Well, well—I see from the Twitterverse that Council of Economic Adviser Chairman Alan Krueger is going back to Princeton, to be replaced Jason Furman. That’s a great choice—Jason will make an excellent CEA chair.
Even though economic policy isn’t going anywhere fast these days given Congressional gridlock, the CEA chair is an important post. S/he is the public face of the administration when important data are released—think jobs day—and, at least in my limited experience, the CEA chair spends a fair bit of quality time with the POTUS, interpreting the economy and explaining the impacts of administration policy.
The CEA chair also can be highly influential in moving policy, as Alan was on the minimum wage and UI extensions, Christy Romer on the Recovery Act, and Glenn Hubbard on the Bush tax cuts.
I’ve worked closely with Jason, and there are few economists I can think of who both get macro (which is to say, see it the way I do) and have such a deep, granular knowledge of federal economic and fiscal policy, in no small part because he’s played a role in shaping those policies since the Clinton years. This is a guy who can hold forth on the history of the tiers of the unemployment insurance system as well as the exemptions in the corporate tax code, including the Senators who snuck them in there.
Roughly speaking, I’d describe the values of Furmanomics thusly:
–Progressive taxation that raises ample revenue;
–Boosting efficiencies and squeezing out inefficiencies in the tax code and the health care system;
–Solidly Keynesian in recession (he was ally in those arguments back in the day);
–Crafting policies with a clear eye to implementation constraints (something you only develop from pretty long experience in the gov’t sector);
–Strong supporter of the safety net (see here, e.g., re the little-known Furman effect).
My only critical thought is this: Jason’s currently a deputy at the National Economic Council, where he’s been ever since Obama took office, and (I think) where he worked in the Clinton years. If he’s speedily confirmed, as he should be, it would be good to infuse the econ team over there with some new blood, someone whose name doesn’t jump to mind as a former Clinton or Obama operative.