Saturday, March 15, 2008

Economic Advisors

Which economists are the presidential CANDIDATES LISTENING TO? Senator McCain's advisor is Douglas Holtz-Eakin:
"Nevertheless, Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and former chief economist on President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, is well-respected among deficit hawks for his positions on less-than-hip issues like entitlement reform, for which he's advocated early and often.

In his view, the sooner the long-term shortfalls in Medicare and Social Security are addressed, the better for the economy. Shoring up both programs would involve tough choices when it comes to spending cuts, Holtz-Eakin has said, a route he believes would be more effective than tax increases. Both he and other economists estimate the economy is not likely to grow enough to offset the mandatory spending pressures that will build as Baby Boomers retire."
I agree that Medicare and Social Security are among the most important issues for Congress and the President to deal with.

Senator Obama's advisor is Austan Goolsbee:
But he is used to the politically fraught debate over how much to tax high-income Americans. In his estimate, the sky won't fall if the top tax rate returns to 39.6% from the current 35%.

In one of his New York Times columns, Goolsbee points to data showing income for the top 1% of earners rose disproportionately relative to everyone else both when tax rates fell and when they rose.

"Seeing the same pattern ... indicates that tax cuts weren't responsible. It suggests that cuts for high-income taxpayers likely gave windfalls to those whose incomes were already rising sharply because of broader market forces," he wrote.
I don't like an emphasis on taxing the rich, nor do I warm up to the idea that taking less money from anybody, rich or poor, should be called a "windfall."

Senator Clinton's advisor is Gene Sperling:
In his book "The Pro-Growth Progressive: An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity," Sperling calls for balancing the advantages of a global economy with the goals of protecting workers.

"With hundreds of millions of new middle-class consumers coming into the world economy, we should be confident that in the long run America will win more than it loses from an open global economy," he writes. "What practical options do we have between simply assuming greater globalization will lift all boats, and resorting to self-defeating protectionism?"
I haven't read Sperling's book, and I'm not sure this quote tells me very much about his policy view. But I like his reference to protectionism as self-defeating, and I can also agree "America will win more that it loses from an open global economy." Winning more than losing is probably a view that is a bit too weak for me.

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