Monday, July 7, 2008

Some Economists are Republicans

John McCain's campaign released a statement signed by 300 economists endorsing his economic plan. Most of the big names are not surprising; many are people who have served in Republican administrations. Many are obscure, but a few I recognize and some I know - my graduate econometrics professor,* for one. Its like how Bob Frank felt when he got the news about Bernanke:
"When the news first came that he was a candidate to be named a Fed governor, I thought it was interesting that the Bush administration would nominate a Democrat," Mr. Frank said. "I was surprised. I worked with him and did not know he was a Republican."
So yes, some economists are Republicans (but most are not). Although the statement begins "we enthusiastically support John McCain's economic plan," I would venture that the signatories were motivated more by their general philosophical inclinations than by excitement over what he has been offering on the campaign trail.

On said trail, McCain descended further into incoherence today with the promise to balance the budget by 2013, despite his earlier promises for big tax cuts (which he promised despite opposing the Bush tax cuts as a Senator - he actually voted against them before he was for them...). The Times' Matthew Cooper writes:
As Senator John McCain kicked off a week of economic-themed campaigning here on Monday, it was apparent that some of the underlying tensions between the two schools that guide his economic thinking — the supply-siders who want to cut taxes and the deficit hawks who want to balance the budget — remain unresolved.

Mr. McCain has promised once again to balance the budget by the end of his first term in 2013, his advisers said Monday. They were reverting to an earlier pledge that Mr. McCain abandoned in April, when he proposed a series of costly tax cuts and, citing the ailing economy, said that it might take two terms to balance the budget.
See also Mark Thoma's comments.

McCain was also telling his Colorado audience about the inspiring entrepreneurs who gave us Crocs, which turns out to be a warmed-over example, and one about a company that's now going down the tubes; more croc-pot economic ideas from the Republicans! Besides, doesn't McCain know that sandals are for socialists? (see the sixth paragraph here).

*Perhaps when he heard McCain's plans would lead to an increase in inequality, he thought that meant more like Chebychev's.

Update: Underpants gnomery, says DeLong.

Update #2 (7/10): DeLong notes notable Republican economists absent from McCain's 300, while the Politico reports some signatories are not truly enthusiastic. See also EconomistMom and TPC's Howard Gleckman on the non-credibility of the balanced budget promise, and EconomistMom on the misleading press coverage.

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