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New top Fed official has been critic of Biden agenda: ‘Just stop. Seriously’

Arkansas Rep. Bruce Westerman and former U.S. Treasury official Michael Faulkender discuss America’s economy and the job market on ‘The Evening Edit.’

Austan Goolsbee, who was named as the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's new president Thursday, has regularly participated in a University of Chicago poll of economists, often siding against Biden administration economic positions.

Goolsbee's voting record on the poll has shown stark disagreements with President Biden on student debt relief, electric vehicle tax credits, price gouging and a windfall tax for oil companies. Goolsbee has served as an economics professor at the University of Chicago for several years and was previously the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration.

In a September survey that he responded to, Goolsbee voted in favor of a prompt stating that Biden's student loan relief plan was likely to cause "substantially higher tuition fees" at some universities. In his response, Goolsbee said the plan would impact for-profit schools the most and that higher tuition would be caused by the income-driven repayment rule allowing low-income borrowers to have lower monthly payments.

Biden announced in August that his administration would provide a student loan handout of $10,000 to individuals earning less than $125,000 per year, or $250,000 jointly, and $20,000 of relief to Pell Grant recipients. Following the announcement, the White House pushed back on criticism regarding its price tag and impact on future costs.

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Austan Goolsbee

Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago professor and former White House official, speaks during the Obama Foundation “Democracy Forum” in New York City on Nov. 17. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid / Reuters Photos)

"So, look, this — we have taken steps on — on college — colleges raising tuition," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Aug. 25. "This is something that the Department of Education, Secretary Cardona takes very seriously. He's been closely watching, and he's going to hold colleges accountable for raising costs without delivering additional value."

"So we are going to try to do our best to keep those costs lower as we talk about tuition. But — but if we're going to do more and what — we just have to see what that number looks like," she continued.

In July, Goolsbee voted that a $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicle purchases was "regressive." A so-called regressive tax is one that punishes low-income taxpayers disproportionately, according to the Tax Foundation.

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Meanwhile, Biden has been a proponent of the electric vehicle tax credit and extended it via the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Biden stands at presidential podium

President Biden delivers remarks alongside Education Secretary Miguel Cardona regarding student loan debt forgiveness on Aug. 24. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Goolsbee also voted in March that he disagreed both that a windfall tax on oil company profits would protect Americans from higher energy costs and that a gas tax suspension would lead to lower pump prices.

Biden, though, has been a vocal supporter of a windfall tax on oil companies, which he has blamed for higher gas prices in the wake of the Ukraine war. He has also asked Congress to suspend the federal gas tax.

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"They — they have the opportunity to do that — lowering prices for consumers at the pump," Biden remarked during a speech on Oct. 31. "You know, if they don’t, they’re going to pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions." 

"My team will work with Congress to look at these op- — these options that are available to us and others. It’s time for these companies to stop war profiteering, meet their responsibilities to this country and give the American people a break and still do very well."

President Biden and record-high gas prices

Biden has backed both a windfall tax on oil companies and a suspension of the federal gas tax, two policies that Goolsbee said would be ineffective. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Goolsbee also pushed back on a January 2022 survey question about whether price controls could help reduce inflation levels. He said he strongly disagreed with the premise that controlling the price of goods would keep inflation low.

"Just stop. Seriously," he stated in response to the question.

In May, House Democrats passed the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, legislation that would give Biden the power to issue an emergency declaration banning energy prices that are set in an "excessive or exploitative manner."

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And in May 2021, Goolsbee said that pandemic-era unemployment insurance included in the American Rescue Plan signed by Biden wouldn't broadly lead to higher incomes for workers. Biden had argued that the extension of unemployment benefits gave workers bargaining power over prospective employers when negotiating wages.

"Pay them more," Biden told reporters in June 2021 when asked about unemployment benefits. "This is an employees’ bargaining chip now. [Employers] are going to have to compete and start paying hard-working people a decent wage."

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