The Nobel Prize-winning economist and public advocate is at the top of every liberal’s wish list for President Obama’s second-term Cabinet appointments.

Although “never say never” is good advice in general, there is scant evidence that the same president who appointed the protégés of Bill Clinton’s deregulation team to pilot the economic recovery would pick Paul Krugman — a critic of Wall Street who favors a historically verified Keynsian approach to stimulating the economy out of the current demand crisis — to preside over the U.S. Treasury. It is also unlikely that Krugman would surrender his commitment to empirical economics for the ideological type that has driven Obama’s policies.

“Krugman would be tough to oppose on any substantive grounds,” writes Mark Weisbrot at The Guardian. The New York Times columnist “has been right about the major problems facing our economy, where many other economists and much of the business press have been wrong.” Those instances include the housing bubble that led to the recession, the harmless (in terms of inflation) effect of the Federal Reserve’s money creation program, and the nonexistence of “confidence fairies” that reward governments that pursue public-punishing programs of austerity.

But “[m]ost importantly,” Weisbrot writes, “Krugman is on the side of the majority of Americans. He has written extensively in favor of policies that favor job creation, explained the folly of budget cutting in the face of a weak economy, and opposes cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits.”

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Mark Weisbrot at The Guardian:

Obama is currently coming under heavy fire for his reported choice of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary. Hagel wants to get out of Afghanistan soon, does not want a war with Iran, favors negotiations with Hamas, and supports cuts in military spending.

Not only the neo-conservatives, but some of the most powerful interests in the country, including the right wing of the pro-Israel lobby, have launched a smear campaign. But so far, Obama has not backed down. This could have something to do with the fact that he no longer has to run for re-election.

So, for the post of treasury secretary, to replace the outgoing Tim Geithner, Obama could afford to make another bold choice: Paul Krugman.

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