WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has chosen labor economist Alan Krueger for a top administration post as the White House scrambles for solutions to boost a fragile economy with the 2012 election looming.
A White House official said Obama will nominate Krueger to head the White House Council of Economic Advisers. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Austan Goolsbee, who left the administration earlier this month.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak ahead of Obama’s official announcement on Monday.
The decision completes a wholesale shake-up of the team that Obama brought with him to the White House over three years ago. Advisers Larry Summers, Christina Romer and Goolsbee have now all departed, and Obama continues to struggle with perceptions the economy is stuck in low gear on his watch.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is the only remaining top official from Obama’s original economics team. Last month, the Treasury Department announced that Geithner would stay on, ending speculation he would leave the administration.
A host of would-be Republican successors has been traveling around the country, campaigning hard for the GOP presidential nomination by focusing, in no small part, on Obama’s handling of the economy.
The national unemployment rate remains at 9.1 percent and has shown little improvement over the past year, despite the more than $800 billion stimulus program that Obama got Congress to pass not long after he took office. The economy also has been on a dual track of slow growth and ballooning deficits, and Obama saw the nation’s credit rating downgraded by Standard&Poor’s earlier this year as he fought congressional Republicans for weeks for a program to slow the flow of red ink.
The White House and Republican congressional leaders ultimately agreed to a compromise deal to increase the government’s borrowing authority in early August, on the cusp of default, but the S&P credit rating was lowered from AAA to AA+, nevertheless.
Obama took to the road for a series of town-hall style meetings just before he went on vacation, seeking to explain his efforts to promote economic growth and attack the stubborn high joblessness. He and his aides have suggested he’ll bring forth a new jobs plan when Congress returns after the Labor Day recess.
Krueger’s appointment was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.