The President Has Lunch With 'Top Economists.' If Only They Weren't So Conservative!
July 3, 2014

Must. Hit. Head. On. Desk.

I'm sure you've read that the rate of U.S. growth has slowed to a crawl. President Obama must be concerned -- he and Joe Biden met with a group of economists yesterday for lunch. Look at the guest list.

I'm hearing so many people rage about Theoretical President Hillary Clinton's Wall Street ties, but pay attention: this is the president we have right now.

See any real progressive economists on there? Maybe two.

See any neoliberal, Wall Street-loving economists on there -- you know, the kind of people whose stupid advice dug us deeper and deeper into the austerity hole? Uh huh.

  • Luigi Zingalies, an economist and professor of entrepreneurship and finance at the University of Chicago School of Business. There's some things to like (he speaks strongly against crony capitalism and regulatory capture, but he also supported eliminating all American income, corporate, and payroll taxes and replacing the system with a broad consumption tax. It's the kind of thing that could work with the right progressive adjustments, but anything that makes it fairer is unlikely to be supported by Republicans.) Not necessarily a liberal, but not one of the wingnuts, either.
  • Kevin Hassett, conservative economist with the American Enterprise Institute and AEI's director of economic policy studies. . (He was the chief economic advisor to both John McCain's and Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and says income inequality is just not a big deal.) He's also a columnist for the National Review. (He was last seen making shit up about French economist Thomas Piketty's new book.) Salon has called him "Romney's dumbest economist."
  • Robert Hall, Professor of Economics at Stanford University's right-wing think tank, the Hoover Institution. Another big supporter of the flat tax that's so beloved of wealthy conservatives!
  • Edward Glaeser, Professor of Economics at Harvard and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, another wingnut think tank that specializes in urban economic research that blames individuals, rather than systemic problems. Yay!
  • Martin Feldstein, Professor of Economics at Harvard. Chief economic advisor to Ronald Reagan and a full-blown deficit hawk. (Can you say "Social Security cuts"? I knew you could!) He was a board member for AIG Financial Products, supposedly exercising oversight of the division of the international insurer that contributed to the company's 2008 crisis. (Remember how they rated the toxic mortgage derivatives and credit default swaps that led to the crash?) For you conspiracy buffs out there, in addition to being one of Obama's economic advisors, he's also on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and he's usually invited to Bilderberg.
  • Ben Bernanke, Distinguished Fellow in Residence, Brookings Institution. What can we say about Helicopter Ben? Some progressive economists hoped he'd extend the same economic stimulus to the suffering public that he did to AIG and the banks, but it was not to be. He was accused of some funny business re: Bank of America, but of course nothing came of it. More importantly, remember that as a member of the Fed board, he didn't see the crisis coming, and we still don't know the real numbers about how much he pumped into Wall Street.

And finally, the one honest-to-God liberal of the bunch:

  • Melissa Kearney, Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland, on leave this year as a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project. She specializes in inequality and a full range of anti-poverty issues. (We like her because she pushed for extended unemployment benefits.)
  • And of course, she was the lone female. I don't like the odds that her voice was heard. Let's hope so.

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