULAR AND HAVE DONE LITTLE TO IMPRESS VOTERS

Beyond Losing So Much Of His Economic Team, Obama’s Bigger Problem “Isn’t So Much Personnel As Policy.” “No president likes to lose a trusted confidante — a role Goolsbee played as campaign advisor and then as senior government official. But for Obama, the problem isn't so much personnel as policy.” (Peter Nicholas, “Obama’s Chief Economic Advisor Resigning,” Los Angeles Times, 6/7/11)

The Policies Obama Thought Are His Biggest Accomplishments Remain Deeply Unpopular. “A big hurdle for the president is the unpopularity of the very policies that his team thought would be big accomplishments in the first term. Polls show his economic policy, the health care law and the auto bailout gets positive reviews from fewer than half of voters. Hard to see how that changes.” (Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, “Obama’s Big Drags,” Politico, 8/4/11)

“Economic Growth Never Lived Up To The Expectations” Of The Obama White House. “And because economic growth never lived up to the expectations set early by different White House officials at different times – remember ‘the summer of recovery’? – voters simply don’t have the money or confidence to buy big things like they use to.” (Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, “Obama’s Big Drags,” Politico, 8/4/11)

The White House Is Concerned That The Economy Stands In The Way Of A Second Term, As “One Obama Adviser Conceded, ‘The Numbers Add Up To Defeat.’” “Privately, however, Obama’s team is concerned about the factors beyond its control, talking of an imminent need to retool their economic message and strategy heading into 2012. Absent the president’s ability to defy political gravity, one Obama adviser conceded, ‘The numbers add up to defeat.’” (Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, “Obama’s Big Drags,” Politico, 8/4/11)


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