In the middle of a weak U.S. economic recovery, President Obama has named a new chairman for his Council of Economic Advisers. Princeton University economist Alan Krueger will be tasked with finding ways to boost anemic economic growth and combat stubbornly high U.S. unemployment.
The last year has seen a string of high-profile departures from President Obama’s economic team, including two heads of the Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer and Austan Goolsbee, and the director of the National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers.
On Monday, Obama sought to reinvigorate that team with the addition of Alan Krueger.
“He [Krueger] is one of the nation’s leading economists. For more than two decades, he has studied and developed economic policy both inside and outside of government," said Obama. "In the first two years of this administration, as we were dealing with the effects of a complex and fast-moving financial crisis, a crisis that threatened a second Great Depression, Alan’s counsel as chief economist at the Treasury Department proved invaluable.”
Krueger returned to Princeton University last year after serving as assistant Treasury secretary.
The president said he will rely on Krueger and other advisers to provide what he termed “unvarnished” analysis and recommendations to boost America’s weak economy.
Obama is expected to unveil a set of economic and fiscal proposals next week, when Congress returns from a month-long recess. Speaking from the White House Rose Garden with Krueger at his side, the president gave a brief preview of what he will propose.
“I will be laying out a series of steps that Congress can take immediately to put more money in the pockets of working families and middle-class families, to make it easier for small businesses to hire people, to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s roads and railways and airports,” he said.
If confirmed by the Senate, Krueger would become President Obama’s third chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Other leading economists spoke highly of the president’s decision, including Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who served as economic adviser to 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain.
“He [Krueger] is an absolutely first-rate economist," he said. "The things he can do will be to get the president to take steps toward a far more broad and differently focused jobs agenda. They are going to need someone with creativity. Alan has that.”
Holtz-Eakin spoke on Bloomberg Television.
Obama began his remarks with a promise of robust federal efforts to help more than a dozen U.S. states recover from Hurricane Irene, which drenched New York and parts of New England as a tropical storm Sunday after devastating mid-Atlantic coastal areas.