Coulda, Woulda, Shouldas From White House Alumni

Illustrations by David Johnson

My main criticism is that they took their eye off the ball in late 2009 and 2010. They started to think more about exit than about the fact that the economy was still operating far below capacity … I remember that fall of 2009 as a very frustrating one. It was very clear to me that the economy was still struggling, but the will to do more to help it had died.
—Christina Romer
Former chair of the Council of Economic ­Advisers, speaking at Stanford University in May.

The president was told that there was no danger of doing too much fiscal stimulus, and that we should do as much as we could from an economic point of view. It was entirely clear … that a larger fiscal program would have larger multiplier effects. The constraints were political.
—Larry Summers
Former director of the National Economic Council, quoted in the Times in May.

There will be no WPA-type programs in our near future. There was no appetite for them in the Obama admin in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression and there’s a lot less now … I stressed above the importance of making those arguments, and I frequently made them myself.
—Jared Bernstein
Former chief economist and economic-policy adviser for the vice-president, writing on his personal blog in May.

Treasury apparently has chosen to ignore rather than support real efforts at reform … to simplify or shrink the most complex financial institutions. In the final analysis, it has been Treasury’s broken promises that have turned TARP—which was instrumental in saving the financial system at a relatively modest cost to taxpayers—into a program commonly viewed as little more than a giveaway to Wall Street executives.
—Neil Barofsky
Special Treasury Department inspector general, in a Timesop-ed published in March, the day he resigned.

Coulda, Woulda, Shouldas From White House Alumni