John McCain on the economy

by on January 26, 2008 at 7:46 am in Political Science | Permalink

Matt Yglesias writes:

…these would be my sober-minded, non-psychic points about John McCain and the economy:

All of this leads me to conclude that John McCain would not govern very well on economic policy issues…

On policy, I am heartened if he realizes he does not understand economics.  Are the other Republican candidates equally self-aware

I don’t put much weight on what the Republican candidates say about economics one way or the other.  In the current situation a Republican should favor whichever candidate would be most popular in office.  That candidate would have the best chance to check a Democratic Congress or perhaps put forward some alternative agenda.  Furthermore national interest-minded Presidents tend to favor better economic policies than does Congress, especially if that President is of your party persuasion.  A Democrat should favor, on economic issues at least, whichever Republican is most vain and most likely to seek fame in office.  That means lots of legislation passed and working with a Democratic Congress on issues such as health care. 

Two points: a) I don’t have strong views on which particular candidates fit these descriptions, and b) foreign policy is in any case more important for evaluating a candidate overall. 

Here Matt discusses McCain’s economic advisors.  Here is Dave Leonhardt on McCain and the economy.  I assume, by the way, that McCain’s invocation of Kemp and Gramm is an attempt to build a right-wing coalition, not an actual statement of his preferences.

1 John Thacker January 26, 2008 at 9:23 am

He thinks spending cuts will stimulate the economy.

Of course, linking to a Meyerson column that claims that offshoring has caused our economic troubles and that we should be more nationalistic in our tax code does not predispose me to accept this argument. The Meyerson column does not, in fact, provide evidence of McCain saying that spending cuts will stimulate the economy. Instead, it provides evidence of McCain wanting to cut taxes to stimulate the economy (especially business taxes) but to partially pay for them with spending cuts aimed primarily at earmarks and pork that he finds wasteful.

Meyerson argues from a Keynesian perspective that this policy would harm the economy, and is ill-timed at this point in the business cycle. That’s certainly an understandable viewpoint, but I’m sure that you can find economists who would argue that cutting wasteful spending while cutting corporate taxes and taxes on investment would stimulate the economy in the long run and who are negative on the idea of a short-run stimulus.

McCain argues that cutting earmarked spending and pork will not harm the economy short term, particularly not if combined with cutting taxes that discourage capital investment. That’s not all that ignorant or controversial a position to take. After all, I don’t see that many economists arguing that increased earmark spending is the way to stimulate the economy; indeed, Huckabee was laughed at for essentially proposing such a thing.

2 steve January 26, 2008 at 10:12 am

I’m confused by your hyerlink to Huckabee’s highway proposal. Your implied comment sems to be that the proposal is weak and demonstrates Huckabee’s lack of awareness of his weakness on economics. Why? Government spending is more effective than tax cuts, from a Keynesian perspective. And this particular proposal seems to address the typical critique of government spending stimulus leading to a vast grab bag of pork projects, because it is one big, simple, national project. My initial reaction to this proposal is very positive. what am I missing?

3 Tyler Cowen January 26, 2008 at 10:18 am

Correct Kurt, the indented material is Matt’s, maybe it does not show up as such on all browser settings.

4 Bernard Yomtov January 26, 2008 at 12:14 pm

In the current situation a Republican should favor whichever candidate would be most popular in office. That candidate would have the best chance to check a Democratic Congress or perhaps put forward some alternative agenda.

Shouldn’t it matter what the “alternative agenda” is likley to be?

5 Eliot W. January 26, 2008 at 6:55 pm

According to the McCain campaign website, Martin Feldstein, Anne Krueger, Ken Rogoff, Harvey Rosen, and John Taylor are all signed on as “economic policy advisers”. The same page lists Kemp in an entirely different section, labeled “Former Cabinet Secretaries”.

http://www.johnmccain.com/Supporters/

6 Martin January 26, 2008 at 10:38 pm

John Thacker has a more balanced point of view. I’m disappointed by the lack of depth and scope in the original post: it’s not MR material.

7 sourcreamus January 28, 2008 at 2:08 pm

My guess is that McCain would be the most popular Republican should he be elected because of his skill at handling the press. McCain also seems very vain. So by your logic the GOP and the democrat party should both support McCain as he will enact their policy preferences. This seeems contradictory to me.

8 Peter Schaeffer January 29, 2008 at 7:47 am

“On policy, I am heartened if he realizes he does not understand economics.”

John McCain doesn’t understand advanced economics topics such as “supply” and “demand”. See the following from “Republican Elitist Watch” (http://thismodernworld.com/2811)

Sen. John McCain threatened on Tuesday to cut short a speech to union leaders who booed his immigration views and later challenged his statements on organized labor and the
Iraq war.

“If you like, I will leave,† McCain told the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, pivoting briefly from the lectern. He returned to the microphone after the crowd quieted.
. . .
Later, the senator outlined his position on the Senate immigration debate, saying tougher border enforcement must be accompanied by guest-worker provisions that give illegal immigrants a legal path toward citizenship.

Murmurs from the crowd turned to booing. “Pay a decent wage!† one audience member shouted.

“I’ve heard that statement before,† McCain said before threatening to leave.
. . .
But he took more questions, including a pointed one on his immigration plan.

McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.

Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain’s job offer.

“I’ll take it!† one man shouted.

McCain insisted none of them would do such menial labor for a complete season. “You can’t do it, my friends.†

Some in the crowd said they didn’t appreciate McCain questioning their work ethic.

“I was impressed with his comedy routine and ability to tap dance without music. But I was impressed with nothing else about him,† said John Wasniewski of Milwaukee. “He’s supposed to be Mr. Straight Talk?†

9 Jeugenen February 7, 2008 at 5:35 pm

SHALL THE REAGAN CONSERVATIVES EXPEL THE PODHORETZ NEO-CONS

Paul, Huckabee, and Romney are the Reagan Conservatives for God and Constitution; McCain is the Podhoretz Neo-Con for the un-constitutional McCain-Feingold suppression of internet freedom of speech, the immoral sacrificial killing of children by their mothers, the treasonous amnesty for illegal Mexican immigrants, and the sacrifice of the wealth and blood of the American People in un-constitutional wars for Israel.

Shall these Podhoretz Neo-Con traitors against God and Constitution be justly expelled from the Republican Party by the Reagan Conservatives; or, shall they be allowed to continue to subvert it? Shall McCain have a date for the presidency; or shall he have date for the Conservative Republican firing squad?

Google: Mearsheimer Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy; Stricherz Why the Democrats are Blue; Wall Street Journal McCain-Feingold; Human Events Ron Paul Interview; Who Would the World Elect.

10 Jeugenen February 7, 2008 at 5:48 pm

MEXICAN ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION REFORM ECONOMICS

It is very economically advantageous to use cheap Mexican seasonal agricultural guest workers; it is very socially and economically disadvantageous to let them stay after the crop is harvested.

When seasonal guest workers do return to Mexico at end of the growing season, they return with money and experience, to contribute to the development of Mexico; and each year, when a new group of seasonal guest workers comes, they are eager to work for the same low non-citizen wages.

And, when they return to Mexico at end of the growing season, they do not drive down the wages of American workers, by competing for jobs in landscaping, construction, sanitation, and housekeeping; and they do not use American governmental social services.

Mexico is land rich in natural resources; what makes it so socially and economically poor are its Mexican People; and wherever they immigrate they bring their deplorable civilization with them. It is so inferior than none of them want to return to it.

The Mexican dream of regaining political control over Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California is America’s worst nightmare. Starting at all of the border towns, and spreading northward throughout America, like cancers, are thousands of deplorable Mexican neighborhoods.

With each deportation America looks, smells, and sounds less like socially and economically deplorable Mexico. America is presently occupied by 12-15 million Mexicans.

With the deportation of all the illegal immigrants, students will again be able to get good paying summer jobs, to learn responsibility and earn their way through college; blue-collar wages will rise; border towns will not be slums; Spanish will not be a second language; crime will go down; hospitals and prisons will not be overcrowded.

When seasonal guest workers come from all of the countries of Latin America, on a strict quota system, then every country benefits, not Mexico exclusively; and when they are well treated, the experience is mutually positive.

When all of the illegal aliens are deported, the Neo-Lib Democrats and Neo-Con Republicans will lose millions of political supporters, and the vast donations that they receive from the Mexican Lobby; and, those American businesses that exploit cheap Mexican labor will lose their illegal competitive advantages.

No rich superior civilization in the World can coexist side by side with a poor inferior civilization, without a great wall or fence, strict guest labor laws, armed border guards, and fines for hiring illegal aliens.

11 John Lewis Mealer June 13, 2008 at 1:14 am

John McCain has the ONLY viable economic plan of the candidates. What is it you cannot realize with McCain’s plan for American’s to RETHINK, REFORM, REINVENT?

John McCain is the manistay behind Mealer Companies, an Arizona based Green Engineering firm that is funded to manufacture USA automobiles and other green engineered equipment in Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Idaho and very possibly Oklahoma.

These businesses will be kicked off with John McCain’s own 3R schooling ideas that will retrain Americans to the new version of manufacturing across America.

Just think… Each new MFG company will require hundreds if not thousands of support industries, not to mention housing, road work, and all the additional infrastructure that the USA needs to keep Americans working. The schools will be partially funded with the sales of high quality USA merchandise (tools, etc.) and students should be able to actually be paid to learn trades that will help re-build America.

What is it you people cannot grasp when the VERB work comes about? Sure, it’s a noun, but not a noun interceded by welfare and unemployment checks!
The democrats thrive on welfare and work as a noun that they often substitute with government subsidies.

This is AMERICA. This is not the soviet union where they could watch the wives work in factories while the men drink vodka all day.

John McCain has THE only viable plan and his plan will work. Anything else will turn into corporate welfare.
The Corporations are already leaving the states due to democratically controlled workers unions and special interest groups that control the democratic party.

We need a strong America and that strong America will only come to be with the leadership and economic outlook of John McCain. Get on board and do what is right… Forget the ‘first of first’ gimmick candidate, we need a true American and not someone bent on destroying us from within.

12 John Lewis Mealer August 1, 2008 at 12:16 am

JOHN McCAIN’S 3R ECONOMIC PLAN 2008
Abbreviated version
Progressive thinking Republican Candidate John McCain comes through for America with his 3R economic plan. In the persona of Theodore Roosevelt, McCain’s plan just makes sense.
FIRST , keep in mind that to drop the fuel tax, the local gov’ts would crash. We must use the 3R to replace taxes lost from replaced fuel through green energy (Yes, we have it ready to go!)
http://www.betterconstructed.com
1. RETHINK: America must see globally on what America is capable of in our current state of technology, engineering and meet the demands that face the world.
Private Sector framework is in place and current laws allow the 3R to happen. The Progressive attitude of John McCain to get things done by crossing party lines will resurrect America.
2. REFORM: The American people must demand higher quality products and less restricted trade routes for Made in USA components. We will lead the way of MFG again!
The USA will reform its dead manufacturing base
3. REINVENT: America and Americans must reinvent themselves to reach and maintain these standards and by sheer American ingenuity, control the world’s marketplace in the competitive manner, as the USA has always been proud to be #1.
NUTS AND BOLTS of the plan are simple.
Billions of savings equates to millions of lost tax revenue from energy companies. The US needs a separate tax revenue source before we can move away from fossil fuels.
McCain 3R solution.
McCain’s 3R is about technical, closely monitored and rapid hands on training from pros to create new pros. Thousands of currently-job-displaced “once leaders in the manufacturing arena† will be asked to train and play instructor rolls in the 3R plan. Paid, of course, as these new leaders will help create a whole new style of prosperous America. A massive restructure providing thousands New American MFG means millions of new jobs for infrastructure alone.
We have the buildings, needs and infrastructure to do this!
New jobs is the mainstay for Creating a new guard for Social Security.
This is the new place for financial speculators to invest!
McCain’s Progressive nature embodies Theodore Roosevelt more than any US presidential candidate in history since the original Rough Rider blazed the greatest era of growth in America.
We need John McCain to lead our nation with the same type of change.
Men and women of all races on equal ground operating their own businesses or taking part as an employee. No more hyphenated Americans! Thinking like Theodore Roosevelt all the way to a stronger America.
http://www.betterconstructed.com
THIS 3R DRAFT COURTESY OF:
John Lewis Mealer, Founding President of Mealer Companies

Obama’s speeches and website outline his plans.
IF Obama is elected he would crush this nation by doing the following:
Obama’s World Poverty Bill (Google it) would be passed and take ALL of the US Gross Domestic Profit earnings to give to the UN for distribution to African nations (seriously, GOOGLE IT) (All 7%. Which is the US profit margin).
Guns would be also gathered up according to Obama’s Global Poverty Bill plan (Did you Google it yet?)
Obama plans to heavily tax the investor class and no new small businesses would come into being (esp with the bank failures going on at the moment and no new loans being issued).
America would stagnate and begin to fall apart without small business growth.
Obama’s tax on the investor class also takes away incentives for lower classes to strive to become wealthier people.
Did you hope to begin your own business someday?

Obama says NO! Only Obama’s guidelines of new businesses and new business owners with or without training to run a business.. He could care less.
Obama must keep us in our place, after-all.
Obama would immediately tax the large corporations which are already just barely balanced between the democrat instituted American Workers Union ridiculous demands and simply closing up and moving overseas or to Mexico.
The USA corporate infrastructure would be destroyed within a year.
Obama would force the remaining small businesses to pay totally unaffordable health care for employees and they too, would close up and go out of business even before finding health care, IF it were available.
This will really hurt the women business owners who employ mostly younger women in retail, who have higher health care coverage.
THEN Obama comes up with some LIE that he wants to give small business $5K per covered worker. Do you realize how many workers there are in small businesses throughout America? How would he pay for those TRILLIONS?!! Talk about not even thinking about how grand of a lie he tries to weave.
Obama will over tax and over extend this country so quickly and at the worst time that we will DIE as a nation.
If you want the USA to watch America die, then you surely want Obama to become president and vice versa.
Obama wants to keep us “dumb and stupid†¦ and in our place, and clinging to our guns, faiths and ideals††¦ Not his quote, exactly, but the same words, thoughts and deeds from Obama’s ‘better-than-thou crowd’.
This is real life.
McCain 3R Plan is a start, but Obama’s view is obviously the end of the USA

13 小怡 February 4, 2009 at 4:42 am

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