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Obama taps former Clinton aide for economy team

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama is bolstering his economic team for the November White House race against Republican John McCain and has hired an official from President Bill Clinton’s administration to be his economic policy director, the Obama campaign said on Monday.

Barack Obama speaks during a Chicago 2016 Olympics rally in Chicago June 6, 2008. REUTERS/John Gress

Jason Furman, a 37-year-old expert on fiscal policy, worked as a staff economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration and also was a senior director for the National Economic Council. He has also worked at the World Bank.

Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the campaign felt it made sense to expand the economic team at this phase in the election contest.

Obama, who clinched the Democratic nomination last week, has begun an economic tour through states like North Carolina and Missouri that are likely to be battlegrounds in the November election.

Furman, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, is an associate of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin through their work at the Hamilton Project, a forum for economic policy ideas at the Brookings Institution think tank.

Furman has also worked closely with Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz. The two co-wrote a paper on the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s.

Furman is joining the Obama campaign as a staff member. He will work closely with Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist, who is a non-staff senior adviser to Obama and has played a major role in helping to shape the candidates economic plans.

Furman told Reuters he shares an emphasis with Rubin on “market-oriented policies and fiscal discipline.” Obama has criticized President George W. Bush’s tax cuts as fiscally reckless.

The Illinois senator has attacked McCain for his opposition to Democratic proposals for rolling back the tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. McCain has labeled Obama’s economic policies as “tax-and-spend.”

Obama said in a speech in Raleigh, North Carolina, that he plans to offer more details on his long-term agenda for the economy as he campaigns next week.

Editing by David Wiessler