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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Menendez: "Thank God" Economists Don't Make Public Policy

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is a coauthor with Clinton on the gas tax bill:

To me, the claims being made about this proposal are the same as saying tax cuts pay for themselves. Even if it has popular appeal, even if it wins votes and elections, economists are in wide agreement in saying that the proposal is misleading as stated by the campaign, and generally a bad idea. When literally all the experts around you are telling you that what you are saying is misleading (at best), yet you declare you are going to say it anyway, that’s no better than the Laffer curve stuff. Sure, it’s not much money, but what if this were attacking Iran instead and she declared she was just going to do it anyway? That’s a bigger deal, and refusing to listen to experts - dismissing them as out of touch and elitist - tells us something important.

I have refused, for the most part, to get into Dem vs. Dem issues, and I’ve focused on McCain, but the statement she made irked me. Economics has been undermined enough, and part of it has come from people at think tanks and elsewhere who aren't economists, but pretend to be, promoting ideas like tax cuts are self-financing in op-eds, TV appearances, the NRO, and elsewhere. It has confused people, the media turns it into a he said-she said issue rather than denouncing the falsehoods and misleading statements, and people are left confused and wondering if economists know what they are talking about. When Republicans do this, it ticks me off. Economics has been undermined enough by clowns pretending to be economists, and I won’t help our side undermine the profession even further.

If they want to do public policy without talking to economists, good luck with that. I'm tired of being told I don't understand how average Americans feel. The point here is that this is a lousy way to help people. It's not that we don't care, or don't understand, it's that we do care and understand all to well and we'd like to see policies put into place that actually have a chance to help people. Promising things that aren't likely to happen - telling people they will get relief when it will likely be a pittance (the $70 figure they cite is not supported by the underlying economics) - simply leads to disappointment and disenchantment with politicians. All we are asking is that promises have a chance to be realized. Let's help the people who need help, but let's do it in a way that is effective rather than in a way that plays off their difficulties and fears, but does not really address their needs.

    Posted by on Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 10:35 AM in Economics, Environment, Oil, Taxes | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (98)


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