Megan McArdle has written a retrospective of outgoing Council of Economic Advisors chair Austan Goolsbee for the Atlantic, portraying Goolsbee as a truthteller who was never able to commit to fully engaging in intra-White House politics.
The tone of the piece suggests that Goolsbee doesn’t consider his short CEA tenure much of a success. In a way, that’s problematic for the White House, because you couldn’t have grown a better CEA chair for Obama in a lab, in certain ways. As a professor at the University of Chicago — the intellectual seat of free-market economics — Goolsbee was perfectly positioned to give centrist credibility to ideas that would move U.S. policy to the left. And no economist was better prepared to convince the public of the administration’s arguments — he won a national award for extemporaneous speaking in high school. The success of his “White House White Board” videos speaks to that.
We’ll see who Obama chooses as Goolsbee’s replacement. But it’s unlikely to be anyone better suited to advance the football for liberals.