Campaign Season Economics
By Arnold Kling
My latest essay says that it’s not pretty.
Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry managed to appeal to all four of the economically ignorant biases identified in Caplan’s paper. You could say that Kerry hit the economic illiteracy quadrifecta!
…it is not clear to me which candidate would end up executing better economic policies. It could very well be Kerry. Instead, my concern is with the economic rhetoric. Senator Kerry inundates us with pronouncements that are economically illiterate. And yet his supporters claim to be well-read, well-informed, and well-educated.
Also, this week’s economic posts on Carnival of the Capitalists discuss a number of current economic issues.
Kerry is wrong on many different economic things, including trade, employment, Social Security and health care, among others. Bush is wrong on one enormous thing: tax cuts and their effects on budget deficits and the national debt…
In response to news about Social Security, Kerry recently thundered, “When I am president there will be no decrease in Social Security benefits and no increase in (Social Security) taxes.” This stand is just another way of saying, “I am a coward who is going to push this issue forward into someone else’s presidency, even if it means any eventual solution will be much more difficult.” I know of few economists who could endorse Kerry’s position…
On trade, a strong majority of economists would opt for Bush’s espousal of trade liberalization over Kerry’s implicit protectionism. Yet, many are skeptical of the president’s true commitment to opening trade, given his quick resort to steel tariffs in his first term and their doubts about his willingness to confront domestic sectors such as cotton and sugar that will be hurt in any serious new trade agreements.
UPDATE: Richard Schmalensee, who is one of the professors who signed off on my dissertation, is voting for Kerry as the fiscal conservative in the race.
For Discussion. Today, the post-debate TV analysis is done by political spinners. If the analysis of economic issues were done by economists, would candidates be forced to upgrade their economic literacy?