In light of the expected naming of Kevin Hassett to head the White House Council of Economic Advisers, it is important to remember the value of economists (and other eggheads more broadly) in policy discussions. During the 2016 campaign and his subsequent administration, Donald Trump has been consistently insulated from serious academic economists in a way that stands out from past candidates and presidents. With the exception of Peter Navarro, himself far outside the mainstream economic thinking on trade, Trump has never demonstrated an affinity for economists and the valuable insight they provide. One of the great virtues of economic thinking is that it requires a consideration of effects beyond the first order and an aversion to bumper sticker simplicity. Perhaps the decision to name Hassett to this position reflects some opening for reasoned economic thinking to creep into the White House. I won't be surprised if that is being too optimistic.
Sendhil Mullainathan1 of Harvard has a timely piece in The New York Times on the importance of economists in policymaking. The relevance of economic thinking goes beyond the obvious applications like taxes and stimulus projects.
Economists have long been a source of annoyance for presidents. Ask Harry Truman. Those who are serious about their profession are no fun for policymakers looking for simple answers. That is exactly why they are necessary.
1 Mullainathan is the co-author of the classic study looking at labor market racial discrimination with regards to "African American" and "White" names. Well worth reading.