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Obama Picks Jobs Expert as Top Advisor

Stephen Collinson

US President Barack Obama (R) named Alan Krueger (L) as his top economic adviser on Monday (AFP, Mandel Ngan)

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Alan Krueger, a Princeton University expert on unemployment, as his top economic adviser as he plots an "urgent" new offensive on the jobs crisis.

Obama described Krueger as one of America's top economists who understood the challenges that country faces, with a recovery that has been too tepid to to make significant cuts in an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.

Krueger, if confirmed by the Senate, will serve as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and succeed long-time Obama confidante Austan Goolsbee who left the administration to return to academia in Chicago.

Next week, the president will lay out a new plan to create jobs and slice into the deficit, projected to hit $1.6 trillion this year, which is certain to ignite a new political firestorm with Republicans.

"Our great economic challenge as a nation remains how to get this economy growing," Obama said as he appeared with Krueger in the White House Rose Garden and previewed his big speech.

The president promised "steps that Congress can take immediately to put more money in the pockets of working class families and middle class families and to make it easier for small businesses to hire people.

"That's our urgent mission, and that's what I'm fighting for every single day," he said.

"My hope and expectation is we can put country before party and get something done for the American people. That's what I will be fighting for," Obama said.

Republicans in the House of Representatives, however, have already signaled that they oppose some of Obama's likely policy prescriptions and say the best way to stimulate growth would be to loosen government control over the economy.


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The White House says that Obama is interested in finding deficit cuts that go beyond the current $1.5 trillion mandate of a congressional supercommittee set up to recommend multi-year spending reductions.

But Obama is also seen as likely to call for a rise in taxes on the wealthiest Americans, spending on job-creating infrastructure and money for other jobs programs which Republicans have pledged to block.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the appointment, said Krueger would likely prove to be an advocate for more concerted action by the government to tackle high unemployment.

He served as assistant treasury secretary for economic policy during Obama's first two years in the White House and has also served as chief economist for the Treasury and the US Department of Labor.

Krueger also wrote a well reviewed book called "What Makes a Terrorist?" which examined the societal, economic and political conditions that breed terrorism and their psychological and economic consequences.

Republicans, however, mined Krueger's long list of published articles and comments to argue he was wedded to increasing taxes, more environmental regulation and had incorrectly predicted the extent of the jobs crisis.

The CEA is a three-member body that interprets prevailing economic conditions and provides policy recommendations to the president.

Its most high profile role in recent months has been to comment on monthly jobless figures which have shown that new positions are not being created quickly enough in a slowing recovery to bring down unemployment significantly.

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