* Furman to replace Alan Krueger
* CEA nominee shaped Obamacare, fiscal policy
* Obama also names labor economist Stevenson to CEA
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON, June 10 President Barack Obama
nominated longtime adviser Jason Furman to be his new chief
economist on Monday, elevating a former campaign aide and
Clinton administration official to oversee an agency with wide
influence over U.S. economic policy.
Furman will replace economist Alan Krueger as chair of the
White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). Krueger is
returning to his post as a professor at Princeton University,
from which he has been on leave.
Furman, a father of two who holds a Ph.D in economics from
Harvard University, helped create the economic stimulus package
that dominated Obama's first year in office and also advised on
the formulation of the president's signature healthcare reform
act, tax policy, and budget talks with U.S. lawmakers.
"When the stakes are highest, there's no one I'd rather turn
to for straightforward, unvarnished advice," Obama said of
Furman during a ceremony at the White House, speaking to an
audience of top advisers, other economists and family members.
"He's worked tirelessly on just about every major economic
challenge of the past four and a half years, from averting a
second depression, to fighting for tax cuts that help millions
of working families make ends meet, to creating new incentives
for businesses to hire, to reducing our deficits in a balanced
way that benefits the middle class," Obama said.
The president further filled out his economics advisory
panel by naming high-profile University of Michigan labor
economist Betsey Stevenson as a member of the three-person
council. Stevenson is a former chief economist at the Department
of Labor who has drawn attention for her work on the economics
of the family.
Furman served as special assistant to President Bill Clinton
at the National Economic Council from 1999-2000 and also did a
stint at the World Bank. He has advised Obama since his 2008
"He is brilliant, works harder than anyone I know, and is
incredibly influential - both inside the White House and with
Congress," said Christina Romer, an economics professor at the
University of California, Berkeley, and a former chair of the
CEA under Obama.
"He is a somewhat unusual candidate for CEA chair, but for
the current environment, he is perfect. He will absolutely be
influential and will ensure that the careful economic analysis
CEA can provide is front and center in policy discussions."
Furman's policy background contrasts with the academic
background that many of his predecessors in the job have had.
His appointment could signal a stronger role for the CEA within
Furman is currently assistant to the president for economic
policy and principal deputy director of the White House National
Economic Council (NEC), which is run by Gene Sperling, and was
an economist in the Clinton administration.
When former NEC head Larry Summers left the administration
at the end of 2010, Furman was considered a possible
replacement, but the post went to Sperling.
The CEA advises the president on domestic and international
economic policy based on data and economic research. The
chairman is a cabinet member and requires Senate confirmation.
Obama urged the Senate to confirm Furman quickly.
The president also poked some fun at Krueger for his
interest in the economics of rock and roll music.
"Now that Alan has some free time, he can return to another
burning passion of his - 'Rockonomics,'" he said.
"This is something that Alan actually cares about -
seriously, on Wednesday he's giving a speech at the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame. He's got a T-shirt under his suit with a big
tongue sticking out," Obama said, prompting Krueger to unbutton
his jacket and feign a move to undress in the White House state
"Don't show it," Obama urged, prompting laughter and
applause from the audience.
And while Krueger may have an interest in popular music, the
other economist the president named to serve on the CEA - the
University of Michigan's Stevenson - has demonstrated a strong
grasp of popular media. Stevenson has amassed more than 12,000
followers on Twitter with a stream of pithy remarks and is a
frequent commentator on television, radio, and in print.