Prominent progressive macroeconomist Christina Romer is stepping down from her job as chief economist for the White House, returning to her family and position as an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley. While working for Obama, she was a chief architect of the stimulus program, a strong advocate for more government spending, and a believer that government should be in the driver’s seat of the economy.
According to the Washington Post:
Romer was instrumental in crafting the $862 billion economic stimulus package that Obama signed shortly after being sworn into office. She co-wrote a paper that predicted the stimulus would prevent unemployment rates from rising above 8 percent, a stance that has come under attack by Republicans who call the package a failure. Though most economists say the stimulus helped prevent a more severe economic crisis, the jobless rate has hovered near 10 percent and Romer’s most recent forecast predicts that it will not drop below 8 percent until the end of 2012.
Respected by her administration colleagues and by Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, Romer was nonetheless frustrated by life in Washington, according to administration sources. After winning swift approval of the stimulus, the administration struggled to push other initiatives through a balky Congress as concern heightened about mounting deficits.
This year, Romer emerged as a strong advocate for additional federal spending to stimulate a sluggish recovery. But her top priority, state aid to preserve teaching and other public-sector jobs, languished for months on Capitol Hill. Slashed by more than half, it won Senate approval Thursday and is headed for final passage next week in the House.
My critiques of the stimulus program and the naive way in which econometrics and economic models have been used to push a progressive political agenda have appeared on Reason’s Out of Control (see my most recent here) as well as a series of articles in the National Review (see here and here for samples).
Frankly, I have found the blatant way in which economists in the current White House have used statistics to push their political agenda, pushing econometric methods beyond their legitimate uses, has significantly diminished the status of the economics profession.