Austan Goolsbee and the Political Corruption of “Good” Economists

Reason magazine editor Matt Welch has a sobering article on Obama’s newly appointed chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, Austan Goolsbee taking some libertarians to task for their naive belief that Obama’s appointment of potential fellow travelers in the White House might moderate his policies. Many libertarians took heart at Obama’s appointment of very competent professional economists at the start of his Administration. Goolsbee, in particular, was considered a solid, pragmatic choice because any thought he had libertarian leanings and a good academic pedigree as a University of Chicago economist.

In reality, Goolsbee has towed the Obama Administration’s interventionist, spend and spend some more approach to fiscal policy and demonizing those in the private sector that oppose his policies. But, this is inevitable. If someone is appointed to the White House staff, they are working for the president, not as independent spokespersons. Their job is to promote the president’s policies, not their own.

I’ve blogged on the inevitable intellectual corruption of this process before on Out of Control when Christina Romer stepped down (and in earlier posts).