Monday, January 7, 2013

Paul Krugman for Secretary of the Treasury?


I'm a fan of Nobel-Prize winning economist and NYT writer Paul Krugman. He is also author of great books like The Conscience of a Liberal, The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future, and End This Depression Now!. He's a force to be reckoned with in the world of economics - few can match his breadth of knowledge, or his willingness to be outspoken. Did I mention he is anti-austerity? Yeah, that's good, too.

Now there's a petition started by actor Danny Glover asking President Obama to seriously consider him for Secretary of Treasury to replace out-going Wall Street guy, Tim Geithner, who is like the anti-Krugman.

As of right now the petition has 208,755 signatures out of the 225,000 that was the original goal. That's huge! And yes, I signed it, too, because I want to join others in sending a message to President Obama that picking another Wall Street insider might not be the most creative idea in the world, or the best thing for our country.

Petition at Sign-On.Org
We urge you to nominate Paul Krugman for Treasury Secretary. Krugman will protect Social Security and Medicare from benefit cuts, promote policies to create jobs, and help defeat the austerity dogma in Washington and around the world.
Petition Background
Press reports say President Obama will soon nominate a new Treasury Secretary . Press speculation has centered on candidates likely to support the Wall Street agenda of cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits and other domestic spending rather than government policies to create jobs. We want President Obama to nominate Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who opposes austerity and wants the government to focus on creating jobs.

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., on why this is a good idea:
Krugman has been right about the major problems facing our economy, where many other economists and much of the business press have been wrong. A few examples: he wrote about the housing bubble before it collapsed and caused the Great Recession; he has forecast and explained that large budget deficits and trillions of dollars of "quantitative easing" (money creation) would not cause inflation or long-term interest rates to rise; and that the "confidence fairies" would not reward governments that pursued austerity in the face of recession.
Most importantly, Krugman is on the side of the majority of Americans. He has written extensively in favor of policies that favor job creation, explained the folly of budget cutting in the face of a weak economy, and opposes cuts to social security and Medicare benefits.
. . . since most of Wall Street's money went to Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the run-up to the November election, Obama doesn't owe anything to the people who crashed our economy and are now fighting to make senior citizens, working and poor people reduce their living standards.

Krugman has responded that maybe he does more for the country playing devil's advocate as the "Outside Man" on the New York Times:
Part of the reason is that I am indeed the World’s Worst Administrator — and that does matter. Someone else can do the paperwork — but an administrative job requires making hiring and firing decisions, it means keeping track of many things, and that, to say the least, is not my forte.
Oh, and there’s not a chance that I would be confirmed.
But the main point, as I see it, is that it would mean taking me out of a quasi-official job that I believe I’m good at and putting me into one I’d be bad at.
So first of all, let’s talk frankly about the job I have. The New York Times isn’t just some newspaper somewhere, it’s the nation’s paper of record. As a result, being an op-ed columnist at the Times is a pretty big deal — one I’m immensely grateful to have been granted — and those who hold the position, if they know how to use it effectively, have a lot more influence on national debate than, say, most senators. Does anyone doubt that the White House pays attention to what I write?

He's got a point about the confirmation, but then again, Obama can get things through Congress that few Presidents can. And the GOP might rather have someone who is a true liberal, someone they can bash daily, unlike Geithner who was a more low-profile Wall Street insider and therefore respected by the GOP as pro-business. Hey - that's another good reason to choose Krugman!

I think it's time to give Krugman a shot to actually work in the Administration instead of being their most vocal economic critic. I signed the petition because I think Krugman is right up there with Elizabeth Warren in his understanding of real Americans, and he cares more about the social safety net than Wall Street.

I am curious how Obama will respond to this. If he thinks Krugman isn't right for Treasury, then heck - make up a new post for him where he can help people! Put him in, Coach!

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