Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 9, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

MORE McCAIN-ONOMICS....This is amusing. A couple of Politico reporters called some of the 300 economists who "enthusiastically support" John McCain's "Jobs for America" plan and found that their support was somewhat less enthusiastic than advertised:

In interviews with more than a dozen of the signatories, Politico found that, far from embracing McCain's economic plan, many were unfamiliar with — or downright opposed to — key details. While most of those contacted by Politico had warm feelings about McCain, many did not want to associate themselves too closely with his campaign and its policy prescriptions.

....Constantine Alexandrakis, a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, expressed second thoughts about signing. "I would describe myself as an Obama supporter," he explained. "Maybe I shouldn't have rushed into signing the letter."

Maybe he shouldn't have! As for the others, it turns out that they merely signed on to a brief statement of intent (low taxes, low spending, free trade, etc.), not the 15-page number-free plan that McCain released on Monday. So there's no telling how much of his plan they actually support.

Now, this is good sport, to be sure, but there's also a serious side to this stuff. Somebody who's not me ought to start dialing up the other 280+ signatories and find out just how much of McCain's plan they really support. Do they think the current Social Security funding mechanism is a disgrace? Are they in favor of a gas tax holiday? Do they think his multi-trillion tax cut will increase revenues? Inquiring minds want to know.

Kevin Drum 1:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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Comments

Potemkin economists!

Cutting taxes raises revenue! Comrade Laffer has said it!
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 9, 2008 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Ahhhh, the gas tax holiday. It was good, right Thersites?

Posted by: optical weenie on July 9, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Not to sound like a broken record but . . .

Can you imagine what the response would be if a Democrat had done this?

Seriously. The McCain campaign gets a bunch of economists to endorse a 400-word statement of economic principles, then months later attaches those names to a 15-page economic plan. And although the 'plan' is much more detailed than the original brief statement, it falls far short of being what any serious economist would call a plan.

If John Kerry or Barack Obama had done something like this, we would hear right-wing blowhards AND the MSM screeching about it for the next 4 months. And they would be right to do so.

We know the wingnuts will continue to pretend the economists' endorsements mean something, but will the supposedly respectable media sources point out McCain's economics policies AND his laughable tactics for the pathetic joke they are?

As usual, I'm not going to hold my breath.

Posted by: David Bailey on July 9, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

It was wonderful, Weenie. And the doctor says that with a few more Penicillin shots I should be fine.

Posted by: thersites on July 9, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Do they think the current Social Security funding mechanism is a disgrace?

You'd be hard-pressed to find a responsible economist who would endorse the social security pyramid scheme.

Posted by: Al on July 9, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Oh! I forgot to tell you Thersites, that the strain I have is penicillan resistant. You'll have to get a different scrip. Sorry for the extra co-pay, I know you are having trouble paying for the shoes.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 9, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody who's not me ought to start dialing up the other 280+ signatories and find out just how much of McCain's plan they really support.

C'mon, Kevin. The MSM is busy with important stuff, like trying to decide how big a flip-flopper on Iraq Obama has been. That's the sort of issue that's important to Americans. Not this economics stuff.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on July 9, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I want the bronze keyboard back. The one that can't spell "penicillin."

Posted by: thersites on July 9, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds to me like these economists are scrambling because McInsane's "plan" is more threadbare than they could have dreamed. But why would they sign onto anything without knowing more details? Wouldn;t any salient person want to know how he planned to cut taxes, cut spending and narrow the deficit. I guess they're not concerned about tarnishing their good names.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on July 9, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

In interviews with more than a dozen of the signatories, Politico found that, far from embracing McCain's economic plan, many were unfamiliar with — or downright opposed to — key details.

Wait a minute -- there were details? And enough of them that you could consider some "key?" We're not talking about page numbers here, are we?

Somebody who's not me ought to start dialing up the other 280+ signatories and find out just how much of McCain's plan they really support. Do they think the current Social Security funding mechanism is a disgrace? Are they in favor of a gas tax holiday? Do they think his multi-trillion tax cut will increase revenues?

One more question. How much of their own money are they willing to bet that King Midas will balance the budget? I want in on some of that action.

Posted by: junebug on July 9, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

All good campaign fun. But put yourself in Sen. Obama's place. He's running to succeed a President with approval ratings stuck in the mid-20s, against a candidate who is well-liked and well-respected. Yet he and his supporters are expending most of their energy trying to draw contrasts between Obama and Sen. McCain, not between Obama and President Bush.

Boy, but this is really doing things the hard way. The No. 1 question voters have about Obama is, "what kind of President would this guy be?" That's a real question, of course, but it's also a campaign question, the kind that the candidate will have to supply some kind of answer to. And the way to do this is wide open.

Look, George W. Bush is unpopular for some very good reasons. A lot of them can be used to draw contrasts in ways that bypass partisan divisions altogether. As President, Bush has goofed off a lot. He's spent more time at his ranch than Reagan did at his, and Reagan was over 70 and had been shot. Bush indulges in a lot of big, empty talk. Bush can barely make it from one end of a complete English sentence to the other. Bush's own press secretary has said he runs the White House like a permanent campaign. Bush has allowed himself, on some very important issues, to be run by his Vice President, something no other American President ever did. Bush classified information just to avoid political embarrassment. Bush fired one US Attorney after another to influence specific prosecutions. Bush appointed an Attorney General who avoided perjuring himself by claiming a faulty memory. Bush put his campaign manager in charge of domestic policy. And on and on.

With all that material to work with, does it make sense for Obama to spend time arguing whether his economic plan adds up better than McCain's? Is that a better way to answer the campaign question about Obama (what kind of President would this guy be?) than pointing to all the things people don't like about Bush that a President Obama would do differently?

This can't be said too often: no Presidential election is primarily about the future. It is always a referendum on the incumbent administration. If the public is closely divided on this question, the election can go either way; if the incumbent administration is very unpopular, the candidate of the other party is a prohibitive favorite. Maybe it's possible to make John McCain unpopular in this campaign -- unpopular, that is, among people other than those who would never vote for a Republican anyway. It's just not necessary. American voters can like and respect John McCain while still voting for Barack Obama.

Posted by: Zathras on July 9, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Ummm . . . David Bailey, Kerry did exactly the same thing. And in fact, AFAIK, his plan contained things that the economists who signed on didn't support, just as McCain's does. This is a non-story. Ahhh, summer.

Posted by: Megan McArdle on July 9, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds to me like one of those "brilliant" economists, who let their names be used fraudulently, ought to consult his/her colleagues to find out how many do not want their name affixed to McCain's "plan." Might be a large enough number to make page A17.

Posted by: David in NY on July 9, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Megan's gotten the DNC memo, sounds like. They just rewrote the standard form that says "Clinton did it" to say "Kerry did it." I'm sure the fact that Kerry did it makes it much, much less deceptive, not to say dishonest, right? Christ on a cracker, Megan, where's your moral compass?

Posted by: David in NY on July 9, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Why are you torturing this poor POW?

Posted by: John McCain: More of the Same on July 9, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and a link to the Kerry business would be polite, as well. AFAIK's don't count.

Posted by: David in NY on July 9, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.pimco.com/LeftNav/Featured+Market+Commentary/IO/2008/IO+July+2008.htm

Bill Gross wants to significantly increase the deficit.

http://www.financialsense.com/editorials/petillo/2008/0709.html
Doubling the deficit is hardly the kind of attention you want to draw upon yourself while running for the highest office in the land. You are so busy trying to make sure your campaign stays on message, the media gives you a fair break and the other side doesn’t find some reason or another to throw you under the bus.

But adding to the ballooning budget is exactly what bond king Bill Gross of PIMCO would like the next president to do and posthaste. He has no worries when it comes to the Republican presumptive candidate John McCain. His proudly worn mantle as Bush 3.0 suggests, as the moniker does, that Mr. McCain will continue to add to the economic woes that the current White House resident so aptly caused. He will do so by continuing to cut taxes in the face of that deficit, fully fund the war and pander to big business in much the same way. -Paul Petillo


This is fiscal insanity.

Posted by: Jet on July 9, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

They were just buying a game plan from the global warming denialists, who published a large list of scientists who deny AGW. Aside from the fact that most weren't scientists, or worked in fields that required absolutely no knowledge of climate, it turns out many of those signers had never in fact been asked if they wanted to be included on the list. So by those standards, McCains rules of engagement are a breath of fresh air -at least he asked the signatories if they at least nominally agreed with a few Republican economic notions.

Posted by: bigTom on July 9, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Megan seems to have bugged off. But here's a link about what Kerry and Bush did, since she didn't provide one. http://www.sptimes.com/2004/10/20/Columns/Economists_mirror_pol.shtml They, like McCain, had economists sign letters of support for them. What they did not do was to make the false claim that those economists supported a particular economic plan that they had not seen and they had not endorsed. That's different, it's dishonest, and it's cheating. (And it would be these things even if Kerry had done the same thing.)

Posted by: David in NY on July 9, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

You'd be hard-pressed to find a responsible economist who would endorse the social security pyramid scheme.-AL

You mean economyths.

The problem isnt in the social security system, its with the poliricians who have been stuffing the piggy bank with IOU's to pay off the deficits.

Posted by: Jet on July 9, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Megan,

It looks like David in NY has my back on this, but to reiterate: Did Kerry solicit economists to endorse statement A, and then turn around and claim those same economists also endorsed statement B, which they had never even seen? AFAIK, he did not.

It seems to me that the press could very easily write a story about McCain's central campaign strategy, which is, quite bluntly, lying. He claims Obama has reversed his position on Iraq and now shares McCain's view, which is clearly false. He claims 300 economists endorse a plan they've never seen, which isn't really a plan at all. He claims he never said the U.S. would be in Iraq 100 years, when there are multiple video clips showing him saying just that.

Unfortunately, I agree with your conclusion that it's a 'non-story', because no one in the press wants to write it.

Posted by: David Bailey on July 9, 2008 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Yet he and his supporters are expending most of their energy trying to draw contrasts between Obama and Sen. McCain, not between Obama and President Bush.

Zathras presumes, falsely, that there's a difference.

Posted by: Gregory on July 9, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Megan's gotten the glibertarian memo, sounds like.

Fixed.

Christ on a cracker, Megan, where's your moral compass?

It got broken by a 2x4.

Posted by: Gregory on July 9, 2008 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm, do glibertarians have moral compasses? Anyway, thanks for the edits and answers, Gregory. And always glad to help, David Bailey, especially when some pundit is playing willfully stupid.

Posted by: David in NY on July 9, 2008 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

The REAL question, though: Was Laura Bush’s grandmother a lesbian?

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on July 9, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Here's some commentary by/about Republicans who don't like John McCain's economic policies, linked out from DeLong:
http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/market-movers/2008/07/08/the-economic-policy-of-john-mccain?rss=true

Posted by: Neil B. on July 9, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Megan McMoron--is that what passes for intelligent commentary and debate at the Atlantic? Glad I never wasted my money on a subscription.
You give trolls a bad name.

Posted by: haha on July 9, 2008 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

If they do not endorse the whole plan, they should go public with their disagreements and their demand that their names be removed. And they should sue the McCain campaign for defamation -- for this unauthorized use of their names. Assuming they care about their reputations, of course.

Posted by: focus on July 9, 2008 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Somebody who's not me ought to start dialing up the other 280+ signatories"

Loan me your WM press credential and expense account and I'll do it.

Posted by: Forrest on July 10, 2008 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans today are trying to disprove Lincoln's dictum about not being able to fool all the people all the time. Lincoln was technically right, but the GOP today might win the day with a majority.

Posted by: Independent on July 10, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK


Posted by: David in NY
"Well, Megan seems to have bugged off. But here's a link about what Kerry and Bush did, since she didn't provide one. http://www.sptimes.com/2004/10/20/Columns/Economists_mirror_pol.shtml They, like McCain, had economists sign letters of support for them. What they did not do was to make the false claim that those economists supported a particular economic plan that they had not seen and they had not endorsed. That's different, it's dishonest, and it's cheating. (And it would be these things even if Kerry had done the same thing.)"

I hope that Fallows is proud of the lying maggot that he recruited to put on the main page of the Atlantic. Of course, considering Ross Douthat and Marc Ambinder, he probably is.

Posted by: Barry on July 10, 2008 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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