November 9, 2008

Time for Obama to move out of the lefty-senator, campaign-promiser role and listen to economists.

Harvard econ-prof Greg Mankiw offers prez-elect Obama 4 items of advice on economics.

1. "Listen to your economists... They will often give you advice quite different from what you will hear from congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid."

2. "Embrace some Republican ideas." That's what Bill Clinton did.

3. "Pay attention to the government’s budget constraint." You can't give people all those things you promised during the campaign when "the laws of arithmetic are ignored."

4. "Recognize your past mistakes." You were a lefty senator. The time for that is over. Listen to your economic experts who will tell you why.

34 comments:

Expat(ish) said...

1> Old joke about jews works for economists: Four economists, five opinions. You chose your economists post-hoc to match your world view anyway.

2> Good advice, P(event) approaching zero, for lots of obvious reasons.

3> Hahahahahaahaha.

4> What mistakes? Really, what mistakes? From state senator to president in four years?

One of four is good advice. Pretty good for a econ prof.

-XC

John Althouse Cohen said...

What mistakes? Really, what mistakes?

So you didn't click on the link?

LarsPorsena said...

Old saw:
If you laid all economists end-to-end they still wouldn't reach a conclusion.

Expat(ish) said...

@Lars - Ha!

Alternative version: If you laid all the economists end to end it would be boring. And messy.

@John: Why would getting elected on what is basically a milder version of his political past inform him of mistakes. I've learned, with children, not to give advice when they're not listening. Ditto here.

-XC

Hero of the Light said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tjl said...

"What mistakes? Really, what mistakes"

Of course O should embrace, ecstatically, the full agenda of Nancy Pelosi. Give us card check, the fairness doctrine, income redistribution, 25% defense cuts, and the ObamaCorps in which the youth will be forcibly molded in the ways of Hope and Change!

Give us a leftist orgy and see what happens in 2010.

Meade said...

"You were a lefty senator"

Lead by example -- give us hope you will change.

hdhouse said...

This is a joke right?

Krugman ok with all of you? as he won the nobel prize for economics if memory serves me right,as in the election, he won, Mankiw didn't. Perhaps for a reason...no?

And just what sorry state of affairs are we in due to economic theory? I particularly appreciate the "you wree a lefty senator" comment as well as "the laws of arithmetic are ignored". choice.

"embrace some republican ideas"...what? their math? their ability to keep deficit spending out of the budget?

by all means let's elect mr. obama and saddle him with GOP thinking. what a concept.

hdhouse said...

ahhh and for you GOP faithful, I have read through Mankiw's blog...noting of course that he teaches econ 101 at HARVARD....that baston of conservative thought and he is publishing this article snippet in tne NYTIMES.

Talk about your ultra liberal outlets.

Palladian said...

"rugman ok with all of you? as he won the nobel prize for economics if memory serves me right,as in the election, he won, Mankiw didn't. Perhaps for a reason...no?"

Of course it was for a reason. Krugman, in addition to being a well-respected economist is/was also a virulent, fire-breathing, spittle-spraying Bush hater. This, as we know, gets panties moist in Stockholm and I suspect tipped the scales in Krugman's favor. Who wants to give the Nobel to some boring old economist when you can give it to a boring old economist who HATES TEH BU$H N SPEEKZ TRUF TO POW3R!!1

EDH said...

Obama's Response (a dramatization, by Oliver Stone)

FADE IN.

THE FOYER OF REZKO MANNER.

BEAMS OF SUNLIGHT DRAMATICALLY TRACE OBAMA'S LEAN SILOUETTE AS HE EMERGES THROUGH HEAVY POCKET DOORS THAT HAVE SEQUESTERED THE PRESIDENT-ELECT IN HIS WOOD PANELLED LIBRARY ALL MORNING.

HE APPROACHES A CLUSTER OF MICROPHONES ATOP A PODIUM...

..............OBAMA,

I would like to thank Professor Mankiw for his valuable advice. I respect his scholarship and his service to our country.

OBAMA RAISES HIS RIGHT HAND TO HIS FACE AND SCRATCHES THE CORNER OF HIS MOUTH WITH AN ELONGATED MIDDLE FINGER.

YET, AMONG THE ASSEMBLED PRESS AND SUPPORTERS, THE QUESTION REMAINED: "FOR WHOM IS THE FINGER RAISED?"

Roost on the Moon said...

2. Embrace some Republican ideas.

There may be good reasons for embracing any given Republican idea. Maybe it's actually a good idea and would help the country. Maybe as part of a compromise to get something more important passed.

But most definitely not: "Because it's a Republican idea."

#2 is really stupid. The "Clinton did it" point ignores what the congress looked like in 1994. Even worse, it ignores what the opinions of the people look like now.

Let's not forget that Obama is our president-elect largely because he is not a Republican. Current "Republican Ideas" tend to ignore #3 and pander just as much on trade (which is all #1 and #4 are about). Republican Ideas have made a mess of the country.

The one example he cites, a refundable tax credit, is more of a liberal idea recently adopted by the GOP for election season.

(A flat $5000 rebate combined with other measures, as Mankiw seems to suggest, is certainly a liberal idea. If it is the only thing offered, it's a republican idea disguised as a liberal one.)

Disguised because the people don't want Republican Ideas.

Donn said...

Mankiw:
You will almost surely have to renege on some of these promises.

Gee, now that would really be a surprise.

Maybe it's all about playing the game?

Fred4Pres said...

PJ O'Rourke Unleashes, Check It Out

John K. said...

How convenient. An economist advises the president-elect to listen to economists. Wasn't Alan Greenspan an economist?

As a moralist and a libertarian who believes in a heavy presumption for liberty and against coercion, I take this opportunity to advise Obama to listen to moral libertarians. And to reread the Declaration of Independence. And to take his foot off the government gas pedal, or at least to stop flooring it. And to drastically reduce taxes (starting with the citizens who can afford theirs least, and when we see how well that improves the mood of the country and reverses some of the inequalities caused by government, slashing taxes on the rich as well), and cut government meddling accordingly.

It just so happens that a number of economists (including Nobel prize-winners like Milton Friedman) think liberty also makes sense economically. But the real justification for liberty is not economic but moral.

Donn said...

PJ:
None of this is the fault of the left. After the events of the 20th century--national socialism, international socialism, inter-species socialism from Earth First--anyone who is still on the left is obviously insane and not responsible for his or her actions.

No comment necessary.

William said...

I think Obama should sprout gossamer wings and leave not a quarter but a cool c-note under the pillow of every child who has lost a tooth. This will spur consumer spending. The unintended consequence of children who refuse to brush for reasons of short term greed will not be felt until a later administration.

Cedarford said...

I hope Obama retains enough memory of the Bush economists like Mankiw to take them, and their supply-side theories like rebate checks to buy more China junk with a big amount of prudent skepticism.

America has a rotting infrastucture requiring lots of rebuilding - 1.1 trillion worth at present estimates, plus some 600 billion in proposed new Broadband, subways, "green" electric projects people would like.
Unlike tax rebates, where 80 cents on the dollar disappears to create overseas jobs with a 1-2 dollar "economic multiplier" within the US economy - direct spending on infrastructure, be it bridges, new submarines, new gen autos - creates good jobs here both directly and through a 8-11 fold economic multiplier.

Obama has also great cause to worry about the economists that are paid by the Corporatists to make a case that H1-B Visas to train, then economic subsidies to export "knowledge worker" jobs, many requiring advanced degrees in IT, engineering, science. A particularly bad idea.

The prescription drug subsidy was pushed with the idea that keeping drug prices higher in the US than anywhere else and the taxpayer footing the excess was a great idea because it would create great, high tech jobs here. Now we find Squibb and Pfizer have plots to outsource most advanced IT and R&D science, MD, & engineering jobs to Asia.

It is a new time. In recent years, Reaganomics, or voodoo economics to some - has been tested and has seemed to be failing badly in an interconnected world. Bush gave us 5 trillion in Fed Debt, a trillion dollar trade deficit fueling China's Rise from our accumulated and fast-dissapating wealth, added 20 trillion to our unfunded health care liability for Medicare, and cost us 3 million manufacturing jobs and 8 million jobs created from manufacturing spinoff.

The only way Bush was able to mask his Free Market!! job losses was to create new government jobs by growing the Fed Gov't 40%, and by a housing bubble that he and people like Mankiw should have known was unsustainable, or actually did and didn't care.

Look, if you are on a new direction..you probably do need to toss the resumes of Neocons seeking foreign policy jobs and supply-side Reagonomics economists without a 2nd thought.

TMink said...

Leopard, change those spots! I will be completely surprised and quite happy if our new President moves toward the center. It would actually cause me significant cognitive dissonance and force me into some fundamental rethinking of human nature.

I would love the chance to do so, but do not anticipate getting the opportunity enough to hold my breath.

Trey

skaus said...

Embrace some Republican ideas like Clinton!

That must be why the Republicans kept the debate confined to policy and didn't spend Clinton's second term trying to hound him from office for vindictive personal reasons.

Trumpit said...

Bush is still in office, so can we continue to rant about the evils he is committing as we speak? If Obama is mutt, Bush is a mongrel: a cross between a miserable old hag and a rich worthless futz-yutz-putz patrician patootie. And you clowns voted for him twice. That would be laughable if he hadn't bankrupted the U.S. and destroyed the world. And Herbert Hoover ManClaw, a former Bush advisor, has the unmitigated gall to tell Obama what to do: Act like a Rethuglican! That's both laughable and pathetic. ManClaw no longer allows comments on his blog. He couldn't take the heat; he's a loser as an economist and as a believer in free speech.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Mankiw used to have comments, but it looks like he's completely dumped them, including a couple I left about a year ago. Perhaps because many of those comments pointed out that Mankiw is an idiot.

walter neff said...

President Elect Obama won fair and square. He should govern as a Democrat and do what he feels is right. He should stay away from Republican ideas and personal and govern as the leftist idealouge he really is in his heart.

Alex said...

Wow. Mankiw gives good advice to Obama to help govern the country. Left wing hacks flood in and say "no way Jose - we value partisanship over country". I hope Obama listens to the left-wing hacks, because I value GOP victory in 2010 over what's good for the country too.

John Stodder said...

hdhouse, you might want to read the underlying Mankiw post for answers to all your questions.

1. The key word in this bit of advice is "your." "Your economists." Not Bush's, or McCain's. Krugman was not one of Obama's economists. Obama's economists, however, include the one who tried to reassure Canada that Obama was lying when he told Ohio voters during the primary that he would unilaterally pull out of NAFTA if Mexico and Canada wouldn't renegotiate it. Later, in a Fortune interview, Obama confirmed that his economist was correct -- he didn't mean what he told Ohioans. He blamed it on the bossa nova, as I recall.

2. In the post, Mankiw is specific on which Republican idea he means -- McCain's health care proposal, which is apparently based on something one of Obama's economists wrote. McCain's health care proposal got incredibly twisted and distorted throughout the campaign -- by McCain! But it is a much better idea.

3. Re: budget constraints. What I fear is that most Democrats will take the same position as you do, which is: "Bush boosted spending and all I got was a T-Shirt." The best politics around Bush's deficits is to reduce them, not increase them. Although not until the recession is over does this become a priority.

4. Recognize your past mistakes -- specifically refers to his protectionist votes. They, like card check, are a pure payback to wealthy labor bureaucrats peddling outmoded thinking that provides nothing to the workers they pretend to represent. Protectionism costs Americans jobs. It will also worsen the global recession. It's stupid and the argument against it is pure demagoguery without a fact in its favor. So, yeah, as an Obama voter, I hope the one who tried to reassure business via Fortune that he didn't mean what he said in Ohio about trade is the one I end up with.

blake said...

If John Stodder wants to run for the Senate (Boxer and Feinstein have to step down soon, don't they?), I'm happy to contribute to his campaign.

hdhouse said...

Alex said...
"I hope Obama listens to the left-wing hacks, because I value GOP victory in 2010 over what's good for the country too."

yeah well alex it is 2008. You have the generational numbnuts in office for a couple more months and his and his advisor's understanding of the "economy" is trash and crap rolled into one.

A GOP victory in 2010 is what? partisanship? gotta wait until my party gets back in the act? Are you lame? You just argued against partisanship and now you want it back.

God the GOP is a miserable excuse for leadership.

John Stodder said...

Thanks, Blake, but I don't think the Democrats are ready to do all the rethinking I propose. Too much of a buzz kill. They did win after all, and without very much help from me.

My brother Seth, on the other hand, would be a great candidate.

John Stodder said...

Also, to run for Senate in California, apparently you have to have a very wealthy husband. Also helpful if you want to be speaker of the house.

blake said...

Also, to run for Senate in California, apparently you have to have a very wealthy husband. Also helpful if you want to be speaker of the house.

We could probably fix you up with someone.

You know, for the greater good.

dick said...

hdhouse,

you might also remember that Krugman was one of the main advisors to Enron. You do remember Enron from the Clinton days? They did such good accounting and economics.

hdhouse said...

dick said...
"hdhouse, you might also remember that Krugman was one of the main advisors to Enron..."

Dick, dick dick....next time you google read all the articles before trying to bring such lame-ass shit to the board. A 4 day speaking engagement along with any number of other economists hardly constitutes "main advisors".

I would have expected more of you, but then again, maybe not.

knowitall said...

Did the elitist illuminati like Pelosi and Reed become the economic team, because those are the only people he's going to listen to.

Moon Rattled said...

2. "Embrace some Republican ideas." That's what Bill Clinton did.

Unfuckingreal. Obama's not even the President yet and not once did a single f'ing Republican ever ask the Bush administration why it wasn't embracing conservative ideas.

Republican ideas have been shit for eight years.

But them this is just another lame duck entry by the female Lieberman of the intertubes.