President Trump plans to name economist Tomas Philipson as the next head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, according to senior administration officials.
Philipson has worked at the White House for nearly two years as a senior economist after serving briefly on the transition team. Best known for his research on health care, Philipson has been a key player in the Trump administration’s efforts to lower drug prices and push back against Democrats’ proposals for a Medicare-for-all system.
Trump intends to appoint Philipson, but the timing of the announcement remains unclear, people familiar with the matter said, as the president is in Japan and South Korea this weekend for trade and national security talks with foreign leaders. Philipson would replace the outgoing council chairman, Kevin Hassett, a tax expert, potentially signaling an heightened focus ahead on health-care issues.
Politico first reported that Philipson was likely to get the job.
Last year, the CEA released a report on “The Opportunity Costs of Socialism," which said a public health system like Medicare-for-all would provide worse care and require half the federal government’s $4.4 trillion budget each year. On Friday, the CEA said Trump’s regulatory rollback will pay off for years to come, increasing a typical American household’s income by $3,100 a year after about a decade from more growth and productivity. Many Democrats argue that these estimates are too high.
“Deregulation is the cornerstone of the president’s pro-growth economic policies that has been implemented since he took office,” Philipson said Friday on a call with reporters.
Born and raised in Sweden, Philipson earned his master’s degree and PhD in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, the president’s alma mater. Philipson, a U.S. citizen, has had a long career in academia and public service.
In the Bush administration, he served as a senior adviser to the head of the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He later advised the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and was on the steering committee for Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative when he was vice president.
Philipson is a professor of public policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and directed the health economics program at the Becker Friedman Institute. He has won some of the top awards for research in health-care economics.
The U.S. Senate must confirm the CEA chair, which has typically been considered a Cabinet-level role, although Trump demoted it for his administration. Founded in 1946, the CEA is a team of economists who advise the president on how policy will impact the economy. Former CEA chairs include Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and former Federal Reserve chairs Alan Greenspan, Ben S. Bernanke and Janet L. Yellen.