Simon Johnson: Paul Krugman Should Be The Next White House Budget Director

I tend to agree with Mr. Johnson’s analysis…

Huffington PostSimon Johnson – MIT Professor and co-author of 13 Bankers

The president should nominate Paul Krugman to replace Peter Orszag as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). (Orszag resignation details are here.)

We have previously reviewed Krugman’s outstanding qualifications for this (or any other top level) job (link to details). The main reason Krugman himself has been reluctant in the past relates to a potentially difficult Senate confirmation hearing — for example, if Krugman had been put forward to replace Ben Bernanke.

But for the OMB position, the dynamic of a hearing would be terrific for the president’s specific agenda and broader messages. Krugman, of course, is the leading advocate for continued (or increased) fiscal stimulus. This is exactly President Obama’s message to the G20 this weekend.

Plus, when Republicans push back against Krugman on this issue, he will let them have it full blast on fiscal policy during the Bush administration. Krugman has, again and again, been an outspoken critic of the Bush era fiscal policy. He has precise chapter and verse on where the Bush team went off the deep fiscal edge.

Krugman also stands for responsible medium-term fiscal policy — he wrote the original definitive work, after all, on balance of payments crises. But the point is not to engage in precipitate and panicky fiscal austerity (as announced in the UK today), but rather to put the overall debt onto a sustainable path. It is very hard to do that when the people claiming the represent “fiscal prudence” are actually the ones who created this massive mess in the first place. Krugman can set the public record straight on this — it would be great television and very good economics.

This is exactly what the debate on our current deficit and future debt path needs. The Obama administration lost the narrative on this point also (as well as on banking and much more). Paul Krugman can get them back on track.

Orrin Hatch: Drug Test The Unemployed

Orrin Hatch has apparently lost touch with reality and the constitution…

Huffington Post

Utah voters have reacted enthusiastically to Sen. Orrin Hatch’s legislation to drug test the unemployed and those receiving other forms of government cash assistance, the Utah Republican told the Huffington Post after introducing his measure last week.

“A lot of people are saying, ‘Hey, it’s about time. Why do we keep giving money to people who are going to go use it on drugs instead of their families?'” Hatch said.

The goal, he said, is to get users into treatment.

“Now, it doesn’t do away with food stamps. And it does get the help for them that they really need. And if they get the help, then they’re right back on to the cash,” he said.

He said he has gotten little feedback from his colleagues, however. Sens. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) all told HuffPost they don’t have an opinion yet on Hatch’s measure and will have to study the language.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), meanwhile, has an opinion. “I think it’s a punitive attitude. Who’s going to pay for the test? What’s the point of the test? You know, why do you want to drug test people who have lost their job?” she wondered.

Hatch said the test would be paid for with money saved by not paying benefits. “Any monies left over would go to help the states with the drug testing and so forth, and if there’s any surplus it goes to pay off the deficit,” he said.   Read more…

Tillman mother sought to warn Obama of McChrystal

This story gets better and better everyday.  I remember when Mary Tillman tried to get the attention of the President and some members of Congress regarding General McChrystal’s appointment.  She felt he handled the investigation into her son’s killing, poorly.


The mother of the slain football player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman sought to warn President Obama against making General Stanley McChrystal his commander in Afghanistan.   

Mary Tillman said in an unpublished interview this year that she wrote to Obama and called Senators and members of Congress seeking to block McChrystal’s appointment when she learned that he was under consideration for the post. (“She received no response to the letter”)  

She called the lack of deliberation leading to his appointment “disgusting” in the interview, given before today’s Rolling Stone article spurred intense tension between the general and the White House. An audio recording of the interview was provided to POLITICO by the interviewer, who asked to remain anonymous.  

McChrystal has been accused of involvement in covering up of the fact that Tillman had been shot by his own comrades, having approved a citation for a posthumous medal that attributed his death to “enemy fire,” though the general also penned a memo warning the White House against describing the circumstance of Tillman’s death for fear of future embarrassment.     Read more…

Fox Affiliates Distance Themselves From Fox News

News Hounds

Well, well, well. It seems as if some of Fox News’ own colleagues are not quite brandishing the connection with pride.

In fact, some seem to be making a point of emphasizing that being a Fox (Broadcasting) affiliate station is not the same as being an arm of Fox News.

Joe Strupp, at Media Matters, notes that some affiliates make it hard to see the name “Fox” on their logo; another has trouble booking Democratic guests on its local political show; another receives daily complaints about Fox News or Bill O’Reilly.

Furious Obama summons McChrystal to explain W.H. slams


The top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has been summoned to the White House to explain biting and unflattering remarks he made to a freelance writer about President Barack Obama and others in the Obama administration.

 The face to face comes as pundits are already calling for McChrystal to resign for insubordination.

 McChrystal has been instructed to fly from Kabul to Washington today to attend Obama’s regular monthly security team meeting tomorrow at the White House.

An administration official says McChrystal was asked to attend in person rather than by secure video teleconference, “where he will have to explain to the Pentagon and the commander in chief his quotes about his colleagues in the piece.”

 Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have spoken with McChrystal. Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for Mullen, said “the chairman spoke to Gen. McChrystal last night and expressed his deep disappointment with the article and with the comments expressed therein.”

 McChrystal and his top aides appeared to let their guard down during a series of interviews and visits with Michael Hastings, a freelance writer for the magazine Rolling Stone.

 The article, titled “The Runaway General,” appears in the magazine later this week. It contains a number of jabs by McChrystal and his staff aimed not only at the president but also at Vice President Joe Biden, special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Karl Eikenberry, the ambassador to Afghanistan, and others.

McChrystal described his first meeting with Obama as disappointing and said that Obama was unprepared for the meeting.

 National Security Adviser Jim Jones is described by a McChrystal aide as a “clown” stuck in 1985.

 Others aides joked about Biden’s last name as sounding like “Bite me” since Biden opposed the surge.

McChrystal issued an immediate apology for the profile, advance copies of which were sent to news organizations last night.
Read more…

Fox Nation asks if Obama — not CEO Tony Hayward — should resign for BP’s negligence.

This is typical Orwellian logic from Fox News…

Think Progress

Last week, Bloomberg reported that BP experienced serious problems with its Deepwater Horizon operation in early February — two months before the fatal explosion that sunk the rig in April — when it struggled to seal cracks found in the well. It informed the Minerals Management Service on February 13th that the cracks were causing uncontrollable bursts of natural gas. Gas surges “are common in oil drilling,” and companies sometimes abandon wells if they determine the risks are too high, but BP chose to press on anyway. Today, under the headline “Should Pres. Obama Resign Over Feb. 13?,” right-wing radio host and Fox Forum contributor Kevin McCullough picked up the story for Fox Nation and jumped to the remarkable conclusion that President Obama is somehow responsible and should probably resign for BP’s negligence:

While defending his own policies President Obama has routinely been rude and sarcastic to his predecessor, George W. Bush. Yet Obama appears to be making the resident of the previous White House look like a genius compared to his own serious missteps in office. […]

It seems incomprehensible that the president and other members of the administration still have jobs when it is now being reported that the federal government was apprised by BP on February 13 that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was leaking oil and natural gas into the ocean floor.

What’s “incomprehensible” is that McCullough would skip straight to calling for Obama’s resignation, without even pausing to consider that perhaps someone from BP — say, the actual person in charge of the well, BP CEO Tony Hayward — should resign first for ignoring this obvious warning sign, along with many others. McCullough offers no criticism of BP, and instead paints them as a helpless victim, begging for the administration to bail them out. After praising newly-crowned “genius” Bush some more, McCullough sagely advises Obama to “change your tactics” and “appear to care” — “Otherwise resign.”

Honolulu city clerk debunks new ‘birther’ theory

They’re at it again.  The Birthers keep popping up with new theories about President Obama’s birth.  They just keep going and going, but with no progress at all.

Dave Weigel – Washington Post

Over the past few weeks, a Kentucky resident and teacher named Timothy Adams has made the rounds online and on talk radio with an extraordinary claim — he was the “senior elections clerk” for Honolulu in 2008, where it was an open secret that the city and state had no proof of Barack Obama’s citizenship. As he told WorldNetDaily, the racing form for birtherism:

I had direct access to the Social Security database, the national crime computer, state driver’s license information, international passport information, basically just about anything you can imagine to get someone’s identity. I could look up what bank your home mortgage was in. I was informed by my boss that we did not have a birth record [for Barack Obama].

I checked with Glen Takahashi, the administrator of the Honolulu City Clerk’s office, and while he verified that Adams worked there, he explained – gently making it clear he did not want to “call anyone a liar” — that Adams never actually had access to information about Barack Obama.

“Our office does not have access to birth records,” Takahashi said. “That’s handled by the state of Hawaii Department of Health. Where he’s getting that, I don’t know. Put it this way: Barack Obama was not trying to register to vote in Hawaii. He is, as far as I know, not a registered voter here. So no one was looking that up.”

Takahashi explained that the “senior elections clerk” job that Adams held was a low-level data entry position dealing with voter registration and absentee ballots — Adams was one of dozens of temporary employees who staffed the pre-election rush. And he contradicted Adams’s claims that Obama’s lack of a birth certificate was an “open secret” or that voters contacted the office to ask about it.

“To be honest, I fielded no questions about that,” Takahashi said. “Why would anyone ask us? We don’t have those records.”

The internal contradictions of Adams’s story haven’t stopped him from expanding his media presence this week, most recently with a local TV interview in which he repeated his claims (some of them based on popular “birther” rumors from the Web) while, confusingly, stating that he didn’t think Obama’s eligibility was an issue.