Sorry, Paul Krugman fans. The Nobel Prize winner has taken himself out of the running for becoming Treasury Secretary.
"It really is a bad idea," he wrote in a New York Times blog post on Monday. The job is beyond his abilities, Krugman admitted. He'd rather stay "Mr. Outside, an annoying if sympathetic voice they can't ignore," Krugman wrote.
"An administration job, no matter how senior, would actually reduce my influence, leaving me unable to say publicly what I really think and all too probably finding myself unable to make headway in internal debates," Krugman wrote.
The idea that President Barack Obama should nominate Krugman as Treasury Secretary has been gaining steam. Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, wrote in an op-ed in The Guardian on Saturday that Krugman would be a good pick because he "would be tough to oppose on any substantive grounds" and "has been right about the major problems facing our economy." A MoveOn petition calling for the nomination garnered 185,893 signatures as of 9:30 a.m. on Monday. The petition to Obama reads:
We urge you to nominate Paul Krugman for Treasury Secretary. Krugman will protect Social Security and Medicare from benefit cuts, promote policies to create jobs, and help defeat the austerity dogma in Washington and around the world.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner plans to resign by the end of January, before the Obama administration's fight with Congress over raising the debt ceiling is likely to be settled, according to Bloomberg. Jacob Lew, Obama's chief of staff, is rumored to be the frontrunner for the nomination. Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, also was a contender but said no, according to Bloomberg.
Although it would be a stretch to call Krugman anti-Obama, he has been critical of the President. Most recently, he wrote in a New York Times blog post last week that if Obama gives in to Congressional Republicans' demands for spending cuts because they are holding the debt ceiling hostage, "he will go down in history as the wimp who threw it all away."
Krugman's also been critical of the administration's stimulus measures for not going far enough. He has written in The New York Times that the 2009 stimulus was too small and that the administration should pursue another fiscal stimulus rather than give in to austerity.