This was initially posted at McAlvany Intelligence Advisor:
With Monday’s announcement that Jason Furman will be taking over from Alan Krueger as chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, some have asked: who is he?
The short answer is that he is a proto-typical Keynesian liberal who has a long list of educational and experiential credits in his resume. His pedigree makes him a near-perfect choice for a president determined to transform what’s left of the free market economy into a completely socialist one.
The grandson of a wealthy Jewish real estate developer, Furman attended private schools, moving on to Harvard and the London School of Economics, obtaining advanced degrees from both. He was tapped while a graduate student at Harvard by an establishment insider, Joseph Stiglitz, to be a special assistant to President Clinton. He so impressed Stiglitz with his work there that Stiglitz employed him at the World Bank for a period. Following that he worked at the liberal Brookings Institution as a budget expert.
He has political creds as well, working in the election campaigns for Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama. He was nominated by Obama as deputy director for the other group advising the president on economic affairs, the National Economic Council, so his ties to the present administration are tight.
It doesn’t hurt that his mother, Gail Furman, is President of the Furman Foundation. That organization is a major donor to the Tides Center, the same group George Soros has supported with millions. Or that his brother, Jesse, (also Harvard and Oxford-trained), was nominated by Obama to a seat on the US District Court in New York.
Furman is a multi-millionaire, receiving a substantial income not only from the Furman Foundation, but from other assets estimated to be in the “$5 million to $25 million” range. So his income of $16,000 a month from his new position is just a side benefit.
What Furman excels at is giving good solid Keynesian advice to a president only too willing to take it. Furman came up with the “cash for clunkers” program that worked so well that the University of Delaware concluded that each of the nearly 700,000 cars traded in cost the American taxpayer in excess of $2,000 each, while gas mileage (which was touted as one of the primary benefits) improved by less than one mile per gallon.
This was an offshoot of Furman’s previous attempt to stimulate the economy by taking money from taxpayers and giving it to those who hadn’t earned it, called “cash for caulkers.” That program stalled under Clinton, but was revived under Obama.
Despite advising the president during the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression, with programs that have successfully extended its recovery by years compared to others in recent years, Furman remains cheerfully optimistic about further government interventions, all in the name of recovery. He is perhaps best known for his comments while he was hammering out the details of Obama’s massive stimulus plan:
It’s infrastructure. It’s health care. It’s energy. It’s food stamps. It’s everything!
I don’t want you to worry [that it won’t work]. The reality is, we can always come back a year later and do more.
Furman is the fourth chairman under Obama as his economic council chairman, being preceded by Christina Romer (Keynesian), Austan Goolsbee (Keynesian) and Alan Krueger (Keynesian).
As noted by Lee Sachs (another Keynesian who served as an adviser to former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner),
Jason is one of those rare individuals who combines a top economic mind with a deep understanding of the policy process and a true sensitivity to the real world implications of policy decisions.
It’s all that real-world experience and education and training that will set Furman aside from those preceding him. You bet.