12.18.2004

Bush considering Bernanke as White House economist Reuters (12.18.04)

The Bush administration is considering Federal Reserve Governor Ben Bernanke as a possible replacement for Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Gregory Mankiw, U.S. officials said this week.

[snip]

"He would be a good choice," said Bill Beach, an economist with the conservative Heritage Foundation. "He understands Washington."

Mankiw found himself at the center of some political storms as the election campaign began to heat up early this year.

One was sparked by his jobs forecast which Democrats derided as overly optimistic. Another erupted after he suggested that the outsourcing of jobs to workers overseas may benefit the economy -- a comment that stirred criticism from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Hmmm, bullish on outsourcing and liked by the Heritage Foundation. Well, that's 2 big strikes against him.

Some analysts thought a stint at the CEA could burnish Bernanke's credentials for possibly taking the helm at the Fed but others said the timing might not work out that well because Bush would have to find yet another CEA chairman in a short period of time.

Bernanke's area of expertise is in macroeconomics and monetary policy -- not a field directly related to items at the top of Bush's economic agenda such as overhauling Social Security and revamping the tax code.

While a Republican, Bernanke is not an activist and has developed a reputation as an independent thinker. But that did not prevent dedicated conservative Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, from offering his stamp of approval.

"I hear nothing but good things about him," Norquist said.

Whoops! Clearly spoke too soon: Grover likes him and that means strike 3!

Keep an eye on this guy folks, keep an eye on this guy... no good can come of it.

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