Are Obama's Economic Policies Working Effectively?

Lawrence Mishel, Steve Rattner and Mark Zandi

Lawrence Mishel (from left), Steve Rattner and Mark Zandi celebrate their win of the Intelligence Squared U.S. debate on President Obama's economic policies at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 16. Chris Vultaggio hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Vultaggio

Coming Up

On Dec. 1, a panel of experts will debate the motion "America Is To Blame For Mexico's Drug War."

As the economy slowly begins to recover from the financial meltdown, should the Obama administration get credit for turning things around? Or has the administration failed to do what it takes to really help the economy?

Six experts recently examined President Obama's economic policies in an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. Three argued for the motion "Obama's Economic Policies Are Working Effectively," while three argued against. The latter team included former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who switched sides just days before the Oxford-style debate.

The audience at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts voted 32 percent in favor of the motion and 29 percent against in a vote before the Nov. 16 debate; 39 percent were undecided.

After the debate, 46 percent of the audience agreed that "Obama's Economic Policies Are Working Effectively," while 42 percent disagreed, and 12 percent remained undecided.

The debate was moderated by John Donvan, correspondent for ABC News' Nightline. The panelists were:


Lawrence Mishel came to the Economic Policy Institute in 1987 and served as its first research director, then as vice president and now president. He has researched, written and spoken widely on the economy and economic policy as it affects middle- and low-income families. He is principal author of The State of Working America, which provides an overview of the U.S. labor market and living standards.

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer i

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer argues against the motion "Obama's Economic Policies Are Working Effectively." Chris Vultaggio hide caption

itoggle caption Chris Vultaggio
Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer argues against the motion "Obama's Economic Policies Are Working Effectively."

Chris Vultaggio

Steve Rattner served as counselor to the secretary of the Treasury until July and led the administration's efforts to restructure the auto industry. Before joining the Treasury Department in February, he was a managing principal of Quadrangle Group LLC, a private investment firm with more than $6 billion of assets under management. Until March 2000, Rattner was with Lazard Freres & Co., where he served as deputy chairman and deputy chief executive officer. He is currently a fellow of Brown University and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mark Zandi is chief economist and co-founder of Moody's, where he directs the company's research and consulting activities. Moody's, a division of Moody's Analytics, provides economic research and consulting services to businesses, governments and other institutions. Zandi was an economic adviser to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, has provided advice to the Obama administration and regularly testifies in Congress. He is the author of Financial Shock, an expose of the subprime financial crisis.


James K. Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs of the University of Texas at Austin, as well as a professorship in government. He is a senior scholar with the Levy Economics Institute and chair of the Board of Economists for Peace and Security. Galbraith is the author of seven books, including The Predator State; writes a column for Mother Jones; and contributes to The American Prospect, The Nation and The Texas Observer.

Allan H. Meltzer is the Allan H. Meltzer University Professor of Political Economy at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume I: 1913-1951, a research work on the Federal Reserve System. He has been a member of the president's Economic Policy Advisory Board; an acting member of the president's Council of Economic Advisers; and a consultant to the Treasury Department and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Eliot Spitzer is the former governor of New York. He served eight years as the state's attorney general and was named "Crusader of the Year" by Time magazine for his settlement with 10 of the nation's largest securities firms over charges of misleading investors. As a prosecutor in the Rackets Bureau of the Manhattan district attorney's office, Spitzer served as lead attorney in a case that broke the Gambino family's stranglehold on New York's garment industry. He currently writes a biweekly column on finance and the economy for Slate.

The Intelligence Squared U.S. series is produced in New York City by The Rosenkranz Foundation.



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