Favorite "Liberal" Economist
By David Henderson
In the 1990s, before Paul Krugman became a regular columnist for the New York Times, my friend Alan Reynolds referred to Krugman as “my favorite Keynesian economist.” What he had in mind, I think, was Krugman’s great popular articles on trade in which he criticized trade barriers and defended the right of people in poor countries to work for low wages (but wages that exceeded those they could otherwise earn), a right that (http://www.davidrhenderson.com/articles/1096_thecaseforsweatshops.html) many in the United States were trying to deny them. Krugman was one of my favorites too. In an article I wrote after he won the Nobel prize, I stated:
Unfortunately, although his writing in the 1990s was highly educational, Krugman’s columns in the New York Times have often been the opposite. He often heaps scorn on and challenges the motives of those who disagree with him. For example, in a September 14, 2003, article titled “The Tax-Cut Con,” Krugman took a lot of space to attack the motives of those who advocated tax cuts, but very little to actually analyze the 2001 tax cut. The closest he came was to point out that most of the benefits of the tax cut went to the highest-income people. But he didn’t mention two other relevant facts: (1) almost everyone got about the same percent tax cut; and (2) high-income people pay a disproportionate share of taxes. Those two facts together mean, mathematically, that the highest-income people will get a large percent of the benefits of the tax cut. This is the kind of simple arithmetic point that the Krugman of the 1990s would have made. I miss him.
Dan Klein and Harika Ann Barlett have documented the kinds of articles Krugman now writes.
But enough about Krugman. Let’s have some fun. Here’s my question:
Who’s your favorite “liberal” economist and why?
By “liberal,” of course, I mean the corrupted American sense of the word, not the European sense. In Europe, “liberal” still means classical liberal or libertarian. When I say “why,” I mean tell what you like about him/her. It might be specific things the person has said, written, or done. You can also tell a couple of things you don’t like, but be sparing with that or otherwise this could quickly degenerate. Civility please.
I’ll start with mine: Alice Rivlin. I like how she pushed for separating the short-term parts of Congress’s stimulus package from the long-term, expand-government-permanently parts. I also like the fact that she was an internal critic of the Clinton health-care plan in 1993 and 1994.