NEWS

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October 10, 2007

How much clout does Austan Goolsbee really have?

In case you missed it, George F. Will, never one hand out undeserved compliments to democrats, wrote glowingly of U of C GSB professor--and Barack Obama adviser--Austan Goolsbee in last Thursday's Washington Post. His conclusion:

Goolsbee no doubt has lots of dubious ideas -- he is, after all, a Democrat -- about how government can creatively fiddle with the market's allocation of wealth and opportunity. But he seems to be the sort of person -- amiable, empirical and reasonable -- you would want at the elbow of a Democratic president, if such there must be.
The column doesn't really delve into Goolsbee's relationship with Obama, and the important question of what an Obama economic policy would look like, though. (Taking a much different stance than Will, Alec argued last spring that Goolsbee's advice will inevitably lose out to salient political issues should Obama win the presidency).For a clearer picture of the role academics have in presidential campaigns, the Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent piece in its latest issue, focusing on another member of Obama's brain trust, Samantha Power. I found this part particularly telling:
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton... "seems to rely on a group of trusted associates who have been with her for a long time. She seems to be open to information and to have a good grasp of policy details, but for other reasons, having to do with her history with the news media, she seems to have somewhat constrained avenues of access." Senator Obama, meanwhile, "seems to be all about hearing a variety of opinions," Mr. Kowert says. "And the way this has played out is what one would expect. He's been criticized for not having been quite well enough managed on certain issues that have hurt him.
This reflects well on Obama, to be sure, but should also cause anyone who expects his economic policy to mirror that of Goolsbee to think twice.