Goodbye Goolsbee?

Sans Everything is an unusually cordial group blog. My colleagues and I agree on most issues, but not all. I believe I’m the only skeptic of our group when it comes to neoliberalism and the policies that are often described as “free trade” (but which are in fact managed trade agreements designed to bolster corporate power). For that reason, I’ve long wanted Barack Obama to fire his economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, an intelligent and outspoken neoliberal, even before Goolsbee seemed to embarrass the Obama campaign with a mini-scandal involving promises to the Canadian government about NAFTA. As the facts of the case scandal emerge, it’s clear that Goolsbee himself was the innocent party and the real culprit was most likely someone in the Harper government. So Goolsbee shouldn’t be fired for his causing embarrassment to Obama on the eve of last Tuesday’s primary. The real reason to wave goodbye to Goolsbee is because of his policies.

I was glad to see John Nicols make this case in the Nation:

Obama needs to get rid of that trade adviser, Austan Goolsbee, who was talking to the Canadians. In fact, the senator needs to ditch most of his economic-policy advisers, since they do not agree with what he is saying with regard to NAFTA, China trade and a host of related issues. The truth is that the Obama economic policy team is more Clintonite in its approach to a host of issues than the Clinton team. It’s time to bring Obama’s union backers, particularly representatives from UNITE-HERE and the Teamsters, into the mix.

Next, Obama needs to go to Pittsburgh and deliver a very serious, very detailed speech in which he makes it clear that he is the only remaining candidate who is fundamentally opposed to current U.S. trade policies — and that if he is elected he will drop the fast-track model for negotiating these deals. That speech should be delivered at the international headquarters of the United Steelworkers of America in the city’s downtown.

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