- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 2, 2014

With the U.S. economy enduring a free-fall in the first quarter, President Obama invited former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other economists to the White House for a private lunch Wednesday.

It’s believed to be the first meeting between the president and Mr. Bernanke since the former fed chair left his post in January to be replaced by Janet Yellen. Some of the economists meeting with the president have a conservative outlook, including Mr. Bernanke, who was appointed by President George W. Bush.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said it was “not a coincidence” that the president was meeting with conservative economists and said Mr. Obama wants to talk to people “who aren’t constrained by politics in terms of their thinking.”

The president is “making sure that he’s consulting a wide variety of perspectives,” Mr. Earnest said, adding that the closed lunch would be “an intellectual discussion.”

The economy contracted by 2.9 percent in the first quarter, its worst performance since 2009.

The full guest list, as provided by the White House, is: Mr. Bernanke; Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics, Harvard University; Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University; Robert Hall, Robert and Carole McNeil Joint Professor of Economics, Stanford University; Kevin Hassett, State Farm James Q. Wilson Chair in American Politics and Culture, American Enterprise Institute; Melissa Kearney, Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland, and Luigi Zingales, Robert C. McCormack Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance, University of Chicago Booth School of Business.