OTR Interviews

Obama Appoints a New Chairman to His Council of Economic Advisers: Who Is Alan Krueger?

A closer look at President Obama's nominee for chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 29, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: President Obama is back from Martha's Vineyard, so what about jobs? He promised. For starters, first thing this morning, he named a new chairman to his Council of Economic Advisers. Now, that appointment comes just one week before the president is expected to lay out his new jobs plan. So who is the new chairman, and will he make a difference?

"New York Times" financial reporter Louise Story joins us. Good evening, Louise. Who's the -- who's the new appointment?

LOUISE STORY, "NEW YORK TIMES": So Alan Krueger has been a longtime professor at Princeton. And actually, he's done a lot of research on unemployment. So the idea is perhaps this professor from Princeton can come in and help us with this jobs crisis we're having in the country right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does he have any experience? And I don't mean to be sarcastic, especially after I was just critical of someone else being sarcastic about Governor Perry...

STORY: Right. Be careful.

VAN SUSTEREN: Be careful, indeed. He has studied labor. He has studied unemployment. Does he have any real-life experience actually hiring people in a -- so that -- in a work environment?

STORY: Well, you know, his most recent real-life experience was earlier in the Obama administration he was the chief economist for the Treasury Department. And while there, one of the big things he was very active in was the Build America bonds program, which helped a lot of cities and states raise money with a federally backed program that was something that was a bit of a boon to the Wall Street banks because they made all this money underwriting those deals. He was involved in that.

His research on unemployment, the most important piece of it has to do with the minimum wage. You know, a lot of people say if you raise the minimum wage, you will make it so that companies don't hire as much. And what his research has shown is, even if you raise the minimum wage, companies will still hire.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess it depends on whether you raise it a dime an hour or whether you raise it 50 bucks an hour, though.

STORY: Of course.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess that would be -- all right, and I don't know what his study showed there. All right, tell me, in terms of, you know, unemployment dogging this country -- I mean, there's so many Americans across the country, as you know -- we've discussed this before -- who are desperate to get jobs. We got to turn that around. And the strategy has not been effective because our unemployment's been -- you know, has been...

STORY: We have not had much improvement.

VAN SUSTEREN: Right. All right. Does he have any sort of thoughts or policy -- not thoughts, but does he have any policy or experience or ideas or he's written or shown anything that he has a strategy different from the one the White House has been currently employing since January of '09?

STORY: It's unclear exactly what his policy proposal would be. And by the way, you know, Obama may already have some plan in the works. You know, a lot of people hope he does, since, you know, time is running out. So this appointee may walk into a plan that's already been somewhat laid out.

That said, you know, one of his policies that has been talked about a lot today since he was nominated is he came out in '09 and said he would like a consumption tax. And this is a bit controversial. He made a very interesting proposal for it, though. He said, Don't do the consumption tax right away because that would be hard on the economy, it would be hard on particularly lower-income people who have a very big percentage of their spending money that has go to consumption. Their earnings have to go to consumption.

But he said, announce now that you're going to do it in two years. So that would make everyone go spend lots of money now, right? Go buy your car now. Go buy your clothes. Go buy anything you can buy to get ahead of that tax which is coming. So it might help the economy in the short term.

But in the long term, it would encourage people to save and raise money. So I think a lot people will be watching to see if once he's back in the White House advising the president, if we hear more about that consumption tax.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is his job -- I mean, everyone who's hired in any administration has a particular, you know, skill that the president's looking for. Is his job to come up with a strategy to get us out of the doldrums economically, or is his job more seen as someone who can sell Congress and the American people on the President Obama economic strategy?

STORY: It's really both. You know, he's supposed to look to history and to research and advise the president on what might work and what may not work. But he's also supposed to be a voice out there in front of the cameras, you know, out there in Congress convincing people.

When he was in the Treasury Department as chief economist earlier in the administration, he was instrumental in pushing for some of Obama's economic policies, which, of course, people are saying now a lot of those economic policies did not go far enough and that the stimulus was not big enough back then. But he helped push for those back then. You're sure to see him pushing a lot for Obama's plans now.

VAN SUSTEREN: On the flip side, some said it wasn't that he didn't push far enough, it's just that those are plans that failed.

STORY: You know, it's hard to know what it would have been like without them, if it would have been worse. But he was certainly promoting Obama's plans. The other twist here, of course, is because he's already been confirmed once by the Senate, the president and the administration presumably are hoping he'll breeze through this time around again.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did the president consider anybody with business experience, as opposed to someone who came -- who's coming from the academic world?

STORY: Well, you know, he does have Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, one of the biggest American companies, who is an adviser to him on economic and job policy. So he's got him. He's also got a former executive from JPMorgan as his chief of staff. So those are some people with real-world experience who can help out the professor from Princeton.

VAN SUSTEREN: Those guys are at the top. How about somebody who's run a company with, you know, 200 people and actually has hands-on experience of what it takes to meet a payroll, to hire people, to fire people? Not the guys necessarily at the way -- at the way top of these corporations, but people who've, you know, really done it.

STORY: Who would you suggest?

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh! There you go! You stumped me. So on that note, I'm getting out of this.

(CROSSTALK)

STORY: Thank you.