Also in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard economist Robert Barro has an op-ed piece arguing that if the Obama administration hadn't extended unemployment benefits, the jobless rate would be 6.8% rather than 9.5%. He makes some interesting points about unemployment benefits, but I don't agree with his management advice: "President Obama can reasonably blame his economic advisers. They should have protected their boss by standing firm and arguing that a reckless expansion of unemployment-insurance coverage to 99 weeks was unwise economically and politically." Professor Barro agrees with Congressman John Boehner that Mr. Obama should fire his economic policy team.
Look, a lot of people would probably be happier if instead of Timothy Geithner, Lawrence Summers, and co. we had Steve Forbes, Brian Wesbury, and David Malpass. But whatever happened to "the buck stops here"? Give the president a little bit of credit. He's not some kind of airhead who just does what his advisers tell him. He has views on economic policy. The advisers are a symptom, not the cause. The issue isn't the advisers, it's the president. Don't scapegoat the staffers; engage in the political and policy debate with the president who hired the staffers and who tells them what to do.