As Austan Goolsbee leaves the Obama Administration, what will change?

As Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and in various other roles as a close adviser to Obama, Austan Goolsbee was thought of as an influential member of the Obama Administration. What will change now that he is leaving? These are just a few data points from his recent and not so recent past.

In an interview with John Stewart last week, Goolsbee referred to the various bilateral free trade agreements as part of a bipartisan consensus of things to promote U.S. jobs.

In a 2008 flap about Obama’s real views on trade policy, and with regard to NAFTA in particular, Goolsbee was a campaign aide, and was caught assuring Canadian officials that “Mr. Obama’s protectionist stand on the trail was ‘more reflective of political maneuvering than policy.’”

That these trade deals are often largely about intellectual property rights and pharmaceutical drug price, is rarely mentioned.

Here is a Goolsbee video talking about the patent system. His main point is that we have to make the patent review process faster, and to allow the USPTO to keep its fees. In terms of the major issues in patent reform, its pretty much a content free talk, or perhaps, an effort to present a relatively minor bill that has been stripped of almost any meaningful “reform” as something actually important, and an administration achievement.

Another data point for Goolsbee is this 2006 New York Times op-ed, attacking a French effort to provide for more interoperability of the Apple digital music services. This is a sample from the article.

Even worse, sharing the codes could make it easier for hackers to unravel Apple’s FairPlay software. Without strong copy protection, labels would not supply as much new music. Indeed, Apple argues that sharing the codes could make the pirates’ job easy enough to wipe out the legal market. Agitators might claim that this is the very goal of the French bill: why else would it also reduce the maximum fine for consumers caught illegally downloading music from 300,000 euros (about $371,000) to just 38 euros (less than $47)?

In this 1998 paper, Goolsbee argued that federal grants for R&D mostly drove up salaries of researchers, and government funded research crowded out private sector hiring of R&D staff.