Five Reasons Jason Furman Shouldn’t Be Obama’s Top Economic Adviser

Reports indicate that President Obama plans to nominate Harvard economist Jason Furman as his next head of his Council of Economic Advisers.

This would be very bad news for progressives because of Furman’s advocacy for right-wing policies. Here’s five reasons why Furman shouldn’t be Obama’s top economic adviser:

  1. He’s An Advocate Of Job-Killing “Free Trade” Deals: In an article in the Harvard Law & Policy Review, Furman criticized the growing opposition to so-called free trade deals — which have trade rules rigged in favor of big corporations and do not actually enact unfettered trade. He criticized this opposition as a “serious threat to our economic well-being” and offered support for more job-killing trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea (those agreements are expected to cost the United States over 200,000 jobs).
     
  2. He Supports Wal-Mart’s Anti-Worker Practices:  Furman wrote an article calling Wal-Mart a “progressive success story,” and praised the “progressive benefits of everyday low prices” — which are subsidized by the low wages of not only its American workforce but Chinese workers in factories earning as little as $120 a month. He said that the”mere fact that more than 1.3 million Americans work at Wal-Mart demonstrates that its compensation is at least as good as the alternatives” — despite the fact data shows that the company’s workers earn “12.4 percent less than retail workers as a whole and 13 percent less than large retail workers in general.” He dismissed criticism from progressives, saying, “Some have pointed to Costco (which has higher wages and more generous benefits),  arguing that if Wal-Mart were more generous with its employees it would do better at attracting,  motivating, and retaining them, increasing its total profits. I have no ability to judge whether or  not this is true, although given the choice I would trust Wal-Mart to know more about maximizing profits and shareholder value than its critics.”  Recall that it would only cost Wal-Mart $12 per shopper per year to pay all of its employees a living wage.
     
  3. He Is An Advocate For A “Jobs Plan” Based On Unpaid Internships: Furman, serving as a White House economist, pushed Obama to adopt a jobs plan that would ask the unemployed to work as unpaid corporate interns.
     
  4. He Wants To Lower Corporate Taxes: Furman is an advocate of Reagan-style lowering of the corporate tax rate. In a Washington Post op-ed, he called for lowering corporate tax rates — recall that the U.S. already has one of the lowest effective corporate tax rates of any rich country.
     
  5. He Supports The Chained CPI Benefit Cut To Social Security: Furman in a 2011 testimony before the Senate Budget Committee boasting that cutting benefits would save the government money: “The Consumer Price Indices currently used for indexation employ an outdated procedure that overstate inflation. If all federal programs and taxes were switched to [Chained CPI] by the end of a decade the government would save more than $40 billion, with the bulk of the savings divided roughly equally between preventing de facto Social Security benefit increases and tax cuts that Congress never intended. Over time the savings would continue to grow.” Recall that under chained CPI, “The average earner retiring at age 65 would lose $658 each year until they turned 75 under Chained-CPI, and a $1,147 cut by 85.”

Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green put out the following statement about the possibility of Obama nominating Furman:

If President Obama is serious about rebuilding America’s middle class Jason Furman is the wrong person to chair his Council of Economic Advisers. America expects better after voting for progressives like Elizabeth Warren in 2012. The top economic policy adviser should be focused on protecting our parents’ and grandparents’ Social Security benefits, breaking up the big banks that ruined our economy in 2008, and making a college education affordable for our nation’s students; not give corporations free labor, gutting workers’ benefits and lowering taxes for big business.”

Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 and let them know Jason Furman is the wrong man for the job.

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