Obama's Economic Advisers

While the political rhetoric spews and folks decide their religion, some of us are looking at the policy beneath. People, it ain't pretty. It appears we have more of the talkin' the talk instead of walkin' the walk rhetoric and the keyword change is now redefined to mean status quo

Obama's Economic Advisers

  • Austan Goolsbee: U. of Chicago neoclassicist and “single payer universal health care critic claiming "it doesn't follow free market principles"
  • David Cutler: Harvard economist who believes that high health costs are good for the economy
  • Jeffrey Liebman: another Harvard economist and former Clinton adviser who favors privatizing social security

From Real Clear Poliitics

Goolsbee, however, says globalization is responsible for "a small fraction" of today's income disparities. He says "60 to 70 percent of the economy faces virtually no international competition." America's 18.5 million government employees have little to fear from free trade; neither do auto mechanics, dentists and many others

So is that to imply that 40% to 30% Americans being negatively affected by globalization is ok? and yes we are offshore outsourcing state and government jobs. Remember Alan Blinder projects that 40M US jobs are vulnerable to global labor arbitrage (offshore outsourcing). I'll assume wage stagnation is being ignored as well in this above quote.

The Nation's article Subprime Obama points out:

Obama's foreclosure plan mostly avoids direct government spending in favor of a tax credit for homeowners, which amounts to about $500 on average, beyond which only certain borrowers would be eligible for help from an additional fund

A tax cut of $500 dollars is supposed to assist people being foreclosed on?

Now look at this quote, again from The Nation, which blames the victim for predatory lenders:

One advantage to the tax credit is that there's no moral hazard involved," one of Obama's economic advisers explains. "There's no sense in which you're rewarding someone for taking too big a risk. If you lied about your income in order to get a bigger mortgage, then you're not qualified. Do you really want to give a subsidy to the guy who wasn't prudent?" Obama has used similar language on the campaign trail. "Innocent homeowners," he has promised, those "responsible" borrowers "facing foreclosure through no fault of their own," would get help restructuring their loans. But no such luck for those "claiming income they didn't have" or "lying to get mortgages.

If Bloomberg thinks privatizing social security is a fresh, new idea and Obama's economic advisers are good for considering privatization, that's an anti-endorsement on Obama for the US national interest and middle class.

From the Wall Street Journal article, Obamanomics

In 2005, he (Obama) voted for a bill making it easier for defendants to move class-action lawsuits into federal court. He explained his vote at the time by saying he didn't want plaintiffs shopping for sympathetic judges, and thought large settlements often benefited the lawyers over the plaintiffs. But the measure was opposed by the Democratic Party's big trial-lawyer backers. California Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who is now speaker of the House, criticized the measure then as an "injustice" to consumers because it would make it harder to bring claims

And a foreboding indicator, hedge fund managers are endorsing Obama:
Financial Times reports:

Another top fund chief backs Obama

Paul Tudor Jones, the wealthy hedge fund manager, has become the latest in a growing band from his profession to throw their weight behind Barack Obama, the US senator vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Mr Jones is said to be planning to host a 500-guest fundraiser for Mr Obama on May 19. The event will be held at Mr Jones’s seaside mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, a big US centre for hedge funds.

This blog points out a previous agenda to privatize social security by association to the Obama advisers. I won't go as far as this blog implies after review, I'll say a partial privatization plan, a privatization supplement to maybe a full out path, but the point is, these sorts of private retirement savings accounts are being considered for social security.

Below is a long video, but the most detailed video debate I could find on candidates true economic positions. It is a debate between campaign's economic advisers, held by the The New American Foundation and well worth watching.:

Obama's economic adviser, Goolsbee states our current trade agreements are simply not free trade theory and are pages and pages of corporate requested loopholes. That's quite true. Now will Goolsbee recognize they also are not in the US national interest or working America's interests?



More on 'Obama's 3 Right-Wing Economists'


I personally think obama has some good minds working for him unlike what we've had in the past.

Obama & Social Security

From Obama's website:

Obama does support adding on savings accounts for the lower income groups to encourage national retirement savings by those that need it most

i.e. partial privatization.

Now, his economic adviser's plan on his Academic website:

Jeffrey Liebman, who again, is an economic adviser to Obama.

Thus an important goal for retirement policy should be to encourage all workers to accumulate sufficient individual savings so that the combination of Social Security and private nest egg allows them to maintain their standard of living during retirement. Proposals to introduce personal retirement accounts as part of Social Security can be seen as an attempt to deal with this second challenge

Second, we agreed to add enough new revenue to maintain currently promised retirement income levels, but we devoted all of the new revenue to personal retirement accounts equal to 3 percent of payroll for every worker

Fourth, we agreed to have personal retirement accounts in the plan, but the accounts were heavily regulated. So, in particular, they would be mandatory and when you get to retirement, you would be required to take out all your money in the form of an annuity a payment that lasts as long as you live. This ensures that people cannot squander all of their savings in the first few years of retirement.

Sure looks like partial privatization of social security to me.

Obama's Economic Advisers

Liebman is arguing for an "add on" private retirement count, which would be in addition to Social Security. This is what Bill Clinton proposed as well. It is not privatization. No current funds dedicated to Social Security would go to the new accounts.

This is very different from the "carve out" program of partial privatization that the Republicans have pushed. You can find discussion of how these are differ in a billion places on the web.

Anyway, Obama's not proposing this. This was an idea that Liebman worked up a few years ago.iY

right on his website

as I link to it. It's right there, additional private savings accounts for low income people. I'm sorry but I am not the only one noticing this, Bloomberg is (as I link to them) reviews it in detail and many other blogs.

Private savings accounts are privatization, that's a cornerstone of privatization. As noted as I repeatedly point out Obama's economic advisers and obviously Obama himself are presenting a hybrid or a partial privatization.

It's the "P" word by definition.


Just because Bill's ex-economic adviser proposed something doesn't make it a good idea....for to note Bill switched on NAFTA and even much much worse, pushed for the China PNTR and WTO. The China trade agreement never gets any mention and it has to be the most biased trade agreement in the pack (against the US).

Hillary is not Bill to differentiate further.


And Hillary?

This is a really interesting, if not exactly encouraging, post. What's the profile for HRC's economic team? Does either candidate have the edge (on matters economic) from the progressive perspective?

it's very tough

over on NoSlaves.com blog are two comparison contrast pieces on trade and higher education.
Two I've found:
Gene Sperling
Sperling is CAP (Center for American Progress)
Congressman Barney Frank
Frank has a long voting record in Congress on the Finance Committee

NYTimes article some useful info.

Democracy Now. has the best interview piece as an overview I've found.

I've found others but they talk about Bill's economic advisers and I'm not so sure if Hillary has actually hired those for her campaign. It's unclear and that's a real issue to figure out which ones she is actually using in her campaign to craft policy positions.

If you find something telling please post.

Urban Institute Analysis

Matching Private Savings with Federal Dollars (1999), not specific to these exact proposals, gives a little more insight into the idea of private savings accounts.

Their conclusion:

A lingering question is whether a 401(k)-type plan design is sensible when the target population consists of low- and very low income workers, as is the case with the two Social Security-based proposals. Incentives provided by matching contributions will be successful only if workers can afford to take advantage of them, and many low- and very low income workers cannot or do not. Perhaps federal resources would be better spent on direct subsidies for the poor in retirement than on a complicated incentive program that may produce only a marginal increase in savings. It might also be better to target savings incentives to those who can afford to save and are motivated to respond. With these considerations in mind, a federal 401(k) approach has some merit, but creating a stand-alone federal program does not. One alternative to consider is subsidizing contributions into IRAs and other 401(k)-type plans while providing very similar rules for taxing contributions and benefits. This would preserve the savings incentives that are the essence of these proposals while reducing their complexity and cost

update on economic advisers

Obama has put into place the Jason Furman, a Robert Rubin clone and involved with the Hamilton project as his head economic adviser.

What does this mean? Well, more bad trade deals and not a hell of a lot for working America.

To give a real life example, here is his paper on how Wal-mart, the notorious squeezer of other retailers, multiple class action lawsuits against it for unpaid wages and sex discrimination and our portal to China increasing their exports to the US...

he thinks all of that is just fine and daddy.


I am woefully unimpressed by Obama’s $120 billion economic stimulus plan. It’s primarily tax cuts, the Republican way.I would note that his policy is not surprising given that Obama's economic advisers are all wingers.


In an ideal world, complete cooperation between different countries creates roads paved with gold, leading to a global utopia. But, historically, and in the real world, human nature and nationalism seem to return individual country's to a goal of self interest and national security. Rogue leaders and unexpected events, such as Putin and Georgia ... Iran, atomic bombs, terrorists and Israel ... Chavez's ambitions ... Al Quada ... Chinese expansion ... etc., always seem to upset the international apple cart of idealists. In addition, we should not take for granted our 200+ year experiment of freedom and capitalism, and be so willing to gamble it away for a socialistic notion which stifles the individual innovation and initiative which made this country great ... and a standard of living which makes everyone around the world want to live here! And, since many have decided to also make this a partisan political discourse, by assuring us that Obama, the messiah, has all the answers, allow me to respond to that as well. Obama has no experience, or credentials. When given the chance in the senate, Obama did nothing except to show up and vote present 160 times. Despite his flowery speeches, his track record reveals a focus on personal ambition, associations with anti-American racists and terrorists, massive flip flopping, questionable loyalty to political positions and long time friends, a desire for socialism, and forced redistribution of America's wealth. He casually promises everyone a chicken in every pot, even if it is the chicken that lays America's golden eggs. Economics 101 ... Every farmer knows that even if you get real hungry, you never eat the seed crop. One of the reasons McCain keeps going back to the issue of character is because although Obama makes great speeches, if his character and integrity are questionable, it doesn't matter how good his plans sound. Policies and promises from an ambitious politician who can't be trusted, are equivalent to building a utopian sky scrapper on a rotten foundation.
P.S. Today Obama talked about more jobs, something McCain has been insisting on since day one ... except Obama wants to raise taxes to the very people who provide jobs, while McCain wants to cut taxes to businesses as a way to promote jobs


has talked about offshore outsourcing jobs. He wants to increase guest worker Visas, turn our university system into a glorified green card machine and do more bad trade agreements.

Obama wants to do the same thing and is even worse, if that's possible, in displacing US workers with cheaper foreign labor...which we know of all countries pressuring the US in this area, it is India, who are completely focused on dominating the services industry, focus on professional services.

I will give you that McCain did present a plan to give more R&D tax credits for jobs created in the United States, quite a while ago. It stood out to me as strange, wondering if some Progressive had sneaked something into his economic plans, which usually amount to giving even more tax cuts to the super rich.

So, Tweedledum, Tweedledee.

This site is officially non-partisan, with the hope all can focus on what really works and not get caught up in philosophies such as something being bad because it is socialist.

Considering just how economically competitive socialist nations are...when it's all done right, the results do not match the rhetoric.

Let's all stick to the real policy positions, real results on real people of those policies and get our heads out of the political fray.

Privatized SS? Didn't this get tried before?

Well, it didn't work out so well under Bush. Regardless of whether or not it happens to go into effect under Obama, the Social Security system is in need of a massive overhaul - we are not going to be able to afford all the baby boomers when they start drawing their SS. Social Security was something on the order of about 15 - 20 years from overdrawing, which is a long ball estimate, and Medicare and Medicaid were ten years or less from over extension. Even if we manage to privatize Social Security or mandate that all funds withdrawn from pay will be withdrawn and held in an savings only account for only that person, there is still a massive gap that is going to have to be made up at one point or another. Even if the Bush plan had succeeded, and SS payments had gone into a government held 401k, it still would have tanked during the stock market slump. Beyond just a privately held savings account that you can't touch until age 65, there isn't a whole lot we can really do with Social Security. We may have to just pitch the whole thing.

I'm tempted

But I'll just restrict my comment to the fact that we could have had 25 million more native citizen workers born and graduated from high school by now, had we kept up the pre-1973 birth practices that Social Security worker-to-retiree ratios were based on.

Maximum jobs, not maximum profits.