Obama Top Economist Likes Wal-Mart and Sees Improved Worker Living Standards

(p. C1) Acting quickly after securing his party’s presidential nomination, Barack Obama picked a well-known representative of Bill Clinton’s economic policies as his economic policy director and signaled this week that the major players from the Clinton economics team were now in his camp — starting with Robert E. Rubin.
Senator Obama, Democrat of Illinois, hired Jason Furman, a Harvard-trained economist closely associated with Mr. Rubin, a Wall Street insider who served as President Clinton’s Treasury secretary. Labor union leaders criticized the move, and said that ”Rubinomics” focused too much on corporate America and not enough on workers.
. . .
(p. C4) Mr. Furman, who served for a while as a special economic adviser in the Clinton administration, has taken some controversial positions. He argued in 2005, for example, that Wal-Mart, despite its conflicts with organized labor over pay and health insurance, was a good business model.
More recently, he argued that while the typical worker suffers from inadequate income, that worker’s living standards, broadly measured, are higher today than those of their counterparts 30 years ago — an argument in dispute among economists.
. . .
Until now, Austan Goolsbee, an economist at the University of Chicago, had been Mr. Obama’s chief economic adviser. He remains an unpaid adviser. He said he was not a candidate for Mr. Furman’s full-time job because of his university duties.

For the full story, see:
LOUIS UCHITELLE. “Union Critical of Obama’s Top Economics Aide.” The New York Times (Thurs., June 12, 2008): C1 & C4.
(Note: ellipses added.)

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