Nice non-work if you can get it

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Michelle Malkin

Of­fi­cial motto of the White House eco­nomic team: Those who can, do. Those who can’t, fan­ta­size in the class­room, fail in Wash­ing­ton and then re­turn to the Ivy Tower to train the next gen­er­a­tion of eg­ghead eco­nomic sabo­teurs. Life is good for left-wing aca­demics. Ev­ery­one else pays dearly.

Take Aus­tan Gools­bee, please. Pres­i­dent Obama’s “fresh-faced” Univer­sity of Chicago econ pro­fes­sor ar­rived in Wash­ing­ton in De­cem­ber 2008 to fill two slots: chief econ­o­mist/staff di­rec­tor of the pres­i­dent’s Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery Ad­vi­sory Board and mem­ber of the Coun­cil of Eco­nomic Ad­vis­ers. In Septem­ber 2010, he re­placed CEA head and fel­low aca­demic Christina Romer, who re­treated to the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley last Au­gust when un­em­ploy­ment hit 9.5 per­cent. (She in­fa­mously pro­jected that the Obama stim­u­lus would hold the job­less rate be­low 8 per­cent.)

Gools­bee’s pri­mary task: trans­lat­ing all of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s big-gov­ern­ment the­o­ries for us dum­mies. As Gools­bee put it to his univer­sity’s stu­dent news­pa­per: “We’ve cer­tainly seen in pre­vi­ous crises that it’s quite im­por­tant to ex­plain things to non-ex­perts. The Amer­i­can peo­ple can con­front any chal­lenge if they’re com­fort­able with the ap­proach.”

And what ex­actly was the na­ture of Gools­bee’s vaunted ex­per­tise? Mak­ing money as a busi­ness res­cue-and-re­cov­ery ex­pert with­out ever hav­ing had to meet a pay­roll.

Gools­bee, the 15th wealth­i­est mem­ber of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, has raked in as­sets val­ued at be­tween $1,146,000 and $2,715,000. He also pulled in a Univer­sity of Chicago salary of $465,000 and ad­di­tional wages and hon­o­raria worth $93,000, ac­cord­ing to Wash­ing­to­nian mag­a­zine. As I’ve noted be­fore, the gov­ern­ment re­search fel­low and Obama cam­paign ad­viser was a cham­pion of ex­tend­ing credit to the un-cred­it­wor­thy. In a 2007 op-ed for The New York Times, he de­rided those who called sub­prime mort­gages “ir­re­spon­si­ble.” He pre­ferred to de­scribe them as “in­no­va­tions in the mort­gage mar­ket” to ex­pand the pool of home­buy­ers.

Gools­bee’s most re­cent “in­no­va­tion”: the “White House White Board,” a weekly video lec­ture teach­ing ev­ery­one else how to hitch what re­mains of Amer­ica’s free-mar­ket sys­tem to the wagon of the state and how much (or rather, how lit­tle) we should make do­ing it. He illustrated his grand in­ter­ven­tion­ist strat­egy to pick and choose “Startup Amer­ica” win­ners by draw­ing a trough of bro­ken light bulbs (sym­bol­iz­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial ideas) pil­ing up in a “Val­ley of Death” be­cause they lacked gov­ern­ment sup­port.

A com­i­cal choice of im­agery given the Democrats’ en­vi­ronutty ban on in­can­des­cent bulbs. But I di­gress.

When Gools­bee joined Team Obama, the un­em­ploy­ment rate was at around 6 per­cent. When he an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion on June 6, the job­less rate stood at 9.1 per­cent. Romer and Jared Bern­stein (for­mer chief econ­o­mist to Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden) had pre­dicted un­em­ploy­ment would drop ev­ery sin­gle

When Gools­bee joined Team Obama, the un­em­ploy­ment rate was at around 6 per­cent. When he an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion, the job­less rate stood at 9.1 per­cent. Romer and Jared Bern­stein (for­mer chief econ­o­mist to Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden) had pre­dicted un­em­ploy­ment would drop ev­ery sin­gle month af­ter Au­gust 2009 due to the Obama stim­u­lus.

month af­ter Au­gust 2009 due to the Obama stim­u­lus. Bern­stein bailed on the ad­min­is­tra­tion in April 2011 for the sanc­tu­ary of a lib­eral think-tank. He’ll also now ply his failed wares as a fi­nan­cial pun­dit.

These hap­less com­mand-and­con­trol ide­o­logues were pre­ceded by Peter Orszag, who hung his “Mis­sion Ac­com­plished” banner over the White House bud­get of­fice in June 2010 af­ter fewer than two years on the job, and by for­mer Na­tional Eco­nomic Coun­cil head and hedge fund man­ager Larry Sum­mers, who was caught sleep­ing on the job, lit­er­ally, more than once dur­ing his brief ten­ure.

Sum­mers packed his bags in Septem­ber.

He was fol­lowed by Prince­ton eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor and for­mer top Obama Trea­sury Depart­ment of­fi­cial Alan Krueger in Oc­to­ber 2010.

White House aides have lamented that the eco­nomic team is “ex­hausted.” Ap­par­ently, Obama is tired of hear­ing from them, too. The Hill news­pa­per re­ports that he has stopped re­ceiv­ing daily eco­nomic brief­ings that were once treated with the same emer­gency sta­tus as na­tional se­cu­rity brief­ings. So, the cen­tral plan­ners con­tinue to be paid to fail, while their boss looks the other way at the de­struc­tion, whistling into what he calls Amer­ica’s tem­po­rary “head winds.”

Nice non-work if you can get it.

Michelle Malkin is the au­thor of “Cul­ture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies” (Reg­n­ery 2010).

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