Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue

In advance of a "major speech" on the economy and jobs, President Obama has selected Princeton University professor Alan Krueger to be chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Krueger is no relation to the horror film character Freddy Krueger, though if his ideas are implemented, they might further "slash" the economy.

Alan Krueger is the latest in a long line of professors and academics to populate this administration. Few, if any, have held real jobs in the private sector. They are mostly theorists, whose theories are often proved wrong, but in academia, as well as in government, being wrong rarely disqualifies one from a leadership post. Intentions are all that matter.


As an economic theorist, Krueger's record for accuracy is not a good one and doesn't produce confidence that adding him to the Obama team will revive an economy in the doldrums.

Krueger, writing for The New York Times blog in 2009, proposed as an object of discussion, instituting a 5 percent consumption, or value added tax (VAT), on top of the income tax, which he said would "raise approximately $500 billion a year, and fill a considerable hold in the budget outlook." He acknowledged, though, that a consumption tax would "reduce economic activity" and be a "greater burden for the poor, who spend a relatively high share of their income."

How many of those working in the private sector think government deserves more of our money when it has done such a dreadful job of spending what we have already provided it?

In May 2011, Krueger said he wanted to raise taxes on energy producers (meaning an end to tax breaks for "big oil"), but he assured us that "because the U.S. is such a small producer (of oil), eliminating the subsidy would have very little effect in the long run and no effect in the short run on gas prices."

America would have more oil if the administration lifted restrictions on drilling in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and other places in our backyard. If Krueger thinks raising the cost of energy production by eliminating tax breaks that encourage more exploration would not lead to higher prices, he's been spending too much time in the faculty lounge.

As if all of these new taxes weren't enough, Krueger has also said he wants to raise taxes on some employers to help fund unemployment benefits. If employers have to pay more to pay for the unemployed, won't they be forced to lay off more workers? It becomes a vicious cycle.

Krueger favors a national cap-and-trade program, which he says would produce green jobs. He has claimed the $825 billion stimulus was growing the economy, which can't be taken seriously given the jump in the unemployment rate from 8.2 percent when the stimulus was passed, to the current 9.1 percent. Previous economic advisers Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein predicted that, after the stimulus, unemployment wouldn't rise above 8 percent.

As The Washington Post fact checker, Glenn Kessler, noted last week, "Unless the economy turns around in the next 18 months, Obama is on track to have the worst jobs record of any president in the modern era."

In May 2001, when President George W. Bush had been in office just three months and unemployment was at 4.5 percent, Krueger told Jim Lehrer on PBS, it was hard to find a "silver lining" in the number since "the loss in total employment was almost a quarter of a million jobs" and that it was "quite a grim report."

Who wouldn't settle for numbers like that today?

The naming of Krueger is another indication that President Obama is not likely to adjust his "spread the wealth around" philosophy in light of the facts. With the words "fanatic" and "extremist" being applied by liberal Democrats to some of the Republican presidential candidates, the Obama administration continues to engage in economic extremism with its fanatical policies that don't have a chance of producing jobs in the private sector, much less win congressional approval.

Freddy Krueger terrorized his victims in their dreams. If Alan Krueger has his way, the dreams of too many Americans will soon become nightmares.

Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist and author