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Press Briefing by Chief of Staff Leon Panetta

June 28, 1995

The Briefing Room

1:34 P.M. EDT

MR. PANETTA: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to announce that the President is today naming Joseph Stiglitz to be Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Joe, as many of you know, is currently a member of the Council. And to replace Joe on the Council, the President intends to nominate Alicia Munnell, who is currently Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy.

Joe is on leave from Stanford University, where he has been Professor of Economics since 1988. He was previously a Professor of Economics at Princeton University, and before that at Yale University, and at Oxford. Joe earned his B.A. from Amherst College and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Joe is recognized throughout the academic community as one of our country's most brilliant economists. The President highly values his advice. He was very active in working on the economic plans, the economic strategy of the administration. And he is pleased -- the President is very pleased -- to elevate him to the Chairmanship of the Council.

As Assistant Treasury Secretary, Alicia Munnell has advised the Secretary of the economic effects of tax and budgetary policy, has developed Treasury's economic projections, and has worked very closely with OMB, the CEA and other governmental agencies in the administration's economic forecast. Before joining Treasury, she served as Senior Vice President and Director of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, where she conducted extensive research in the areas of tax policy, Social Security pensions, public capital, spending, and the extent of racial discrimination in home mortgage lending. She is the author of numerous articles and books on policy issues. She earned her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

Now, if I could say a word about maintaining the office to which they have been appointed. The CEA provides the President with the kind of objective macroeconomic advice that is absolutely essential to a president in making critical decisions, be they on the budget, on trade, labor, business, environmental, and a host of other economic issues.

The Council of Economic Advisers is important not only to the President but to the country. If Congress eliminates the CEA, as the House subcommittee proposed to do, it will increase the likelihood of future presidents, Democratic or Republican, making decisions that harm our economy and harm the American people. It's that simple.

This is not a partisan issue. This is not a partisan issue. Former CEA Chairman to Republican presidents, including President Reagan's Chairman, Martin Feldstein, and President Nixon's Chairman, Herbert Stein, have denounced the idea of eliminating the CEA. Herb Stein today, in the New York Times, called it, quote, "a stupid idea," unquote. Spoken like an economist. And Martin Feldstein, writing in today's Wall Street Journal, called it deeply disturbing.

Let me quote his article -- and I quote: "eliminating the CEA would deny the current and future presidents the impartial and professional advice that can contribute to better economic policies and avoid bad ones." He added, "The CEA needs to be part of the decision-making process and its voice needs to be heard at the highest level of government."

Herb Stein, Martin Feldstein, a number of other economists all agree that the Council of Economic Advisers is an important and valuable and necessary institution, no matter who is president.

The presence of Chairman of somebody in the stature of Joe Stiglitz and his predecessors, along now with Alicia Munnell and Martin Baily, I think attest to the importance of that office.

So I hope, and the President certainly hopes, that the Congress will overturn this shortsighted action and that we can proceed to receive the kind of valuable advice that will be provided by Joe and the others at the CEA.

Q: I assume you will not let that go forward if Congress does not overturn that and the other micromanaging in that appropriations bill.

MR. PANETTA: That's correct. We have indicated to them not to micromanage that aspect of the White House.

Q: The President would veto that.

MR. PANETTA: The President sent a very clear signal that this is unacceptable.

Q: Mr. Stiglitz -- Dr. Stiglitz, what do you think of this auto agreement?

MR. MCCURRY: He's thoroughly analyzing it -- (laughter) -- and will provide his astute economic analysis to the President and then to you appropriately. (Laughter.)

END 1:40 P.M. EDT

William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Chief of Staff Leon Panetta Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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