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Washington Matters

Obama's Economics: Can Old Dogs Do New Tricks?

Barack Obama spends a lot of energy making sure voters know he's all about change and that he isn't just a black male version of Clinton. He even picked Elizabeth Edwards, not Hillary, to be his key adviser on health care. But his choice for chief economics adviser is a protege of the chief architect of Clinton administration economic policy. What kind of change does that represent?


Jason Furman, 37, has been ensconced at the Hamilton Project, a think tank economic policy group founded by Bob Rubin. You remember Rubin: He's the silver-haired patrician who was at the helm of Citigroup when its stock imploded amid the housing market crisis. Of course, he was also tapped by Bill Clinton in 1993 to become chief of the now defunct National Economic Council and later to be Treasury Secretary.  


In addition to working with Rubin, Furman engineered economic policy for the failed John Kerry presidential campaign in 2004. Is there such a dearth of talent in the world of dismal scientists who want to sign onto charismatic political candidates? Apparently, for help on his economic platform now that Hillary has conceded, Obama is dipping deep into the Clinton well of econ advisers. Besides Furman, we get Alan Blinder, former Federal Reserve member and staunch Clinton supporter, and Larry Summers, who succeeded Rubin at Treasury for Clinton and then went onto a brief and ill-fated term as president of Harvard University. No doubt Hillary remembers why Summers left that job after his inappropriate public comments on girls and their innate inability to master math.