The Return of Austan-Power to the Obama Transition

Two advisers to Barack Obama, Austan Goolsbee and Samantha Powers, had their roles diminished during the campaign, but Austan and Powers are now back.

Goolsbee made some comments on trade policy during the campaign which some believe Barack Obama objected to, and more recently some writers such as Megan McArdle believed he was being thrown overboard. Late last week Obama announced that Goosbee will be heading his Economic Recovery Advisory Board along with being a member of his Council of Economic Advisers. The Chicago Tribune describes Goolsbee:

Goolsbee is a rising star in a generation of academic economists fluent in important new research about how policy and human behavior intermix…

When it comes to ideology, Goolsbee is widely considered an outlier at an institution long viewed as a monolith of right-leaning free-market economics. The school itself played up his left-leaning ways by staging debates between Goolsbee and Randall Kroszner, who served in the administration of President George W. Bush and is now a Fed governor.

But for all his showmanship, colleagues say Goolsbee is a smart, pragmatic centrist who has an abiding respect for free markets and the power of data to reveal economic behavior. What he brings to the Obama campaign is not liberal ideology but a willingness to challenge orthodoxy—free market or otherwise.

When talking about Obama’s platform on trade, for instance, Goolsbee insists that the president-elect has a deep commitment to free markets. But he also recognizes that classic free-trade theory doesn’t account for consequences like job loss.

Samantha Power was forced to resign from the campaign in March for calling Hillary Clinton a monster. AP reports that Power is back:

State Department officials said Friday that Samantha Power is among foreign policy experts the president-elect’s office selected to help the incoming administration prepare for Clinton’s anticipated nomination as secretary of state.

The Obama transition team’s Web site includes Power’s name as one of 14 members of the “Agency Review Team” for the State Department.

It will be interesting to see if Power is given a position in the State Department should Hillary Clinton be named Secretary of State.

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