Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 4, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

QUOTE OF THE DAY....From Hillary Clinton, after being asked if there's a single economist who thinks a gas tax holiday makes sense:

"Well, I'll tell you what, I'm not going to put my lot in with economists."

Smart woman. Those economists are a shifty lot. (Via email from the Stephanopoulos show.)

Kevin Drum 12:58 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (106)

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Comments

Way to go Hill! Trust that gut, it just has to be smarter than those pointy-headed economists.

Posted by: skewter on May 4, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

From a few days ago, John Stewart's reaction to Bush's call to make the tax cuts permanent -- "Yeah, let's take the policies that got us in this mess, and make them irrevocable!"

Posted by: John McCain: More of the Same on May 4, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

So that would be a 'no', then. I hope she also doesn't let those physicists near the space program, what with their laws of gravity and such that are slowing down our rockets.

Posted by: Counterfactual on May 4, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

That's all fine and dandy, but what's her position on irrigating the crops with Brawndo?

Posted by: Low Information Voter on May 4, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

She's completely lost her grip. Absolutely anything to not have to back off an erroneous position. Just like...well, we all know who.

This is why I said in the thread below that I try to avoid seeing and hearing her these days. Even though she finished losing me months ago with the endorsing-McCain's-qualifications-over-Obama's business, I admired and defended her and her husband for many, many years, and it's really painful to see her complete self-degradation now.

Posted by: shortstop on May 4, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's newfound admiration for economists is noted. Will he now embrace free trade with Colombia? Doubtful.

Posted by: Everett on May 4, 2008 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary is smart. The people will conserve with or without the tax if they want to. Lets tax the oil companies, we hate them and they should pay on the windfall profit. The oil companies will squeeze the customers like lemons and our infrastructure is not taken care of anyway. The economy has been messed up as is and a little more will not make a dent.

Tax the big cars, the little guy driving a slightly used car has to get gas to get to work too.

Hillary go, go, take the ball and run with it.

Posted by: renate on May 4, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

That's it. Hillary's now officially George Wallace.

Posted by: Jim D on May 4, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Lets tax the oil companies, we hate them and they should pay on the windfall profit.

Fine; go pass that. Good luck with that. And once you have passed that, then you can come back and talk to us about this gas tax thing. Not before.


Posted by: Walker on May 4, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

That's right Everett, we should only listen to economists when they agree with liberal positions. Just like army generals and the CIA.

Posted by: Brad on May 4, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary's right. It's those economists what got us into this trouble we're in right now with their figgerin' an numberin'.

Posted by: jonas on May 4, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

George W. Bush didn't help the reputations of Yale and Harvard. Hillary is taking it to dear old Wellesley.

Posted by: HL Mungo on May 4, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

She is positioning herself to be the champion of the Low Information Voters, versus Obama who has scored big with the high information voters. Part of the way to appeal to the LIVs, is to share in the countries all to strong anti-intellectualism. Of course if she did get the job, we would hope it is all just rhetoric:

Would she listen to the objections of the generals? We saw how well that worked in Iraq.

Would she listen to the economists on taxes? Or can we all simply be given magic ponies?

Most of it is simple mathematics. Do the numbers add up? But the road to popularity is via confession of inability to do numbers.

Posted by: bigTom on May 4, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Walker,

your 18 cents tax on one gallon is like spitting in the wind.

If you want taxes from the oil companies you have to start some where. You don't get any if you don't even start to talk about it.

But maybe you think the poor oil companies should not be bothered, we will pay for the war to protect their interests.

Posted by: renate on May 4, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Two YouTube videos that are apropos to this sort of brain-dead politicking:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r256V7VaxFg&feature=user

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqHtM4w5oeg

Posted by: Jim D on May 4, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe Hillary won't let go of this stupid idea. She has such terrible advisors! I'm so disappointed in her! I try to keep an open mind about her and Obama but it's really getting harder.

Posted by: P. Hussein Smith on May 4, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Just a reminder,
some years ago when gasoline was cheap the Democrats wanted to raise federal taxes 5 cents a gallon and Kerry voted for the 5 cent increase and was damned for doing it when he ran for president 2004.

If 18 cents is good for the economy and prevents the oil people from raising the price then maybe increasing the tax by 10 cents would be good, it would cut the profit of the oil companies and the price of gasoline would stay the same?

Posted by: renate on May 4, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

dumping the gas tax is a great idea.

who needs to fix roads and bridges or make them more efficient?

who needs all those construction jobs that comes with fixing those roads and bridges? hey, the construction industry is thriving these days anyway!

who needs mass transit? i look at people at bus stops and on the buses themselves and i only see the rich!

there's no guarantee that if the tax is cut that the savings will be passed on to consumers, meaning that's more money in the pockets of our friends, the oil companies!

john mccain, with his vast knowledge of the economy, likes the idea! need i say more?

cutting the gas tax is a great idea!

Posted by: mudwall jackson on May 4, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

As others have noted, the Colombia free trade pact had spit to do with free trade. It was free-trade scented.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on May 4, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Economists have brought us: outsourcing, offshoring, rational man, quartic utility functions, efficient markets, free trade, all the while remaining tenured.

I'm not sure their record is spotless.

Posted by: jerry on May 4, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Economists have brought us: outsourcing, offshoring, rational man, quartic utility functions, efficient markets, free trade, all the while remaining tenured. I'm not sure their record is spotless.

Posted by: jerry on May 4, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Big Tom,

I am a Low Information Voter. I still don't know how and what Obama is going to change in Washington.

Posted by: renate on May 4, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, it used to be hyperbole to compare Hillary to Dubya.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on May 4, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

The emphasis of appealing to the biased, ignorant electorate, which is easily mollified with a candidate's public derision of intellectuals, is partly because of the two party system. Clinton knows intellectuals have no other choice but to vote for a Democratic candidate in the election, even if she is the candidate, so she can insult them as a strategy to win votes of people who are not supporters of a greater social democracy.

It should not be a surprise that economists are subject to mass criticism though. Public servant economists rarely serve the interests of the masses, but are chosen for their ability to do what is best for the politically dominant sector of capital.

Posted by: Brojo on May 4, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

The low information voter wants to know why gas pump prices rise immediately and take forever to go down. Economists are the ones that tell us this is what happens in an efficient, rational market.

Elitist scaremongers tell us that 3 months without tax will cause our bridges to fail. Our infrastructure is both worse off and better off than that.

Posted by: jerry on May 4, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Govern from the gut like GWB!!! We haven't had enough of that yet...

I wonder if Paul Krugman will feel rejected? Probably not, I think he is trying to line himself up a economic adviser position in the WH...

I think Obama should send him an olive branch...he seems to be starting to see the writing on the wall...

Posted by: justmy2 on May 4, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Economists, by and large, are a bunch of Ivory Tower chaps who love to justify policies that cost the little guy and profit the capitalist class. It's hard not to find an economist who doesn't advocate 'free' trade and those policies of outsourcing, off shoring, and manufacturing in
cheap labor third world countries have all worked to decimate the wages of the working and middle-class Americans while greatly adding to the wealth of the investment and capitalist classes.

Clinton is appealing to people who would like to see government working for them and not the oil companies, and is therefore offering short-term as well as long term policies. Economists and Obama are showing their indifference to those who are hurt the most in the Bush/Greenspan/Bernanke economy.

....painful to see her complete self-degradation now....shortstop at 1:07 PM
It's a good thing that voters don't agree. Frankly, Obama lost me with his praise for Republican policy, his triangulation from the right, his mocking John Edwards, his inadequate heath care proposals and his misstatements about them, his outright lies about Clinton's various positions, his lack of legislative accomplishment and inexperience, his appeal to the Lee Atwater wing of the Democratic Party, and his lack of concern for working Americans. It's too bad that, according to polls, so many Americans believe in John McCain, but it's up to the nominee and the Party in the general election to educate them.

As of now Clinton does much better against McCain.

...Hillary Rodham Clinton has a better chance than Barack Obama of beating Republican John McCain, according to a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll ....Clinton...has gained ground this month in a hypothetical head-to-head match up with the GOP nominee-in-waiting; she now leads McCain, 50 percent to 41 percent, while Obama remains virtually tied with McCain, 46 percent to 44 percent.

As for Obama, he was for suspending gas taxes before he was against it.

...Obama voted three times for a tax holiday.
The version that ended up becoming law required a six-month suspension of the state's share of the sales tax on gasoline, a 5 percent tax paid directly by consumers rather than gas stations. It also required gas stations to post signs on their pumps saying that the Illinois General Assembly had lowered taxes and the price should reflect that cut....

Posted by: Mike on May 4, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

What do economists know about winning elections?

Posted by: on May 4, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

What do economists know about winning elections?

Posted by: Rick Taylor on May 4, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

This woman gets more ridiculous with each passing day.

Look, the Democratic presidential nominating process is over - Period. It was over on Super Tuesday. There is no mathematical possibility of her winning. People need to open their fucking eyes.

Anyone who believes otherwise has bought into the FoxNews/Hillary for President/James Carville spin. Other than a Napoleonic-sized ego, the only reasonable explanation for Hillary to continue is that she is trying to raise enough funds so that she can drop out of the race without a lot of debt. She needs to save the family finances for Bill's next bimbo eruption!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 4, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's newfound admiration for economists is noted. Will he now embrace free trade with Colombia? Doubtful.

Way to change the subject, Everett! Do anything but actually defend Hillary's indefensible statement.

Yeah, let's this is about Kevin, who is not on the ballot anywhere, as far as I know.

Posted by: chuck on May 4, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

People here sure seem shocked about a politician acting political. Oh, I forgot. Most people here are Barry supporters, and Barry is WAAAAAY above politics. For the record, if the choice is between the judgement of an American randomly selected from the telephone directory or most economists, I'll take the former every time. I have rarely met a bigger group of impractical misfits than economists.

Posted by: Pat on May 4, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Armed with godly testicular fortitude and hoisted by her own petard, Hillary Clinton stubbornly continues onward.

Posted by: EvilPoet on May 4, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Economists have brought us: outsourcing, offshoring, rational man, quartic utility functions, efficient markets, free trade, all the while remaining tenured. I'm not sure their record is spotless.

False equivalency. Not all economists agreed on any of these policies. However, all economists of any note have been unanimous in their opposition to the "gas tax holiday."

Also - as many posters have noted - this sounds like the continuation of what we've grown sadly accustomed to under Bush - damn the experts, I'm going to do what I want!

Whatever happened to the JFK standard of "the best and the brightest"?

Posted by: chuck on May 4, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Look at whom Hillary's husband's chief economist (a guy named Robert Reich - you might have heard of him - credited with engineering the largest expansion of the US economy in history):

Hint: it's not Hillary.

Posted by: chuck on May 4, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

As the LAT noted this morning, the federal tax on gas was 18 cents when gas cost $1. It's still 18 cents.

Yes, let's cut the price of gas by less than 5% for 3 months (assuming the oil companies don't just soak up the difference) - that will do all kinds of good!

Posted by: craigie on May 4, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Give me a break.

Hillary knows her gas tax idea is economically retarded. But she's doing some pandering in order to win.

As long as no politician actually tries to institute such a hare-brained scheme, I'll overlook the dopey ideas that get trotted out in the heat of battle.

Like Obama reassuring the Canadians that all his crazy talk aside, there'll be no anti-NAFTA policies if he's elected.

Posted by: Auto on May 4, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

What do them fancy-pants eee-conomists know about cookin' squirrels and chawin' terbacky? I sez they can all go to h-e-double hockey sticks!

Posted by: Hillary Clinton, J.D., Yale, 1973 on May 4, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

What a shameful prostitute Hillary has become. Apparently there is NO principle left that cannot be compromized to get the votes of some ignorant yahoo who wants to save $3 on their next fill-up.

What a whore.

Posted by: on May 4, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Elitist bastards. Especially those economists that went to places like Harvard and Yale. The sort of places a shot-drinking, duck-hunting, gas-pumping woman with testicular fortitude would never be caught dead in.

Posted by: CMcC on May 4, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hint: it's not Hillary.
Right,it's John McCain. Can't have the Republican candidate grab an issue that might resonate with some voters.
Hint:it wasn't Robert Reich.It was Doogie two names.

Confession,I have a BA in economics but I swar to god,I never used it. Really.

Posted by: TJM on May 4, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think sneers about "low-information voters" is going to win you many friends in Indiana or North Carolina.

I expect lots of those folks know that it's a pipe dream, really. It's just a way for a politician to say to them, "I get it. I know what's bugging you."

If I thought there was even the remotest chance that it would turn into policy, I might be more alarmed, because it's stupid policy. But I don't, so I'm not.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on May 4, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Economyths.

Posted by: Jet on May 4, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

"...In light of fierce criticism from economic experts, Clinton said, "We've been, for the last seven years, seeing a tremendous amount of government power and elite opinion basically behind policies that haven't worked well for the middle class and hard-working Americans. ... I know if we get it right, if we actually did it right, if we had a president who used all the tools of the presidency, we would design it in such a way that it would be implemented effectively."

The Democratic candidate also responded to claims that her proposal is not a "truthful response" to the soaring prices at the pump.

"This gas tax issue to me is very real, because I am meeting people across Indiana and North Carolina who drive for a living, who commute long distances, who would save money if the oil companies paid this $8 billion this summer, instead of it coming out of the pockets of consumers," Clinton said. "Now, look, I have long-term plans too. I mean, it's a misnomer to say this is all that I'm doing. It's not. I have a comprehensive long-term energy plan that would go right at dependence on foreign oil."

Clinton also differentiated her plan from that of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the likely Republican presidential nominee, who has also called for summer gas tax holiday.

"My proposal is very different from Sen. McCain," she said. "Sen. McCain has said take off the gas tax, don't pay for it, throw us further into deficit and debt. That is not what I've proposed. What I've proposed is that the oil companies pay the gas tax instead of consumers and drivers this summer."..."

Posted by: wobbly on May 4, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Considering that one of the greatest banes to conserving energy in this country is the link between the gasoline tax and building even more highways with that money, this would be a great way to unlink the two.
If money is needed to build or repair highways that are actually needed, then pay for them out of general funds. Same thing for funds for Amtrak or public transportation.
Oh, you mean politicians would have to take positions on those subjects? Oh, well...

Posted by: Doug on May 4, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Let us not assassinate the truth further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency madam, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

As for you Professor Krugman have you no decency or self respect either. Are you a fool? If not, dump the witch.

Posted by: wren on May 4, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

While I'm sure that economists are right on the narrow issue that the gas tax holiday is not likely to have its intended effects, it's hardly as if they don't deserve some very real anger directed their way over their recommendations over the years. Those prescriptions have done often a great deal of harm to the average citizen with relatively little upside.

What, after all, has done, or is going to do, the larger public more damage: a gas tax holiday, or the full consequences of essentially unrestricted globalization, as recommended by the vast majority of economists?

And what has done the populace more harm than the simply incredible growing gap between the rich and everyone else -- all in consequence of economic policies recommended by mainstream economists, well designed to increase GDP, but oblivious to any need to see that everyone might profit?

Economists deserve more than a little disdain until they fix these basic problems in their ability to make good, instead of bad, recommendations.

That day when they can demonstrate that they really know what the true consequences of their recommendations might be on matters of the most basic importance in their own domain - such as the consequences of globalization, and the income inequality gap -- then perhaps we should follow their suggestions strictly, and accord them great respect.

In the meantime, given the damage they have already done, I don't see how they can fairly complain if both politicians and the people choose to keep them in the doghouse.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 4, 2008 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0

You sir are a liar or a fool. Perhaps both. I am sure you will agree that if doctors can't cure your disease perhaps you should believe whatever Kevin Trudeau is hawking this week.

Pathetic.

Wren

Posted by: wren on May 4, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

auto: "Like Obama reassuring the Canadians that all his crazy talk aside, there'll be no anti-NAFTA policies if he's elected..."

That story was probably leaked on purpose by the Conservative government here, breaking diplomatic protocol. In fact, it was *Hillary's* team that sent the "reassuring" memo.

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on May 4, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

wren,

If the doctors tell me and everyone else to be bleeded by leeches whenever we get a fever, and I can see that it does absolutely no good, or perhaps even does people harm, then, excuse me, I'm not going to take their recommendations as imperatives that must in all cases be observed.

As far as I'm concerned, economics is just a black box. Economists make recommendations and predicted consequences, and I don't pretend to know, or even want to know, how they make those recommendations and predictions -- all of which I regard as something going on inside that black box. I simply ask, whether they have proved out, or have instead been disconfirmed.

And the problem for mainstream economics is that, on some of the most basic matters in their own domain, they have been shown to be wrong -- the consequences of globalization being one, and the growing inequality in income being another.

In the end, who do you believe, the experts, or your own eyes?

For me, my own eyes always seems to win.

Not, I guess, for you.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 4, 2008 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin...

If you had any regrets in terms of throwing your support to Barack Obama in the primaries, it looks like your conscience can rest a bit easier.

This is sad. Which is not to say I wouldn't still vote for Hillary. I certainly will if she wins it.

But I really do expect better from the Dem side of the aisle. This kind of crap can almost reduce one to tears. Christ... we are supposed to be a country where the best ideas win and where intellect matters...

Good Lord.

Posted by: koreyel on May 4, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't had time to read upthread, so I might be repeating someone:

Clinton wants the oil companies to pay the 18 cent / gallon gas tax INSTEAD of paying a windfall profits tax.

Obama leaves that option open.

Posted by: slanted tom on May 4, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum is correct that Hillary Clinton's support of the gas tax is supported by no economist.

But no economist supports the minimum wage because it is price regulation which causes inflation and unemployment and also violates the basic tenets of the free market. Yet Kevin Drum supports the minimum wage.

Kevin Drum should not be so hypocriticial as to support some economically indefensible policies when it suits him while rejecting others when they don't.

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 4, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

You know what, she's probably doing it because her campaign has determined that it's a good stunt to get people interested in her. If we had one candidate, and we knew it was going to help get him/her elected, wouldn't we want the Dems in congress to fall in line to support the candidate's leadership on it so it would look like it was sort of his/her idea, and the candidate could take a lot of the credit?

As far as stunts go, it's a pretty harmless one. Nothing to see here, folks, move along.

Here's a new Swan diary

Here are all my diaries

Posted by: Swan on May 4, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Swan, that's just whorific.

Posted by: keith g on May 4, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Swan, that's just whorific.

Posted by: keith g on May 4, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

If Clinton was suggesting a bunch of economic plans that were really stupid and would hurt many people and help few people, and she suggested the gas-tax holiday as one of a bunch of cockamamie measures that were supposed to work like a magic band-aid to pull all the loose ends together, then this would be a different story entirely.

Right now it's "Clinton Blows Nose." Oh gosh!

Posted by: Swan on May 4, 2008 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Chuck: Way to change the subject, Everett! Do anything but actually defend Hillary's indefensible statement. Yeah, let's this (sic) is about Kevin, who is not on the ballot anywhere, as far as I know.

From your comment, I infer you thought I was defending the gas tax suspension. I find that mildly amusing!

Obama is right on the gas tax suspension, and Clinton and McCain are both very wrong. As a rule, the advice of economists should be followed. But both Obama and Clinton ignore economists freely when it suits their interests, such as Colombia Free Trade.

In this case, McCain's position is more of an exception to the rule.

Posted by: Everett on May 4, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Give me a chance, please. Mentioning the gas tax allows us to start on some inroads against the oil companies--it is a start to impose windfall profits and some investigative processes. We do need to make a statement, and make a difference. Lighten up.

Posted by: Hill on May 4, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

George Stepanopolous interrupted Senator Clinton and displayed his complete disdain for her throughout the interview/debate. I liked how she finally stood, faced the audience and kind of dissed him in body language. He has axes to grind, clearly. He absolutely interfered with her explanations on Iran by questioning her poll numbers on trust issues, and he is obviously biased.

Posted by: Hill supporter on May 4, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. Now we can read Swan making stupid comments on his own stupid posts.

It's a good thing! Collect them all in one place where we can avoid them altogether.

Posted by: stupid white bird on May 4, 2008 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary is right to throw all economists under the bus.

I mean, come on...

They've only had their own Noble Prize since 1969.

That's not a science...
That's voodoo mathematics.

One more thing:

Anybody known what Hillary thinks about climate scientists?

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAo on May 4, 2008 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

It's not even a nobel prize.... And the economists can't even agree on a name for their prize.

1969–1970 Prize in Economic Science dedicated to the memory of Alfred Nobel[38][39]
1971 Prize in Economic Science[40]
1972 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel[41]
1973–1975 Prize in Economic Science in Memory of Alfred Nobel[42][43]
1976–1977, 1983 Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel[44][45][46]
1978–1981, 1984–1990 Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences[47][48][49][50]
1982 Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science[51]
1991 Sveriges Riksbank (Bank of Sweden) Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel[52]
1992–2005 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel[53][54]
2006–present The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel[55][56]

1969: Jan Tinbergen[57] Alfred Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics
1970: Paul A. Samuelson[58] Alfred Nobel Memorial Awards in Economics
1971: Simon Kuznets,[59]
1994: John C. Harsanyi[60] Nobel Memorial Prize
1974: Friedrich August von Hayek[61] Nobel Memorial Prize for economic science
1975: Tjalling C. Koopmans[62] award for economics
1976: Milton Friedman,[63]
1981: James Tobin[64],
2006: Edmund S. Phelps[65] Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel
1979: Theodore W. Schultz,[66]
1995: Robert E. Lucas Jr.,[67] Nobel Prize in Economics
1988: Maurice Allais[68] Prix Nobel d'Economie (French for Nobel Prize in Economics)
1981: Lawrence R. Klein[69] Prize in Economic Science

Perhaps it should just be called the Big Penis Prize in the "Science" that doesn't find a lack of controls to be a problem.

Regarding climate scientists, I am sure that Clinton would throw them into the Gulag while she gets her global warming on. Because you know she is a hater who would turn the keys of the country over to the oil executives. Oh wait a moment, it's Obama that voted for the energy bill and Clinton who voted against it. And Obama who takes money from oil executives and lobbyists' spouses.

7/20/93, NEVER FORGET!!!!!

Posted by: jerry on May 4, 2008 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Time for us all to lay off the female contender and instead focus that wrath on McSame McCain's foibles and fumbles.

Posted by: Misogyny? on May 4, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks jerry...

Biggest bunch of fucking lib losers I've ever seen.


Posted by: Hillbilly Repug on May 4, 2008 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Oops...

I see I pissed that up.
Jerry, you didn't post a list of the winners you posted a list of something else! Oh shit. Well never you fucking mind!
I am sure the winners are Lib losers too.

Right Jerry?
Whereas me and Jerry are smart guys...
Right Jerry?

[Insert tail wagging and drooling here]

Posted by: Hillbilly Repug on May 4, 2008 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama objects to both suggestions. He dreams of inviting Ahmadinejad to tea at the White House- with Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan as special guests. They will all sit down and reason together. "

Better to try some diplomacy if you care at all about America, its troops, strategic interests, the colossal waste and harm to US power and prestige.

Fuck you. It is YOU… who still has the fucking gall to continue to play the unpatriotic, un-American smear against all who oppose your ideological, dishonest dreams.

Posted by: Fred M on May 4, 2008 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think its stupid too. But its politics. What the hell's the mystery? And why do people here sound so personally shocked and offended? Odd and amusing.

What is especially striking to me, though, and pretty troubling too, is the scorn dripping from so many comments here about those Americans who are so hard pressed economically they might jump at something like a gas tax holiday as SOMETHING that might help them eke it out. Too many posters here are mocking those people as hicks and uneducated rubes. Or my favorite elitest Washington Monthy term "low information voter." Never heard that one before I started posting here. If anyone ever asks you where some of this "Obama Elitist" talk comes from, tell them to look at a thread like this. Some of the comments here are a pretty good clue.

Posted by: Pat on May 4, 2008 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I'll tell you what, I'm not going to put my lot in with economists...

...because I know if we get it right, if we actually did it right, if we had a president who used all the tools of the presidency, we would design it in such a way that it would be implemented effectively.

Not to belabor the obvious, but we don't have such a president, and the current one will be in office until Jan-09. As will the currently sitting Congress, many of whom must be overjoyed to hear that Clinton wants to get them "on the record".

Posted by: has407 on May 4, 2008 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

I see that it's rip on economists day here in the comments. As an economist, much of the criticism appears based on ignorance.

"But no economist supports the minimum wage because it is price regulation which causes inflation and unemployment and also violates the basic tenets of the free market. Yet Kevin Drum supports the minimum wage." Many economists, myself included, support a minimum wage. There's a trade-off between improving the lot of low-wage workers and economic efficiency. The magnitude of the gain to low-income workers relative to the potential jobs lost is an empirical question, with the majority of the research indicating that the job loss is relatively small.

Most economists do advocate free trade because it results in greater overall efficiency and lower prices for the goods we all consume. However, most economists have also pointed out both the benefits and the cost of free trade. The catch is that the costs tend to be borne by a few while the benefits are diffused.

And while most economists make the point that markets tend towards efficiency, most also recognize that there are important exceptions and those exceptions may provide strong justification for things like government regulation.

On the gas tax, we've had 7 years of the Bush administration trying to make their own reality. Unfortunately, it's not going to work any better when or if a Democrat tries the same stunt.

In the short term, the supply of gas is basically fixed - or the supply curve is vertical. Thus, any tax cut will not have any impact on the price. It's economics 101. Either Clinton has zero understanding of economics or she is shamelessly pandering. Either way, it doesn't fill me with confidence about her Presidential timbre

Posted by: Rich on May 4, 2008 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

“I think its stupid too. But its politics. What the hell's the mystery? And why do people here sound so personally shocked and offended? Odd and amusing.
What is especially striking to me, though, and pretty troubling too, is the scorn dripping from so many comments here about those Americans who are so hard pressed economically…”


No, the scorn is against how the Clinton’s have joined the ranks of Rove, George Wallace and Mussolini in trying to exploit peoples fears and prejudices .


Oh, the slippery slope once one plunges into anti-rationalism, and exploits fear, envy, and hate.

Hillary’s Talking Points for Tomorrow:

“And there are many elites and intellectuals that refuse to accept Jesus Christ as their lord and savior, and many others do not even believe in God at all.

And these elite intellectuals are teaching our children with this anti-God, anti-American beliefs and are putting their souls at risk of eternal damnation in Hell with Satin. They are therefore Satin’s agents on earth. Do not trust them! If you look, you may see 666 on their skin.

Elites are also putting your children’s lives at risk. They coddle Islamo- Fascists dark skinned guys that are secretly Muslims that want to rape your white daughters at 3.00 AM while they sleep in bed.

They want to coddle Iran. Well I say Nuke those MOTHER FUCKERS. It will create more jobs and lower the price of gas. They are not human like us… they deserve and must be annihilated”

Hill and Bill will be added to the list of George Wallace, Huey Long and George Bush that base their appeal on division, fear and innate prejudice. Franco, Mussolini Hillary-Bill Clinton.

Posted by: Bob on May 4, 2008 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Bob -- Got a credible link for Hillary's Talking Points for Tomorrow?

Posted by: has407 on May 4, 2008 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

It is no worse than sending all the tax rebates to the American people. Is the total less than the 18 cent gasoline tax? If that is good for the economy why is the other not good? Is it because it is Hillary and she wants the oil companies to pay some taxes?

Posted by: renate on May 4, 2008 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Mussolini? Easy, there, Bobby. Maybe just take a deep breath and back away from the keyboard.

Posted by: Pat on May 4, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

[given your history of fact-free trolling here, wiki- quoting stridency like this as a response to serious analysis is likely to get you banned permanently - mod.]

Posted by: ex-liberal on May 4, 2008 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

What Rich said (I'm a card-carrying economist myself). I'll just extend his point about free trade.

Yes, most economists agree that free trade can enhance welfare IN PRINCIPLE (sorry for the caps, ignorant economist here who hasn't learned html tags). And the vast majority of those recognize, as Rich suggests, that the gains are spread broadly while the pain falls more heavily on smaller numbers of people.

This leads some economists to praise politicians' courage in pushing trade deals, because once you frame the issue this way, a politician promoting a trade deal is thereby promoting the general well-being without being captive to a vocal minority. (Some in this camp will say that such brave politicians should make some sort of provision for those who are hurt by trade deals, but others are happy to see the deal go through, so long as the aggregate gain is larger than the aggregate cost--to the extent we can measure those things.)

But there are also many economists (maybe not a majority, but a pretty large number nonetheless) who argue that some trade pacts have spit to do with free trade, as a commenter so eloquently put it up-thread.

In general, those issues where you find a diversity of opinion among economists are questions where pure theory can lead you to two or more different conclusions and the empirical evidence is unclear. In that kind of situation, ideological biases tend to play a larger role and to an extent we choose which evidence to believe based on our presuppositions. (Yes, economists are human, all jokes to the contrary notwithstanding.)

Following up on this generality, when people say "economists" get such-and-such wrong, they've usually only been hearing one particular strain of economists and don't actually know the details of the discussion happening within the field.

This gas-tax thing stands in stark contrast. If you can't find a single economist who thinks it's a good idea on economic grounds, it's probably not a good idea on economic grounds.

And for people saying, "Yeah, it's just politics, it's a signal to the voters that she gets it"--I much prefer Obama's signal to the voters that he thinks we're smart. I won't say he never tells people what he thinks they want to hear, but on this issue he's saying, "I get the problem, but I respect you too much to propose something that will do you absolutely no good." If we ever want to have sane politics in this country, how can you not get behind that? How can you defend doing anything other than encouraging him to do it more often?

Oh, and for folks ragging on economists, how would you like it if your subjects were real people who had minds and feelings and stuff, and you were trying to reduce them to cardboard abstractions in order to simplify your analysis of how the whole damn world works? Not much fun, huh? You'd look pretty stupid too. (Snark off.) (Damn lack of html skills.)

Posted by: Karl on May 4, 2008 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Most economists do advocate free trade because it results in greater overall efficiency and lower prices for the goods we all consume. However, most economists have also pointed out both the benefits and the cost of free trade. The catch is that the costs tend to be borne by a few while the benefits are diffused.

And how precisely, exactly, did economists calculate how many would suffer from those "costs", and how large might be the "benefits" that are diffused?

If you can't get the calculation right to a point of precision that you can predict that free trade in a given instance is, on balance, going to produce a better economic outcome for most people, then of what earthly use is your recommendation in that instance that free trade should simply be permitted, rather than severely constrained?

In short, the sort of generalized caveat you offer up is cheap and worthless as it stands, and seems to do a better job covering the asses of economists than it does to protect the American public from harm incurred in following your recommendations.

Look, one of the most disturbing things about economists in my view is that they simply take no responsibility for their own errors, even when -- in fact, especially when -- they get their recommendations wrong on a systematic basis.

How many economists gave the American public a clear picture in advance of how we might as a people suffer through the effects of globalization? How many predicted or understood how the deep problem with the increasing gap in income would afflict us?

If you can't get these things right -- among the most basic things that might affect the larger economic lives of most people -- why, again, should we pay attention to you when you make grand proclamations about what sort of trade agreements we should embrace, or how we should allow market forces to grow the economy?

Again, I'm not interested in cheap caveats. I'm interested only in predictions that get things right in terms of basic recommendations for what makes most people better off and what doesn't. Economists have done, it seems to me, a pretty wretched job on that score.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 4, 2008 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

And ex-liberal gets some sort of award for reading non-comprehension.

Rich specifically acknowledged the theory (which is perhaps as far as ex-liberal's training in economics goes). He then goes on to explain the countervailing theory on why it's a potentially good thing. He wraps it up with a summary of the empirical research which suggests that the good effect outweighs the bad. (Presumably there's some limit to that--I don't think we'd like the effects if we imposed a minimum wage of $50/hr. But I'm also presuming that Rich is talking about the real world, where we won't see anything over $10 in current terms anyway.)

Ex-liberal seems to be characteristic of far too many people, who had a few economics courses and remembers only the parts that can be interpreted to mean the government shouldn't do anything. Either blinkered students, or poorly taught courses. A blot on the field of economics in either case.

Posted by: Karl on May 4, 2008 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Euthanize her!

Posted by: hollywood on May 4, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal and other conservatives, despite their rhetoric, believe in a minimum wage - ZERO!

They think slavery is just fine. They don't seem to have a problem with extracting labor from other human beings without paying anything for it. Minimum wage laws serve the same function as anti-slavery laws - to compel greedy capitalists to pay a reasonable price to people who have no power to compel them to do so.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 4, 2008 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

First they came for the low information assembly line union worker, and I didn't speak up because I had a tenure in economy, and free trade would replace those jobs with better jobs that leverage knowledge.

Then they came for the high information knowledge jobs, and I didn't speak up because I have a tenure in economy, and free trade benefits everyone, though just a few bear its costs.

Then they came for the Wal*MART jobs because our economy had plunged into the toilet, and I didn't speak up because I have a tenure in economy, and well, as soon as we gain the white house again, everything will be okay.

And then they came for the gasoline tax, and I spoke up! Because removing the taxes that are used on a day to day basis to keep gravity away will caused bridges around the globe to fall. And because removing the tax for 90 days will cause the Federal Deficit to balloon way high and surely bankrupt the country. And because all those jobless losers in the prior cases really don't need that $50, not when my candidate is doing the theoretically right thing and standing up to pressure. And since I have tenure and can afford a Prius, I'll also add we should increase these taxes, not lower them, and that the only thing to ever to is the *proper, most correct, cure*. And I do have tenure and spend more on lattes in two weeks than the job losers will save in 90 days from the gas tax.

Posted by: Tenured Economist on May 4, 2008 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

That's it. Hillary's now officially George Wallace.

Posted by: Jim D on May 4, 2008 at 1:19 PM

Well, she used to be Lurleen...

Posted by: Vincent on May 4, 2008 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0: Again, I'm not interested in cheap caveats. I'm interested only in predictions that get things right in terms of basic recommendations for what makes most people better off and what doesn't.

Well, defining "most people" is the rub isn't it? Is that a global, regional or national perspective? Methinks you look to economics to answer questions that cannot be answered by any science, which are extremely difficult to quantify, and which more properly belong in the fuzzy realm of politics.

While the inability of economics to quantify and codify all of the factors is certainly worthy of criticism, the major failure is the inability or unwillingness of politicians to adequately consider the limitations of economics. We may as well berate physics for the inability to develop free energy as economics for the inability to develop a universally applicable model of well-being.

Posted by: has407 on May 4, 2008 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Tenured Economist: And I do have tenure and spend more on lattes in two weeks than the job losers will save in 90 days from the gas tax.

You really need to switch to decaf.

Posted by: has407 on May 4, 2008 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Mussolini? Easy, there, Bobby. Maybe just take a deep breath and back away from the keyboard."

How about Eva Peron? Is that better for ya, Patty?

Posted by: Bob on May 4, 2008 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

Anyway, back to the point...

It looks like Clinton's bill was introduced 5/2: S.2971 A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for a suspension of the highway fuel tax, and for other purposes. (one cosponsor: Robert Menendez NJ).

The text of the bill is not yet available on thomas.loc.gov, or on Clinton's site. Anyone have a link with the text of the bill? Thanks.

Posted by: has407 on May 4, 2008 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Get a horse, Hillary. Oops, not that one.

Posted by: hollywood on May 4, 2008 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0, you seem to be conflating "economists" with "Republicans".

The two groups are not the same.

Posted by: Robert Merkel on May 5, 2008 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

It's a dumb argument over nothing. I feel like I'm back in high school debate class. I'm guessing there are quite a few economists who don't think it's worth arguing about.

In a vacuum, sure. But there is no way 1) we're going to defund road building pork and 2) corporate taxes (and taxes on the wealthy) are going to have to go up (back to normal) no matter which dem wins in November.

and +- 18 cents isn't going to change the average joe's driving. It's the wrong direction and it will mostly help out taxi and truck drivers (Hey is Hillary trying to swing the democratic truck driver vote?) but it won't make much of a difference one way or the other.

Posted by: B on May 5, 2008 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, I'm not throwing my lot in with the economists who wrote my college textbooks. Everything seemed to be based upon an assumption of exponential population/job/productivity growth. I'm sure there's some reasonable stuff on sustainability out there now, but it was certainly considered wacky back then.

Posted by: B on May 5, 2008 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Common sense is still far more advanced than economics. Free trade, for ex., is so stupid that following this naive idiocy is one of the prime reasons 80% of the population think our country is on the wrong track.

Posted by: Luther on May 5, 2008 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

Bobby. Bobby. Just say "Hitler." We know its what you mean.

Posted by: Pat on May 5, 2008 at 6:34 AM | PERMALINK

It is no worse than sending all the tax rebates to the American people...If that is good for the economy why is the other not good?

New here, eh? No one here or pretty much anywhere else on the progressive blogs thought that was a sound idea, either, and the Dems in Congress who went for it were roundly criticized for their election-year pandering.

Posted by: shortstop on May 5, 2008 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

"The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to avoid being deceived by economists."
-- Joan Robinson, Cambridge University

Posted by: MsNThrope on May 5, 2008 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Low information voters don't trust economists.

Posted by: KRove on May 5, 2008 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

The Republicans have been pandering for years and won elections. McCain pandered and Hillary trumped him, and Obama was slow, he now offers $1000.00 tax cut.

Hillary won the round, if her bill gets to the floor she makes them stand up and be counted. Just think, all the Republicans voting against a tax cut and Bush putting in a veto. Hillaryous.

Posted by: renate on May 5, 2008 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

How many recessions have there been since the passage of NAFTA?

Posted by: Michael Ejercito on May 5, 2008 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

"'Most economists do advocate free trade because it results in greater overall efficiency and lower prices for the goods we all consume. However, most economists have also pointed out both the benefits and the cost of free trade. The catch is that the costs tend to be borne by a few while the benefits are diffused.'

And how precisely, exactly, did economists calculate how many would suffer from those "costs", and how large might be the "benefits" that are diffused?

In short, the sort of generalized caveat you offer up is cheap and worthless as it stands, and seems to do a better job covering the asses of economists than it does to protect the American public from harm incurred in following your recommendations."

Frankly, frankly0, if you're interested in scoring points, fine. You win. If you're interested in learning something, I would suggest you use Google scholar and check NAFTA and filter by journals like American Economic Review or Review of Economics and Statistics or Journal of International Money and Finance. You'll find that the profession generally had it correct. That the discussion never made much of a dent in the press is not the fault of economists.

Posted by: Rich on May 5, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't it true though, that most economists are basically in the tank for the wealthy? It's not really an objective science, and they take advantage of that.

Posted by: NB on May 5, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

And renate moves from "really, it's sound policy!" to "okay, it's blatant pandering, but that's good" without even shifting gears. I have to admire his or her bold disregard for personal dignity.

Hillary won the round, if her bill gets to the floor she makes them stand up and be counted.

She sure does. Just think of all those Democratic superdelegates standing up and being counted on an idea every other Democrat knows is absurd. And Hillary needs them to vote for her...oh, you didn't think of that in your strategerizing? No, I guess you didn't. Neither did Shortsighted Sally, apparently.

Posted by: shortstop on May 5, 2008 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop,
Gas will go up one way or the other. $120.00 a barrel today, the tax at the pump is still 18.4 cents.

Obama trumped Hillary, he offers $1000.00 tax deductible. That adds up to how many $$$ per month?

But Obama would never pander to the voters.

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