In a midmorning speech in the Rose Garden to announce his intention to nominate Alan Krueger to chair his Council of Economic Advisors, President Obama hyped his response to Hurricane Irene before he tackled the topic at hand.
“This morning we’re continuing to deal with the impact and aftermath of Hurricane Irene,” he began. “As I said yesterday, folks are going to have all the help they need as they begin to assess and repair the damage left by the storm and that’s going to continue in the days ahead. It’s going to take time to recover from a storm of this magnitude. … Our response continues, but I’m going to make sure FEMA and other agencies are doing everything in their power to help people on the ground.”
The president then spun to the subject that occasioned the speech.
“Even as we deal with this crisis of the moment,” he said, “our great ongoing challenge as a nation remains how to get this economy growing faster.”
That challenge, the president said, encompasses the need to create a climate in which “more businesses can post job listings,” “folks can find work to relieve the financial challenge they’re feeling” and “families can regain a sense of economic security in their lives.”
“That’s our urgent mission and that’s what I’m fighting for every single day,” he said. “That’s why today I’m very pleased to nominate Alan Krueger to chair the Council of Economic Advisors.”
Krueger, a labor economist and member of Princeton’s faculty, served as assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy during the first two years of the Obama administration. He favors “a future consumption tax to fix today’s economy,” as well as a higher minimum wage, which his research purports to demonstrate does not depress employment. He was also one of the minds behind the Cash for Clunkers program.
“Alan brings a wealth of experience to the job,” Obama said this morning. “He’s one of the nation’s leading economists. For more than 20 years, he has studied and developed economic policy both inside and outside the government.”
The president also repeated his “put country before party” theme as he explained the importance of the Council of Economic Advisors.
“I rely on the Council of Economic Advisors to provide unvarnished analysis and recommendations not based on politics, not based on narrow interests, but based on the best evidence, based on what’s going to do the most good for the most people in this country,” he said. “That’s more important than ever right now. We need folks in Washington to make decisions based on what’s best for the country not what’s best for any political party or special interest. That’s how we’ll get through this period of economic uncertainty and that’s the only way we’ll be able to do what’s necessary to grow the economy. So, it’s that spirit that I’m going to be calling upon in the coming days.”
He’ll be “calling upon it,” of course, with a much-anticipated jobs speech, which he claims will contain “bipartisan ideas that ought to be the kind of proposals that everybody can get behind.” The proposals he hinted at today, however, sounded like nothing new, as he emphasized the need to return money to the pockets of middle-class families (i.e. payroll tax cut extension) and to employ construction workers in the improvement of the nation’s roads, bridges, railroads and airports (i.e. infrastructure bank). Perhaps if he repeats his proposals often enough, they’ll become “bipartisan ideas” that “everybody can get behind.” That certainly seems to be his strategy.