Yesterday the chairman of Obama’s sublimely misnamed Council of Economic Advisers got the hell out of Dodge. In an earlier, more genteel day a cosmic failure like Christina Romer would have packed her Prius after dark and been hours out of town before the light of day. This, however, is the Age of Testimony and Validation. So Romer left after a luncheon at the National Press Club. I’ll let Dana Milbank pick up the narrative:
Lunch at the National Press Club on Wednesday caused some serious indigestion.
It wasn’t the food; it was the entertainment. Christina Romer, chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, was giving what was billed as her “valedictory” before she returns to teach at Berkeley, and she used the swan song to establish four points, each more unnerving than the last:
She had no idea how bad the economic collapse would be. She still doesn’t understand exactly why it was so bad. The response to the collapse was inadequate. And she doesn’t have much of an idea about how to fix things.
What she did have was a binder full of scary descriptions and warnings, offered with a perma-smile and singsong delivery: “Terrible recession. . . . Incredibly searing. . . . Dramatically below trend. . . . Suffering terribly. . . . Risk of making high unemployment permanent. . . . Economic nightmare.”
I suppose we should give Romer points for candor. It takes a really big person to walk away from what should be the culminating role of a career, scratching their backside and muttering. And to do it in front of the national press corps. It is also a fitting end to the Summer of Recovery.
Unfortunately, it also shows the White House is, as pilots say, out of altitude, out of airspeed, and out of ideas. Philosophically they will neither cut taxes nor spending nor roll back business killing regulations. Politically they will not be able to convince the Democrat caucus in the House and Senate to fund a new round of stimulus spending. So as the world’s largest economy circles the bowl enroute to subsidizing a green job somewhere, Obama’s chief economic adviser shrugs her shoulders and essentially quotes Otter of “Animal House” on the way out.