Over the past few days, president elect Barack Obama has made several statements about the economy. These have included announcements of several key officials, including the nomination of Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary and Lawrence Summers as National Economic Council director.
Unfortunately, Obama’s choices are overwhelmingly “centrist” and do not have a history of progressive views. Both Geithner and Summers had key roles in establishing policies that led to the financial crisis. Similarly, UC-Berkley professor Christina Romer, who has been named Director of the Council of Economic advisors, has views that “appear to place her well to the right of mainstream Democratic economic opinion.”
However, this has been met with considerable silence from progressives–a surprising fact given that even such establishment outlets as The New York Times have criticized his economic picks. To be sure, MediaMouse.org hasn’t had a lot of positive things to say about Obama’s picks thus far. However, our critiques are rooted in what we believe to be strategic. We believe that because Obama–however accurately or not–ran on “progressive” themes with the wide support of the progressive left in the United States, progressives should push him as far as they can.
Moreover, such efforts can make a difference. As an example, one should look towards the effort to oppose the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director. Brennan–who supported the Bush administration’s torture program–withdrew his name from consideration following pressure from psychologists and liberal bloggers.