White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee is resigning, the White House said tonight.
In a press release that seemed timed to appear after the evening newscasts, the White House gave no reason for Goolsbee’s departure, although it said he would return to Chicago in time to “return to his position” at the University of Chicago.
But having only assumed his current posting at the pinacle of economic power just last September, it can be assumed a heated desire to teach is not the main thing pushing Goolsbee out the door. He is either leaving for personal reasons – like his wife is tired of never seeing him – or he’s not getting along with someone at the White House.
It’s possible also, however, that this is the beginning of a few more departures we will see in coming weeks that will be caused by the upcoming campaign.
Any White House prefers not to have people leave during the campaign – obviously, it doesn’t look great. As occurred at about the same time during Bush’s first term, people are probably being asked to either leave now or commit to staying on through the election. It could be that Goolsbee didn’t want another full 18 months in the job.
OR PERHAPS HE’S JUST TIRED OF EXPLAINING WHY IT IS THAT THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS GOING UP INSTEAD OF DOWN.
He appears to be departing on good terms with President Obama, who issued a laudatory statement crediting Goolsbee with helping turn around the economy and calling him “one of America’s great economic thinkers.”
Likewise Goolsbee said of Obama:
I believe that his judgment, his courage in confronting the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, and his commitment to the American people have made a tremendous difference for the nation.
I assume we should know more soon about why Goolsbee is really leaving. Though a loyal Obama adviser who has formally or informally advised the president for much of his career as a national politician, Goolsbee is a pro-free trade centrist, so it’s possible there were some things going on that he disagreed with.
Goolsbee had become the most visible CEA Chairman in recent memory. An amateur comedian and champion debater, he was adept at presenting confusing economic issues in a clear and even entertaining manner.
Whatever his prowess as an economist, the White House is losing an effective spokesman on the economy.