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Bush names Rosen head of economic council

Helping sell plan for Social Security will be a priority

WASHINGTON -- President Bush promoted tax- and government-finance expert Harvey Rosen yesterday to chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the Bush administration said.

One of Rosen's top responsibilities will be helping the administration craft a strategy to sell Bush's Social Security plan for individual investment accounts, an effort facing resistance in Congress. However, Rosen has told associates he may return to Princeton University in the summer.

Rosen, 55, has been a member of the economic council since October 2003 and served in the Treasury Department in Bush's father's administration.

He joined the council from Princeton and replaces Gregory Mankiw, who stepped down Friday and will return to teaching at Harvard University.

Analysts said the White House was keen to name a council chairman with enough political savvy to avoid some of the controversies that marked Mankiw's tenure.

Mankiw raised the ire of some lawmakers during the 2004 election year with a forecast for jobs that Democrats derided as overly optimistic.

He also angered both Democratic and Republican lawmakers by suggesting that the outsourcing of jobs to workers overseas may benefit the economy.

Burton Malkiel, author of the investment guide "A Random Walk Down Wall Street," described Rosen as someone who combines common sense with in-depth economics expertise and is not ideological in his approach.

"He has a very strong belief in the efficacy of the free market but he is no way an ideologue," Malkiel said.

Bush still needs to fill one vacancy on the three-person council. Sources said Federal Reserve governor Ben Bernanke, who had been viewed as a candidate to succeed Mankiw, was still being considered for a position on the council. Bush's designation of Rosen as the council chairman does not require Senate confirmation since he was already confirmed as a member of the council.

Rosen served as deputy assistant secretary for tax analysis in the Treasury Department under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1991.

Apart from the stint at Treasury, Rosen has taught at Princeton since 1974. He was chairman of Princeton's economics department from 1993 to 1996 and was codirector of the Center for Economic Policy Studies before taking a leave of absence to serve on the economic council.

Rosen has also been heavily involved in the Bush administration's drive to tighten oversight of the so-called government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Rosen did his undergraduate work at the University of Michigan and holds a PhD from Harvard University.

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