Voices of Power Transcript: Austan Goolsbee, Economic Adviser to President Obama

White House economist Austan Goolsbee talks about unemployment, the deficit, and Jon and Kate plus eight.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009; 9:04 PM

LOIS ROMANO: Welcome, Dr. Austan Goolsbee, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers and the chief economist for the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Thanks for joining us.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: Thank you for having me.

ROMANO: So I have spent the past couple of days reading all about you, your five page résumé and watching you on "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," and it seems that you're just having way too much fun for a government economist.

GOOLSBEE: I don't know. I don't know that that's the right description.

I mean, it's been exhilarating.

Boy, the last year my thing is if there ever was a dog year, that was the dog year. I mean, to think where it was a year ago to now and all of the unbelievable - I mean, the conditions were terrible when we first came into office. You know, the top jobs were filled, but all of the under layers hadn't been filled with anybody. So everybody's doing sort of three, four different jobs. It was certainly an experience.

ROMANO: And this is your first stint in government?


ROMANO: So what did you find you were naive about?

GOOLSBEE: Pretty much everything. I just keep at it. You ask anybody my catch phrases. "Is this normal?" "Is this what it's always like?" You know, it's been pretty different from being an economics professor, I guess. Let me put it that way.

Well, you know, we're working for the government, but the main differences are the standard of evidence in academics is obviously extremely high, but you also have the luxury of time, and, in general, you don't have the luxury of time in the government and especially in the middle of the deepest recession since 1929, where you're just trying to prevent us from going into meltdown.

ROMANO: Well, what have you learned about the politics of the economy?

CONTINUED     1                 >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company