Lynn Sweet was the first to notice that Jason Furman, late of the Brookings Institution, and then the Kerry-Edwards campaign, and before that an assistant to the president for economic policy in the Clinton administration, has been tapped to be the Obama campaign's new director of economic policy. Furman is an economist, but he's also a commentator and communicator; he specializes in helping campaigns translate complex economic theory into digestable morsels.
He is the author of a well-regarded and much-debate piece for the Center for American Progress arguing that some efforts to pressure Wal-Mart into changing its business practices wind up hurting low-income consumers. He was writing in response to a report by Wal-Mart Watch which noted that Wal-Mart employees are disportionately on the dole; Furman wrote that Wal-Mart's low prices + entitlement programs = a decent standard of living for most low-income Americans, although he concedes that Wal-Mart can and should do much more to help its own workers. In general, Furman appears to be a Keynesian, but as director of the Hamilton Project, he's joined a group that advocates for a balanced budget....over the long term. So Furman might well countenance an expansion of the deficit during a recession. On trade, Furman's positions are well within the Democratic mainstream. (Globalization and trade = good, generally, but American workers have legitimate complaints and the system needs to be configured to deal with and temper the enormous dynamism of a world economy.) He has advocated for a cut in the corporate income tax that would be financed by increasing the number of companies subject to the tax. Sensitive to the campaign's intent to bring in a diverse array of voices on the economy, Furman lists several liberals as co-advisers.
Incidentally, Austan Goolsbee joined Furman on a conference call today. Mr. Goolsbee, evidentally, is out of the doghouse.
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