11 of 26 people found the following review helpful
clinton/obama white house feuds in book form,
This review is from: The Escape Artists: How Obama's Team Fumbled the Recovery (Hardcover)
This is a bad book. But the book ironically and unintentionally points to the true problem in the Obama Administration. Since elected, Obama has been overseeing what can best be considered a coalition government with the Clintons. Rather than creating an administration of his people loyal to him, Obama created an administration with rival camps inside. And nowhere did that divided white house create more problems than in the area of economic policy.
The author of this book rather obviously takes sides in a blatent way. The book might have been better titled "the tears of Christina Romer". She was correct about everything. She the poor frail victim. Her life was just soo tough. I mean she actually had to work long hours in the middle of a massive economic crisis. She had to attend way too many meetings. And we as a country were so ungreatful in the face of her genius. As much as I dislike Summers & company and would normally have sympathy for anyone feuding with them, the book gradually made me dislike Romer just as much.
There is nothing added in terms of the basic understanding of the issues. Its all down to how many dollars to throw at the economy to magically fix things. The deeper (and more important question) of how to stimulate the economy with money is addressed in a meaningful way. Equally important as the question of how much stimulus was necessary was the (generally ignored) question of what form that stimulus should take. In my opinion, the stimulus was deployed in the worst possible ways to create economic growth. Too many nickel and dime tax cuts, too much money getting spread around as patronage dollars to institutions and too much money on ineffective projects like road construction where lots of money creates few jobs.
The author also rather poorly understands the dynamics between the president and the democratic congress. Parts of the democratic party in the house and senate is nowhere near as far to the left as the national party. Many of them rightly feared for the their political futures if they got out ahead of their voters on issues like stimulus spending. And the massacre in the 2010 election showed that their concerns were correct. Nancy and Harry would always sign up for anything Obama wanted. But that doesn't mean the party in the house and senate will follow the leaders regardless.
Might Obama have found a more effective policy? Probably. Was that policy the more-stimulus and tax-hikes-on-the-middle-class that certain people wanted? Probably not. Stimulus has been presented as a cure-all for the US economy but the Japanese experience after their property bubble burst suggests that its not capable of the magic some believe in.
Noam Scheiber in the book somewhat tries to be Bob Woodward. But he lacks Woodward's ability to keep everyone happy by giving everyone their say and not overtly getting behind one player. We don't any more books that are just cannon fodder for the Clintonistia/Obamite feuds inside the administration.