Obama's economic team: "A joy to argue with"

More details emerge on the stimulus, via YouTube and elsewhere. Paul Krugman is critical, but happy at the lack of outright dishonesty

Published January 12, 2009 3:13PM (EST)

Have some fun with nine minutes of YouTube-delivered government transparency, recorded last Friday: Cristina Romer, President-elect Barack Obama's nominee to run the Council of Economic Advisers, talking about how the stimulus plan is expected to work:

Here is a paper co-written by Romer and Jared Bernstein, the prospective chief economic advisor for Vice President-elect Joe Biden, released on Saturday: "The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan."

And here is Paul Krugman with one of the earliest reviews of the Romer-Bernstein paper. Synopsis: Krugman thinks the plan still "looks too weak" but admits that "it will be a joy to argue policy with an administration that provides comprehensible, honest reports, not case studies in how to lie with statistics."

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight suggests that the Obama team is low-balling the stimulus so as to make Senate Democrats do all the heavy lifting of raising the price tag, while convincing Republicans that his administration is thrifty and conservative. Is this an example of Rahm Emanuel-crafted Machiavellian strategy? It seems a bit optimistic to me, but as the sequence of videos, papers and commentary outlined above demonstrates, we are going to see this process unfold at a level of detail and openness unprecedented in American political life. At least so far.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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