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Obama advisers were paid commentators during campaign

Policing this practice would be difficult, but it seems to me that ethical people would see it as a conflict of interest:

Some of President Obama’s top economic advisers were paid, in some cases handsomely, for their commentaries in 2008 about tax policy, government bailouts of financial institutions, global trade and the economic recession, according to financial disclosure forms made public by the White House late Friday.

OK, it’s nice that we know now, but it would have been better to know during the campaign which of the paid pundits were advising a presidential candidate.

The irony is that one of the four, Lawrence Summers, along with his former boss in Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department, Robert Rubin, and former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, are largely responsible for the economic meltdown. Back in 1998, the three colluded to silence Brooksley Born, then chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who warned Congress of the potential devastation from unregulated trading in derivatives.

Liberal publications like The Nation and The New York Times wrote about this five months ago, arguing that candidate Obama should get the voice of someone other than Larry Summers on economic policy.

Perhaps it’s not as surprising that Summers was paid by major media outlets as that he he still has the ear of the president. And — not very surprisingly — depending on who you ask, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is either a protege of Summers or of Rubin.

But back to point: at the very least, paying campaign advisers for their opinions creates the appearance that the networks and newspapers who hired Summers, Jared Bernstein, Austan Goolsbee, and Jason Furman were in the tank for Obama.

What am I saying? Of course they were.

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