TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Doug Krizner: In this election year, we know the economy is what most voters are concerned about. So Marketplace decided to talk to the people advising the presidential candidates on economics. This morning, we’re speaking with Austan Goolsbee, with Senator Barack Obama’s campaign. Professor Goolsbee, what are you recommending in these tough economic times?
Professor Austan Goolsbee: Well, in the short run I do think you need at least some significant insurance policy to try to prevent troubles in the housing and financial services spreading to the rest of the economy. I believe that that involves some kind of stimulus. Senator Obama has outlined a stimulus whose centerpiece is getting the money out the door right away and into the hands of the people who will use it. We’ve got to come together on a bipartisan basis and get that out the door right away.
Krizner: Well, let’s talk the individual, and let’s say the people who are in the upper income bracket. Should the Bush tax cuts be made permanent?
Goolsbee: My view has been that the tax cuts for high-income people that the Bush Administration put out, they weren’t needed, and as Senator Obama says, they weren’t even asked for. They were asked to be temporary by the president, and we ought to let them expire.
Krizner: The last time a Democratic administration was elected to the White House, deficit reduction was a priority. Where does that issue show up on your radar right now?
Goolsbee: Well, it’s clear with the massive fiscal hole of the last six or seven years, that’s not a problem you could fix in a day. Senator Obama has said, look, I don’t want to do anything that’s going to increase the deficit — everything we come up with has to be paid for. Those two things said, the third point I’d say about deficits is the long-run fiscal health of this country depends very much on us making key investments in, for example, college affordability, investing in the skills of our work force, investing in the infrastructure of the country.
Krizner: Do you believe that current trade policies, in terms of our key trading partners, are flawed? Has free trade essentially helped to weaken the U.S. economy?
Goolsbee: Look, those are two totally different questions. I’m an economist, so you know I’m going to say “no” to the second question — open markets are good. But I don’t think it helps when you open up trade agreements and see that they’re 2,000 pages long, and they look just like the tax code — that the first three pages are about opening markets, and then the next 1,997 pages are loopholes, giveaways, special protections for individual industries. I mean, that’s getting us pretty far from the case for open markets.
Krizner: Austan Goolsbee is the chief economic advisor to Senator Barack Obama. Professor Goolsbee, thanks so much for speaking with us.
Goolsbee: My pleasure.