Obama Names Volcker to Head New Economic Advisory Board
By Michael A. Fletcher
President-elect Barack Obama today named former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker to head a new advisory panel designed to help guide the administration's efforts to stabilize the nation's struggling financial system and create millions of new jobs.
Speaking at his third news conference in three days, Obama said the new President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board will be tasked with bringing fresh thinking and "vigorous oversight" to the administration's efforts to jumpstart and reshape the nation's economy.
"The reality is that sometimes policymaking in Washington can become too insular," Obama said. "The walls of the echo chamber can sometimes keep out fresh voices and new ways of thinking -- and those who serve in Washington don't always have a ground-level sense of which programs and policies are working for people, and which aren't."
Obama has said that soon after he takes office he wants to enact a massive economic recovery plan that will save or create 2.5 million jobs, through a combination of tax breaks for the middle class and a huge infusion of government spending on a wide range of infrastructure projects that he hopes will lay the foundation for future economic growth.
He said the new advisory board will help police that effort. The board will be headed by Volcker, 81, who was appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve by President Jimmy Carter and reappointed in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. He served as one of Obama's closest economic advisers during the presidential campaign.
During his tenure as Fed chairman, Volcker was confronted with an economic crisis marked by high inflation and stagnant growth, which he battled by raising interest rates, which eventually arrested the problem but not before the nation endured a deep recession.
Obama said he is modeling the advisory board -- which he said will eventually include a broad cross section of economic stakeholders and researchers, from union members to business owners and university researchers -- on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
"The board will report regularly to me, Vice President-elect Biden and our economic team as we seek to jump-start economic growth," Obama said.
The board's top staff official will be Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist who has advised Obama since his 2004 campaign for the U.S. Senate. Obama also named Goolsbee to his three-member Council of Economic Advisers, which will be headed by Christina Romer, a University of California at Berkeley economist.
Posted at 11:39 AM ET on Nov 26, 2008
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