Obama’s Top Economic Adviser, Romer Quits to Return to Teaching

August 6, 2010

(ChattahBox)—Christina Romer, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers is leaving her White House job, to return to teaching at the University of California at Berkeley. Romer follows, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag, who left his post during the summer. The exodus of economic advisers comes at a time of high unemployment and economic distress, as President Obama works to maneuver the nation out of one of the worst recessions, since the Great Depression.

Romer is leaving, effective September 3, to return to academia, according to her statement.

“While I look forward to returning to research and teaching, the opportunity to help shape economic policy these past 20 months, and to work with the other members of the economic team and my colleagues on the CEA, is one I will always cherish,” Romer said in the statement.

With Romer’s son starting High School in California in the fall, she had previously told the White House she may leave her position for “family commitments.”

President Obama released a statement praising her service.

“Christy Romer has provided extraordinary service to me and our country during a time of economic crisis and recovery,” Obama said in his statement.

“The challenges we faced demanded more of Christy than any of her predecessors, and I greatly valued and appreciated her skill, commitment and wise counsel.”

Is there more to her departure? News reports of her stepping down as Obama’s top economic adviser, all mention the apparent now- optimistic prediction that the stimulus measure would rein in the growing unemployment rate and hold it steady at 8 percent.

But to appease Republicans, the stimulus package was whittled down and made less stimulative with tax cuts. The stimulus helped avert a major depression, retained and created jobs, but it was not ambitious enough to truly make a dent in the high unemployment rate.

In any event, the message seems to be that Romer is somehow to be blamed. But Romer pushed for a much larger stimulus bill from the beginning.

The conservative National Journal attributes Romer’s departure to infighting with Larry Summers:

“She has been frustrated,” a source with insight into the WH economics team said. “She doesn’t feel that she has a direct line to the president. She would be giving different advice than Larry Summers [director of the National Economic Council], who does have a direct line to the president.”

“She is ostensibly the chief economic adviser, but she doesn’t seem to be playing that role,” the source said. The WH has been pounded for its faulty forecast that unemployment would not top 8% after its economic stimulus proposal passed.”

Whatever the case, Romer will remain on the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, headed by Paul Volcker. But her strong voice for aggressive spending to simulate the economy to spur job growth will be missed, and probably is the death knell for a much-needed jobs bill.


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