We are pleased that President Obama has nominated Jason Furman, currently the principal deputy director of the National Economic Council, for the position of Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Although we often disagree with the administration’s policies and differ with Jason on a number of issues, we respect him as a superb analytical economist. If the Senate confirms his nomination to be the president’s chief economic adviser, we are confident that he will serve the president and the nation with distinction.
The CEA’s essential function is to provide straightforward and unvarnished economic analysis to the president and others in the administration. Jason Furman’s history of writing and research indicate that he would do just this — he would bring to the Council of Economic Advisers the willingness to say “that’s a bad idea” or to spell out inconvenient economic realities. Jason Furman’s policy preferences are clearly in line with President Obama’s, but he recognizes that market mechanisms are the key element in raising living standards. He has written on the importance of fiscal discipline, the need to undertake entitlement reform sooner rather than later, the role of international trade in improving living standards, and the benefits of Wal-Mart in boosting living standards for low-income Americans. He has been a key proponent of the idea to change the tax treatment of employer provided health care.
Jason Furman has always been willing to work with economists of all ideological persuasions. He is familiar at AEI from his participation at events and even as a co-author with a host of AEI scholars.
We have considerable disagreements with President Obama’s economic policies and no doubt will have differences with his future economic agenda. We are confident, however, that Jason Furman, if confirmed as CEA chair, will provide President Obama with advice that presents both the advantages and disadvantages of the policy proposals under consideration.