Matt Yglesias writes:
…these would be my sober-minded, non-psychic points about John McCain and the economy:
- He’s not good at projecting empathy.
- His major political theme about the need to "serve a cause greater than self-interest" is not well-suited to projecting empathy.
- McCain’s background is in the military, his first political work was military-related, and his strong political issues involve national security.
- McCain says he doesn’t understand economics.
- McCain really doesn’t appear to understand economics:
- He has a tendency to flip-flop not on specific economic policies, but on broad economic themes like whether or not inequality is a problem.
- His constituents in the elite press are weirdly obsessed with the idea that public policy should force average people to endure economic pain.
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.