Matt Taibbi has a big piece titled “Obama’s Big Sellout ” in Rolling Stone that people are sure to be talking about. There is a lot to quibble with — most notably, his claim that Rubinites didn’t like the stimulus package because they favor deficit reduction (I have never heard this and it’s naive to think that generally favoring deficit reduction means that you would oppose traditional Keynesian anti-recessionary measures in the teeth of a severe recession). He also doesn’t go into the details of the bail-out enough (I think it only makes sense to discuss it in the context of how much money the government will actually lose on it). But this part is striking:
While Rubin’s allies and acolytes got all the important jobs in the Obama administration, the academics and progressives got banished to semi-meaningless, even comical roles. Kornbluh was rewarded for being the chief policy architect of Obama’s meteoric rise by being outfitted with a pith helmet and booted across the ocean to Paris, where she now serves as America’s never-again-to-be-seen-on-TV ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Goolsbee, meanwhile, was appointed as staff director of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, a kind of dumping ground for Wall Street critics who had assisted Obama during the campaign; one top Democrat calls the panel “Siberia.”
Joining Goolsbee as chairman of the PERAB gulag is former Fed chief Paul Volcker, who back in March 2008 helped candidate Obama write a speech declaring that the deregulatory efforts of the Eighties and Nineties had “excused and even embraced an ethic of greed, corner-cutting, insider dealing, things that have always threatened the long-term stability of our economic system.” That speech met with rapturous applause, but the commission Obama gave Volcker to manage is so toothless that it didn’t even meet for the first time until last May. The lone progressive in the White House, economist Jared Bernstein, holds the impressive-sounding title of chief economist and national policy adviser — except that the man he is advising is Joe Biden, who seems more interested in foreign policy than financial reform.
What I’d like to know is if President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board really is “Siberia”. I have no idea what the answer is.