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Saturday, July 12, 2008

"What If the Candidates Pandered to Economists?"

Greg Mankiw:

What if the Candidates Pandered to Economists?, by N. Gregory Mankiw, Economic View, NY Times: In the months to come, John McCain and Barack Obama will be vying for the support of various voting blocs. It is safe to say, however, that one group won’t get much attention: economists.

The American Economic Association represents only a small fraction of 1 percent of the electorate. In every election season, we economists expect to be largely ignored, and, unlike many of our other forecasts, that one often turns out to be right.

But suppose it were otherwise. ... What would it take to put the nation’s economists solidly behind a candidate?

On many issues, from universal health insurance to increased taxes on the rich, economists do not speak with a single voice. But on some issues we do. Here is an eight-plank platform designed to attract a majority of economists. It is based on discussions I have had with my colleagues — call them focus groups, if you’d like — and polls of my profession:

SUPPORT FREE TRADE...

OPPOSE FARM SUBSIDIES...

LEAVE OIL COMPANIES AND SPECULATORS ALONE...

TAX THE USE OF ENERGY...

RAISE THE RETIREMENT AGE...

INVITE MORE SKILLED IMMIGRANTS...

LIBERALIZE DRUG POLICY...

RAISE FUNDS FOR ECONOMIC RESEARCH...

You might view this policy as nothing more than a way to buy a few votes. Perhaps you view economists as mere mortals, as tempted as anyone else by special interests. Maybe you would regard more funding for economic research as not very different from the billions thrown every year at farmers.

If you are that cynical, I won’t try to dissuade you.

Ignoring the details that follow each proposal, there's one I'm not sure about, so seven out of eight for me (see here).

    Posted by on Saturday, July 12, 2008 at 03:51 PM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (106)

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