Commentary by Michael Reagan: Professors don't have all the answers to our economic troubles

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President Obama has nominated Princeton University Professor Alan Krueger to be chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Saying that "I have nothing but confidence in Alan as he takes on this important role," Obama described him as one of the nation's leading economists.

Nonsense! Washington needs to stop listening to these allegedly high-minded academics who have helped get us into this fouled-up economy.

"Cash for Clunkers"? Please! Enough with academics from Princeton, Harvard, Chicago and Yale who have never run a business nor created a single private sector job. It is long past time for us to put a business person in this post, someone who has actually created jobs.

This has got to stop. No more liberal professors getting top administration jobs! If you must have an academic, however, why not try someone on the faculty at Eureka College where my dad Ronald Reagan got his degree in economics. It worked for him and it worked for the good old USA!

Krueger, 50, described as a "labor specialist" who served in the Treasury Department earlier in the Obama administration, will succeed Austan Goolsbee, who has now returned to the University of Chicago. According to Obama, Krueger is "a key voice on a vast array of economic issues for more than two decades. Alan understands the difficult challenges our country faces, and I have confidence that he will help us meet those challenges as one of the leaders on my economic team."

Fox News reported Monday that, according to one administration official, "Krueger's job will be to provide policy prescriptions on ways to spur employment ... [he] has worked on several analyses at Treasury, including the impact of tax incentives to encourage employers to hire, the 'cash for clunkers' program to expand vehicle purchases, the Small Business Lending Fund and Build America taxable municipal bonds."

He was previously employed as the chief economist at the Labor Department during the Clinton administration, and has published studies on job growth, the minimum wage, and the economic backgrounds of terrorists.

Impressive. But this nation's phenomenal growth in a mere 200 years from a collection of British colonies to the world's leading financial colossus was hardly the result of the labors of college economics professors working in government jobs. It was ordinary Americans, most without college degrees or even high school diplomas, who rolled up their sleeves and built the world's most advanced nation from the plains and forests of a largely undeveloped new world.

Academia was not the engine that created 21st Century America -- it was a passenger riding free in the caboose. The salaries and other perks available to members of the professorate are paid with funds resulting from the sweat and grit of ordinary Americans whom the academics routinely demean as being beneath their notice, except when they are reaching for their paychecks or grants.

It is not surprising that former academic Barack Obama should turn to the groves of academia to find appointees to key government jobs. It's where he hails from; it's where he was comfortable, free of the cares and competitions of a dog-eat-dog economy.

I don't have anything against Professor Krueger. As far as I know he is fully qualified for his new job. It's the job itself that bothers me; the marriage of government and the professional economics community that makes me uncomfortable. The two are not compactible, one being devoted to the commonweal, the other to more esoteric pursuits.

I guess that's what you end up with when you elect an academic with no real-life experiences in the world of cash and carry, where the majority of us live.

Read more: itics/2011/08/29/obama-to-nominate-princeton-professor-as-head-econom ic-advisers-team/#ixzz1WdGBAaef.

• Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin's Press, 2011). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his website at, or e-mail comments to


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