Sacrificing an Economic Adviser
By Arnold Kling
It seems the Barack Obama campaign is distancing itself from Austan Goolsbee, who is indeed a first-rate economist…Which kinds of advisers will flourish best in a “message consistency” environment? Independent and critical minds, able and willing to speak the truth to power?
My view is that it does not take much for an economic adviser to become expendable. In a world of close substitutes, if the cost of one goes up a tad, you pick another.
If Goolsbee freelanced up in Canada, then it’s easy to see why you might want to let him go. (Another scenario is that he “took one for the team,” in which case you still let him go, but he is more of a hero for it.)
I think if I were in an advisory position, I could understand the desirability of remaining inconspicuous. There is mostly downside for the politician in having his or her economic advisers make headlines. I think I would be ok with message discipline in that sense.
What I couldn’t handle would be telling a whopper in public in order to support the President’s decisions. “These steel tariffs actually are in the interest of consumers…”
I couldn’t say something like that without my nose getting long, or, more realistically, just breaking out with a case of the giggles.
Megan worries that it shows that Obama is not so committed to free trade.
To which I cannot respond any more eloquently than Glenn Reynolds.
Either Obama’s anti-NAFTA talk is a ruse to fool the rubes, or his coterie of distinguished economic experts is a ruse to fool a different batch of rubes.