White House Resorts to White Board to Explain Tax Cuts

Austan Goolsbee breaks out the smelly markers

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On Thursday, the White House released its first White House Whiteboard, a new video series explaining the administration's position on various policy issues. This first edition starred Austan Goolsbee, new chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Goolsbee explained the administration's position on the Bush tax cuts using colored circles on a dry-erase board. Comparisons to Glenn Beck aside, Goolsbee's debut has won approval for showing, as Larry Summers never quite did, how to communicate the administration's economic ideas.

  • Goolsbee Does 'His Best Glenn Beck Impression'  Goolsbee "was always a better communicator than a bureaucratic warrior," comments Politico's Ben Smith, and "a rare populist voice in the Administration's early efforts to explain its economic policy."
  • Goolsbee a Good Choice  "Whatever one's opinion on the tax cuts for high earners, you have to agree that Austan Goolsbee is one unpretentious, disarming fellow," remarks The Economist's Ryan Avent, approvingly. "Like if someone took Larry Summers and said, ok, we need the exact opposite of this."
  • 'He's a Showman,' writes The Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman. "He's one-part economics prof (he is on the University of Chicago faculty), one part the guy on the UPS commercials," and that's "one big reason," says Weisman, that he got the chairmanship of the Council of Economic Advisers when Christina Romer left. Weisman does take issue, though, with one of the points in the presentation:
Problem is, the Democratic leaders left town without putting the partial extension of tax cuts for the middle class up for a vote. And that makes the charge that Republicans are holding those tax cuts hostage a little tough to make
  • Obama Team Has Always Been About New Media, recalls Nancy Scola at TechPresident. She thinks Goolsbee was a "logical first choice" for this series, being a star professor. Of course, " his chart could stand a few more labels (what are the big dots again?)." The real issue, she says, is getting people to watch:
One approach is to count on surrogates to help spread it around the web, via Twitter and reposting on blogs, though that might not quite hit the target audience. Maybe, then, they're counting a bit more on WhiteHouse.gov's Google juice to pull people towards the video when the go online to search for info on tax cuts.
  • 'Clever and Worthwhile,' decides Steve Benen at the liberal Washington Monthly. "It often seems as if Democrats would be more likely to win policy debates if the public actually understood what the debate is all about."
  • 'Worth Trying,' At Least, writes a slightly more skeptical Matt Yglesias. "Goolsbee really needs a suit with unpleated pants," he adds, in an unrelated observation.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.