Sep
27
2010

How Not to Have a Debate on Obama's Economic Team

Two things that are true:

–The discussion of Larry Summers leaving his job as director of the White House Economic Council often failed to provide any sense of progressive criticism of his tenure, or of White House policy. (Republican criticism was well-represented, though.)

–The Washington Post's "Topic A" op-ed features are often terrible.

On Sunday (9/26/10) it all came together, with a Post "Topic A" discussion about the performance of Obama's economic team.

The Post got responses from former Bush economic adviser N. Gregory Mankiw andMcCain economics adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who are both unsurprisingly critical. The paper also sought comment from Dino Kos, a "managing director at Portales Partners LLC" who argued the stimulus was ill-conceived and declared that the "government has made commitments–especially Social Security and healthcare–that cannot and, ultimately, will not be fulfilled. Future governments will default on those promises one way or the other."

Diane Lim Rogers of the center-right Concord Coalition stressed the need to"start living within our means." Author Sebastian Mallaby says the Obama team "has gotten the big calls right." He does have his criticisms, though: "The president's rhetoric, if not his policy, has sometimes been excessively tough on business, contributing to nervousness in corporate boardrooms. There can be no durable recovery until businesses start to invest, so beating up on captains of industry may be good short-term politics but is lousy economic strategy."

And Moody's economist Mark Zandi–who has recently advised Republicans and Democrats–has a similar take, writing that the White House team "deserves high praise."

But where are the voices who would criticize the White House record from the left? It seems as if that point of view can't get much of an airing, in the Post or elsewhere.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.