If you guessed Jason Furman, you are the winner. He was appointed by the president as the chairman of the council of economic advisors. There was a recent article in the Washington Post claiming him to be the wonkiest wonk. Are we sure we want him to be advising the president on economic matters. Here is a tidbit from that Washington Post article
At an event late last month in Washington, Furman displayed a chart showing how food stamps and other social programs had lowered poverty dramatically over the past half century. This was a big success, he said.
But the graph also showed that the economy itself had done nothing for the poor: Only government dollars had. Here he stressed that the economy needs to work better, so people can enjoy higher incomes without relying on the government’s assistance.
“When a few of you are here 50 years from now to talk about the 100th anniversary of the War on Poverty, if they show a graph that looks a lot like that,” Furman told the crowd, “. . . we will have really failed as an economy and as a society.”
In an article he wrote in 2005 about Wal-Mart he claims
There is little dispute that Wal-Mart’s price reductions have benefited the 120 million American workers employed outside of the retail sector. Plausible estimates of the magnitude of the savings from Wal-Mart are enormous – a total of $263 billion in 2004, or $2,329 per household.2 Even if you grant that Wal-Mart hurts workers in the retail sector – and the evidence for this is far from clear – the magnitude of any potential harm is small in comparison. One study, for example, found that the “Wal-Mart effect” lowered retail wages by $4.7 billion in 2000.
It sounds like the economy has helped the poor. Here is a graph from Mark Perry on America’s War on Poverty.
I don’t really see the “help” government dollars have done for the poor.