Romer resigns from Obama WH post

Christine Romer will resign from her position as chief of Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers effective September 3rd. The White House says she wants to return to her previous career as an academic for family reasons; the AP reports that it has more to do with a conflict between Romer and Larry Summers about who gets the President’s ear on economic policy.  Either way, Romer leaves a mark on this administration of failure that won’t be easily removed:

Christina Romer, one of President Barack Obama’s most pivotal economic advisers, is resigning, a change that comes as the White House struggles to show signs of clear economic gains to a hurting nation.

She will return to her job as a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. The White House cast the decision as an unsurprising one driven by family reasons; in a statement, Obama said Romer has long wanted to return to California, where her son will be starting high school in the fall.

Romer has been one of the administration’s most prominent voices on the economy, making frequent appearances on television and at White House events to promote Obama’s policies. Her resignation comes as the White House labors to convince the public that the economy is on the right track amid near-double digit unemployment. …

Romer’s resignation came amid a report that she had been frustrasted that she didn’t have as much access to the president as LarrySummers, director of the White House National Economic Council. One administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal relations at the White House, played down that notion, noting that Romer met with the president daily to chart the government’s response to the financial meltdown. The official said Romer and Summers often emerged as strong allies.

Romer’s legacy will probably mostly focus on the Porkulus chart that argued for a $775 billion stimulus package and predicted it would hold the unemployment rate at 8% or below.  The updated chart shows just how well Romer guessed in January 2009:

Romer also played a big role in botching the future deficits projection last year, missing the mark by $2 trillion.  King Banaian showed the arbitrary (and unsupportable) assumptions that went into Romer’s initial figures, and the lame excuses that followed their exposure.  Romer made a career in this administration of making unsupportable claims and bad bets, and she should have resigned a year ago over that amateurish episode.

That makes two key members of Obama’s economic team to depart this summer.  Peter Orszag, the budget director who couldn’t spot Romer’s $2 trillion error and who presided over the biggest deficit expansion in modern history, hit the road for family obligations earlier.  With approval ratings on the economy for Obama and Democrats crashing while unemployment skyrockets, it looks as though the White House wants to clean house and argue for a fresh start just before the midterms.  Until that “fresh start” begins to reduce spending, taxes, and regulatory burdens, though, the composition of Obama’s economic team isn’t going to make any difference at all.