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Obama taps Alan Krueger for White House economist post

Updated at 11:46 a.m. ET

Obama: Economy remains ongoing challenge for U.S.

President Obama tapped a former member of his administration to be the top economist in the White House. If confirmed by the Senate, Princeton University economist Alan Krueger will become chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, where Mr. Obama said he will help with the "urgent mission" of improving the economy.

"I rely on the Council of Economic Advisers to provide unvarnished analysis and recommendations... based on the best evidence," Mr. Obama said. "Based on what's going to do the most good for the most people in this country... And that's more important than ever right now."

The labor economist left the Obama administration last fall after serving as an economic policy official under Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. If confirmed to lead the CEA, he would succeed Austan Goolsbee, who left the post earlier this month to return to the University of Chicago.

Mr. Obama today praised Krueger's "wealth of experience," calling him "one of the nation's leading economists." While serving at the Treasury Department, Krueger worked on the economic analysis of a variety of programs, including the Small Business Lending Fund and the car allowance rebate system known as "cash for clunkers."

A White House official says the CEA's long-delayed "mid-term" review of the U.S. economy will likely be released this week, CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer reports.

The nomination also comes ahead of the jobs speech Mr. Obama plans to deliver after Labor Day, as pressure mounts on the president to improve the 9.1 percent unemployment rate.

Mr. Obama said today his speech next week will lay out a series of steps Congress can take to jumpstart economic growth. "My hope and expectation is that we can put country before party and get something done for the American people," he said.

Congress created the council, which is usually staffed with three academic economists, to provide advice for the president on the economic impact of government policies. President Bill Clinton created the National Economic Council in 1993 to coordinate economic policies in the same way the National Security Council coordinates national security policy among the different agencies repsonsible for making decisions. The relative influence of the CEA chair and the NEC director over the past two decades has depended on the personalities involved and their relationship with the president.

Krueger is more likely to push for an active government response to the troubles facing the economy than Goolsbee. Krueger would be Mr. Obama's third CEA chair. Christina Romer left the post in late 2010 to return to the University of California, Berkeley.