President Obama has chosen a leading labor economist, Princeton professor Alan Krueger, to head his White House economics team. By tapping Krueger, who served as the Treasury Department’s secretary for economic policy and chief economist from 2009-2010, the president sought to highlight the urgency of jump-starting the nation’s fragile economy.
“Alan brings a wealth of experience to the job. He’s one of the nation’s leading economists,” the president said in a press conference. “I have nothing but confidence in Alan as he takes on this important role in my economic team.”
Krueger, 50, started teaching at Princeton University in 1987 after completing his Ph. D. at Harvard University. His research included job growth, the effects of increases in the minimum wage and the difficulties experienced by the long-term unemployed.
If confirmed, Krueger would be the president’s third chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, following Christina Romer and Austan Goolsbee. Goolsbee left the White House this summer to continue his economics professorship at University of Chicago.
The president stressed in his press conference that he anticipates and expects Krueger to offer economic guidance that is not driven by partisan politics.
“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,” said the president.
New Jobs Initiative on the Way
Obama’s nomination sets the tone for the upcoming weeks, as the administration prepares to release a new jobs initiative after the Labor Day holiday. During his press conference, the president signaled his intention to focus on reviving the stagnant economy.
“Next week I will be laying out a series of steps that Congress can take immediately to put more money in the pockets of working families, middle-class families,” he said.
The economy continues to struggle as growth remains tepid. Economic indicators suggest that the country could experience a double-dip recession without any improvements in the country's financial health.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who last week assured the president that he will stay in his post through the next election, offered significant praise for Krueger.
“He is one of the most distinguished” people to serve as assistant secretary for economic policy, Geithner said. “Given his expertise in labor economics, he is precisely the right choice to lead the CEA at this moment in history.”
The nation’s economy is sure to be the dominant issue as campaigns heat up for the 2012 general election.