The economic policy of Elizabeth Warren

Jerry Taylor has made some positive noises about her on Twitter lately, as had Will Wilkinson in earlier times.  I genuinely do not see the appeal here, not even for Democrats.  Let’s do a quick survey of some of her core views:

1. She wants to ban fracking through executive order.  This would enrich Russia and Saudi Arabia, harm the American economy ($3.5 trillion stock market gains from fracking), make our energy supply less green, and make our foreign policy more dependent on bad regimes and the Middle East.  It is perhaps the single worst policy idea I have heard this last year, and some of the worst possible politics for beating Trump in states such as Pennsylvania.

2. Her private equity plan.  Making private equity managers personally responsible for the debts of the companies they acquire probably would crush the sector.  The economic evidence on private equity is mostly quite positive.  Maybe she would eliminate the worst features of her plan, but can you imagine her saying on open camera that private equity is mostly good for the American economy?  I can’t.

3. Her farm plan.  It seems to be more nationalistic and protectionist and also more permanent than Trump’s, read here.

4. Her tax plan I: Some of the wealthy would see marginal rates above 100 percent.

5. Her tax plan II: Her proposed wealth tax would over time lead to rates of taxation on capital gains of at least 60 to 70 percent, much higher than any wealthy country ever has succeeded with.  And frankly no one has come close to rebutting the devastating critique from Larry Summers.

6. Student debt forgiveness:  The data-driven people I know on the left all admit this is welfare for the relatively well-off, rather than a truly egalitarian approach to poverty and opportunity.  Cost is estimated at $1.6 trillion, by the way (is trillion the new billion?).  Furthermore, what are the long-run effects on the higher education sector?  Do banks lend like crazy next time around, expecting to be bailed out by the government?  Or do banks cut back their lending, fearing a haircut on bailout number two?  I am genuinely not sure, but thinking the question through does not reassure me.

7. College free for all: Would wreck the relatively high quality of America’s state-run colleges and universities, which cover about 78 percent of all U.S. students and are the envy of other countries worldwide and furthermore a major source of American soft power.  Makes sense only if you are a Caplanian on higher ed., and furthermore like student debt forgiveness this plan isn’t that egalitarian, as many of the neediest don’t finish high school, do not wish to start college, cannot finish college, or already reject near-free local options for higher education, typically involving community colleges.

8. Health care policy: Her various takes on this, including the $52 trillion plan, are better thought of as (vacillating) political strategy than policy per se.  In any case, no matter what your view on health care policy she has botched it, and several other Dem candidates have a better track record in this area.  Even Paul Krugman insists that the Democrats should move away from single-payer purity.  It is hard to give her net positive points on this one, again no matter what your policy views on health care, or even no matter what her views may happen to be on a particular day.

All of my analysis, I should note, can be derived internal to Democratic Party economics, and it does not require any dose of libertarianism.

9. Breaking up the Big Tech companies: I am strongly opposed to this, and I view it as yet another attack/destruction on a leading and innovative American sector.  I will say this, though: unlike the rest of the list above, I know smart economists (and tech experts) who favor some version of the policy.  Still, I don’t see why Jerry and Will should like this promise so much.

Those are some pretty major sectors of the U.S. economy, it is not like making a few random mistakes with the regulation of toothpicks.  In fact they are the major sectors of the U.S. economy, and each and every one of them would take a big hit.

More generally, she seems to be a fan of instituting policies through executive order, a big minus in my view and probably for Jerry and Will as well?  Villainization and polarization are consistent themes in her rhetoric, and at this point it doesn’t seem her chances for either the nomination, or beating Trump, are strong in fact her conditional chance of victory is well below that of the other major Dem candidates.  So what really are you getting for all of these outbursts?

When I add all that up, she seems to have the worst economic and political policies of any candidate in my adult lifetime, with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders (whose views are often less detailed).

I do readily admit this: Warren is a genius at exciting the egalitarian and anti-business mood affiliation of our coastal media and academic elites.

If you would like to read defenses of Warren, here is Ezra Klein and here is Henry Farrell.  I think they both plausibly point to parts of the Warren program that might be good (more good for them than for me I should add, but still I can grasp the other arguments on her behalf).  They don’t much respond to the point that on #1-8, and possibly #1-9, she has the worst economic and political policies of any candidate in my adult lifetime.

For Jerry and Will, I just don’t see the attraction at all.

That said, on her foreign policy, which I have not spent much time with, she might be better, so of course you should consider the whole picture.  And quite possibly there are other candidates who, for other reasons, are worse yet, not hard to think of some.  Or you might wish to see a woman president.  Or you might think she would stir up “good discourse” on the issues you care about.  And I fully understand that most of the Warren agenda would not pass.

So I’m not trying to talk you out of supporting her!  Still, I would like to design and put into the public domain a small emoji, one that you could add to the bottom of your columns and tweets.  It would stand in for: “Yes I support her, but she has the worst proposed economic policies of any candidate in the adult lifetime of Tyler Cowen.”


"Would wreck the relatively high quality of America’s state-run colleges and universities" [SNIP]

I laughed.

People from all over the world go to the US to attend these universities. So I'd say the joke's on you.

As a boomer kid in Indiana, I wished I lived in radical leftist Reagan's California with socialist free college, but I wanted a job near the boston miracle mile where "all" the computer innovation was.

But Reagan's socialism created a crop of students getting free college education who jumped ahead of the east coast with visions of socialist computing for the masses, and during my time while socialist Reagzn was president in boston, the socialism of free college and free computing took away the innovation leadership from boston.

So, high cost colleges like MIT, UMass to Syracuse to Purdue got beat by socialist California's free tuition.

Conservatives did starve California of property taxes and conservatives made high consumer debt, with college being a consumer good paid for with debt, so California college tuition is no longer free, but it's still lower than the rest of the US.

Obviously free college is a disaster for California because it's now got an economy larger than almost every country in the world. And that's after it got rid of a huge economy driver in military spending reducing its "defense spending" to levels of the UK, Japan.

Not to mention that from the end of WWII until the 70s, millions of men got socialist free college or trade school on top of government jobs training and priority in hiring by signing up at slave wages for military socialist government labor to avoid being drzfted.

And that clearly ended badly with the creation os an expectation kids would do much better than their parents and live solidly in the middle class.

My reaction to all the free college talk is that it lacks the historical foundation of citing the results of the GI Bill plus the public industrial policy of much higher educated workforce to make the US stronger to beat the Nazis and then the commies. My parents had their education standards raised from 8th grade to 12th grade minimum, with most getting 2 years of trade school or 4 years college. That shift took place in the depression, and for boomers that expectation was locked in as public policy, until the 70s when conservatives started pushing back hard on education as too elitist.

Education was not a huge expense for students and parents until conservatives gained political power in the 70s, and a big expense when conservatives got z lot of political power in the 80s.

Not sure Stanford is socialist like you seem to think - the biggest driving factor for SV was government intervention though, or at least government refusal to honor certain types of private contracts - employees being free to jump from company to company encouraged a bigger ecosystem with many smaller companies, and some of these adapted much more favorably when the big companies on Route 128 got the new tech trends wrong.

Echo the above comment that it sounds like a probably wrong just-so-story to attribute Silicon Valley in California or post-war economic supremacy for the US to differences in education subsidisation (between California and other states, between the US and other nations). Even to the degree differences in higher education use were causal on these outcomes, seems very unlikely subsidisation made a distinctive difference?

Afterthought: In the of Silicon Valley innovation, if anything the start-up people usually talk about how the Rent Is Too Damn high after graduation to fool around running a start up out of a garage or whatever, more than the burden of loan debt.

Depends on what you think about the entire land grant system of public universities. Texas also played a major role in post WWII American technology and growth, and also has a number of free universities.

No worries. She is a proven liar and is simply telling lies to get votes.

Come now, Saul. Are you really comfortable calling a Native-American woman a liar?

Never heard of any "free" university in Texas, but free college played no role in creating Texas' prosperity. Oil was and is the cause of the growth and prosperity of the state and also the University of Texas. Give credit to the early pioneers of the industry, most of whom were assuredly not graduates of the kinds of institutions* that would benefit from their labors (Ross Sterling, who may have attended grade school, probably had more schooling than most). Give credit to UT for developing a good geology department after the fact, but don't confuse the historical record.

*Shout-out to an exception, early Exxon geologist Wallace Pratt, founder of Guadalupe Mountains National Park ... an important figure in Texas oil/gas development who actually went to college. So maybe it has civilizational benefits - the person sitting next to me doubts that college had anything to do with it.

Depends on what you make of the history of the The Permanent University Fund, established in 1876, along with the history of UT or Texas A&M.

Basically, Texas had a system quite similar to that found in California, and for many of the same reasons. Not that any college is actually free in the U.S. any longer, even if UT Austin plans to offer free tuition to students with an income level below 65,000 dollars.

I heard about that plan, which appearing as it does only now must surely stem from a fervent desire to get the politics right and stay always on the correct side of the immigration "debate". Even so, taking "free" as metaphorical rather than actual, the trend is clear. Many of us remember our UT tuition (room and board were your own affair) being so cheap that it almost seems like they must have been selling a different product back in the day.

Rex Tillerson is a UT-Austin educated engineer that couldn’t find oil in Texas. George Mitchell is the Texas A&M trained geologist that saved America by developing fracking.

High quality? Tyler must be a bit delusional again. There are some great American universities. But even most of those are engaging in teaching nonsense in most disciplines.

the great American universities you mention - I wonder at the percentage of foreign grad students and professors there...

I have tuned into all the Democratic so-called debates. These are the free-stuff debates, who can promise more free stuff, nothing more.

I doubt even the Democratic primary electorate is so foolish as to choose her.

DES MOINES, IA—There's drama afoot in the Democratic primary. Wanting to bury the tomahawk, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders walked over to Elizabeth Warren after this week's debate to have a pow-wow. Having researched Warren's culture extensively, Sanders produced an authentic Cherokee peace pipe he'd purchased on eBay for $14.99 after his grandkids showed him how to use eBay.

"How!" Sanders said, reading off some notes he'd scribbled on his hand. "I offer you peace pipe as token of friendship. Big anger go away into sky." Sanders then made the shape of a bird with his hands and pantomimed it flying away, symbolizing their feud disappearing like the spirit of a buffalo moving on to join its ancestors.

But Warren slapped the peace pipe out of his hands and crossed her arms, a sign of rejection in her culture. "No peace pipe. You have angered the Great Spirit. Leave at once, paleface." A crestfallen Sanders backed away slowly to go ask his grandkids about eBay's return policy.

Warren was reportedly conflicted over the exchange, though, wanting to open herself up to Sanders's friendship but not wanting to betray her culture. She is seeking advice from Grandmother Willow.

I really do - at least they knew how to be amusing.

I thought it was not half-bad. People are going to have to tap into their own inner Onions in this climate. It will probably be good for us.

I really do - at least they knew how to be amusing.

Emphasis on “knew”.

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DES MOINES, IA—Authorities are warning that a gang of known criminals is currently holding a meeting to debate various plots to steal your money.

The criminals are debating exactly how much of your money to steal. Some are suggesting stealing all of your money, while others would just like to steal most of your money. Whatever the case, they all agree on two things: A.) you have money and B.) it must be stolen.

"I know!" shouted one of the criminals, an older man with frizzy hair, known throughout the criminal underworld as a seasoned veteran when it comes to stealing people's money. "We could lower ourselves in through people's roofs and grab stuff like in that new movie the kids are talking about, Impossible Mission!"

"That movie is called Die Tough, you dummy," snapped one female gangster with the chiseled features of a Native American. "I think we should lie in wait in the bushes outside the mouth of a canyon in the American Southwest. Then, when the unsuspecting white man comes riding through on his horse or Tesla, we tomahawk 'em." She made a tomahawk gesture with her hand, only for another elderly man on the other side of her to grab her hand and begin sniffing it.

"Stealing money is an American pastime," he said as the frightened woman pulled her hand away. "Back in the '20s, Hotbox Nixon and Tommy-Gun Joe and I used to go driving around, taking down no-good ne'er-do-wells with our Tommy guns. Pow! Bang! Rat-a-tat-tat!"

"What were we talking about again?" he asked, snapping out of a daydream and realizing he'd been addressing a blank wall the entire time.

These goofy criminals may seem like characters out of a family-friendly screwball comedy, but authorities have warned that their plans to steal your money are very, very real.

The Babylon Bee

Sad to see MR reduced to the level of Facebook.

Sorry to see the Dems reduced to mere criminals, but the masks are off.

Who knew?

Name one Trump administration official in jail.

I doubt you can be a Trump administration official and be in jail. Even Americans probably wouldn't stand for that. But here is an article that lists Trump associates in jail or indicted:

I think we are using the same internet, so you should be able to access this information without an Australian pointing it out to you. (We like to keep track of this stuff because it's funny.)

1. Just pointing out the future doesn't look good for natural gas. Singapore plans to cut its natural gas use in half by 2030. A significant contributor to this will be putting solar panels on 350,000 homes:

Note that Singapore is not an outlier, they are behind the curve. Other nations will do much the same.

Most of the CO2 reductions that have actually been achieved in major economies including the US come from the substitution of natural gas for coal. If we could persuade China and India to switch to LNG instead of coal for their new power, we could substantially slow the rise of CO2 emissions. Don't make the enemy of the good the best.

Not how it works. Solar is cheaper than natural gas. Singapore will build solar capacity because it will save them money. Same in other nations.

In coal heavy Australia new solar and wind capacity mostly eats into coal generation, but it also reduces natural gas use. Here wholesale electricity prices are expected to fall by around 12% over the next two to three years thanks to increasing renewable capacity.

“Solar is cheaper than natural gas.”
Not even remotely.

Depends on a number of factors. Such as having remote households that are 20 miles away from the nearest possible way to connect to the grid.

Happily, crazy places like Australia, California, and now Singapore will show the World how this will play out.

In 2050 a California child asks zer grandzother, "What did you use before candles?" Grandzother answers, "Light Bulbs."

You seem to be quite old - the correct set up to that joke in 2020 is LEDs.

LED's stink, too.

Lol. Get off my lawn

He's right. We peaked at the torch. Then candles made us soft and weak. It's been downhill since then.

Officially natural gas generation costs around 13 cents in Singapore.
Looking at the natural gas spot price, at the moment it is $3.40 per gigajoule but we know Singapore is paying more than that because they locked in high prices with long term contracts.

But using the $3.40 per gigajoule figure, in a 50% efficient combined cycle power station that's a fuel cost of 2.45 cents per kilowatt-hour. Generally operating coat least 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour or higher so gives us a price of around 6 cents per kilowatt-hour or more.

Solar only works in high sunlight areas that happen to be near civilization. Furthermore, since we don't have great storage, you have to have supplementary energy plants to handle night and cloudy days. All the sun in the Gobi Desert doesn't help us very much. So solar will always be a marginal player.

Hrmmn... then how was it possible I read about people living off the grid in Belgium. The solar + battery tech is good enough today and you don't need a ton of sun. Calculate your needs + how much you'll be able to generate + how much you need to store and you are good.

What is possible with a suburban house with a big south-facing roof is not especially relevant, particularly when the home-owner's calculations don't include paying for the capital cost of storage at a realistic interest rate.

You can't generate the power needed to runs cities and factories on residential roof-tops, and the capital cost of storage must be born at prices that reflect the many other beneficial public spending options forgone instead. Electrochemical batteries do not scale well to grid-scale capacity.

When looking at the price of generation capacity, it is important to look at the capacity factor, which is the ratio of total annual power delivered divided by the total number of hours in a year. For nuclear power, the capacity factor is 95%, for natural gas or coal, well above 90%. For solar power, the capacity factor is 23% in Phoenix and 16% in Seattle. Divide nameplate cost per kW by the capacity factor and add storage costs to get the true cost of a power source.

In Nevada solar farms have been bid in with a Power Purchase Agreements of under 3 cents per kilowatt-hour. That's pretty cheap.

AB, I think you'll find people who are far away from civilization are especially fond of solar. For example, you'd be hard pressed to find an inhabited off-grid home in Australia that doesn't have solar panels. This includes Tasmania, which has a lot less sun than most of the United States.

Great, then no ban is needed. Fracking will go away on its own.

I report, you decide.

Decide what? Whether we need a ban on fracking? You support one but you give no reason. Just want to annoy people with gibberish, I guess.

1. It's a slogan from an American media company -- so like a joke.
2. I give my opinion about future natural gas prices, you decide what to do with it.

"2. I give my opinion about future natural gas prices, you decide what to do with it."

I guess I've missed it. Where did you predict future natural gas prices, and in what country (or countries)?

Mark, this part is just human interaction called stupid banter. It doesn't mean much of anything.

Apparently Singapore has no plans to cut natural gas use by 50% by 2030:

Sorry about that. I may have been thinking of somewhere else or alternatively listening too much to the nutter who wants to build a transmission line from Australia to Singapore.

This doesn't change the current facts that good quality solar panels have factory gate prices of under 25 cents per watt and that lithium battery cells are now being produced for around $100 per kilowatt-hour. Natural gas has competition.

Well, for electricity, sure. For heating in the wintertime? Not as much. Of course many places do not get too cold in the winter, but many places do. The Russians, North Americans, and Northern Europeans are not likely to stop heating their houses in the wintertime.

There's a big difference between "People are still using a lot of natural gas" and "strong demand for natural gas is keeping prices high". If you are selling natural gas you definitely want it to be the latter. Given around zero population growth in the north, falling electrical energy costs, and modern heat pumps, I'd expect gas for heating use to decline even without a carbon price.

Sort of. Oil used to be a favored way to heat houses in the winter - as remains true in much of New England in the U.S.

The need for heating can be reduced, but it remains a fact of living in a cold place. Which is why natural gas storage is so important - there is no way to supply natural gas at the level required in the winter time, so there is a large amount of (mainly natural, in the sense of existing cavern systems) storage to smooth out that fact.

And the wiki article is interesting about modern heat pumps
"Ground-source heat pumps always produce fewer greenhouse gases than air conditioners, oil furnaces, and electric heating, but natural gas furnaces may be competitive depending on the greenhouse gas intensity of the local electricity supply. In countries like Canada and Russia with low emitting electricity infrastructure, a residential heat pump may save 5 tons of carbon dioxide per year relative to an oil furnace, or about as much as taking an average passenger car off the road. But in cities like Beijing or Pittsburgh that are highly reliant on coal for electricity production, a heat pump may result in 1 or 2 tons more carbon dioxide emissions than a natural gas furnace. For areas not served by utility natural gas infrastructure, however, no better alternative exists."

Natural gas will not go away any time soon in colder climes. Replacing coal with natural gas is an important step in several ways, even when combined with heat pumps.

Even assuming gas use for building and industrial heat remains constant, the 5 year period from 2003 to 2008 where Asian gas prices were around $10 per gigajoule seems unlikely to return. Adjusting for inflation, the Asian price is less than one-third that now and isn't expected to firm up any time soon. So low prices will help keep natural gas use high, but it won't be a great time to invest in new natural gas export capacity.

@Crikey, I expect both will be better than just Solar for at least 20 years.
NG is need for nitrogen for agriculture and manufacturing etc.

Gas use won't disappear. Domestic use went up 1.5% per capita in Australia last year while coal use dropped. Domestic coal use is now down 21% from its peak in 2008. Natural gas use won't disappear but with new solar in the US being bid in at 3 cents per kilowatt-hour it will chew into gas generation in gas heavy grids and so natural gas prices are likely to remain weak. I'm saying natural gas prices are going to be low, not natural gas use is about to disappear.

"1. Just pointing out the future doesn't look good for natural gas."

My prediction for the U.S. is that electricity from natural gas will increase from 1285 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2017 to 1850 billion kWh in 2030, and 2500 billion kWh in 2050. Not too shabby!

A 90% increase in natural gas use by 2050 when population is expected to increase by only around 33% and US primary energy consumption has hardly shifted from 2000? What will cause a 50%+ per capita increase?

I am a swing voter that voted for Obama and participated in the 2016 Republican primary but ended up voting for Hillary. Prior to the Ukraine scandal I didn’t think Trump was a bad president but I still planned on voting for a Democrat...until that first debate. I honestly thought that was the craziest debate I had ever seen and could not believe what those nuts were proposing. I made up my mind to vote for Trump...and then the Ukraine scandal happened.

The craziest moments were Booker patting himself on the back for proposing to spend more on green technology than another candidate and then Bernie making a big deal about the fact he wrote a bill?!? Uh, I propose we spend $5 trillion on the Greenest New Deal! Boom, I am a courageous person! I just wrote a bill that gives everyone free health care! Now give me my Profile in Courage! I still can’t figure out what polls the Democrats were looking at or maybe they just learned the wrong lessons from 2016?!?

Btw, Medicare for All makes more sense at the state level and you don’t see Bernie and Warren providing the leadership for that to happen. You know why? Because the way you save money is pay doctors and hospitals less! The way you start the program is by taking away the policies of state and university employees and replacing them with the state Medicare for All policies! Taking on doctors and hospitals and state employees would take courage.

"I made up my mind to vote for Trump...and then the Ukraine scandal happened."

What an astounding coincidence!

It really is quite a scandal when a Democrat who refuses to step forward accuses you of doing something Joe Biden openly brags about doing.

Actually what Hunter Biden did happens all the time. So Kushner’s sister traded on his name selling EB-5 visas in China. There is no evidence that Kushner or Joe Biden knew what their unethical family member was up to so they did not engage in the unethical behavior.

Now there is overwhelming evidence that Trump abused his power and at the very least Republican senators should demand he drop out of the 2020 race.

Tyler, you claim that Warren" has the worst economic and political policies of any candidate in my adult lifetime." Maybe on economic policy that's right. But not on other policy dimensions. George Wallace, as a major third party candidate in '68, and David Duke, as a Republican candidate in '92, pushed the very worst, most loathsome political positions imaginable.

You think Tyler might've been born before 1950??

Gus Hall was the Communist Party candidate from 1972 through 1984. He might have had worse policies. Or he might not have.

According to Wikipedia, Tyler was 4 during the Wallace campaign. Duke was an extreme fringe candidate who got 0.94% of the vote against incumbent Bush. Surely it's reasonable to assume we are talking about meaningful candidacies here.

Wallace ran three times - he was shot in Maryland in 1972, and ran again in 1976.

One could argue that the Wallace of the 1970s was a bit different, and thus possibly not as bad as David Duke.

Tyler was not an adult for any of those presidential runs...

Excellent point - he was undoubtedly completely ignorant of politics as a young teenager, skipped all his civics classes in the 1970s, and was otherwise utterly indifferent to what was happening to his nation. A nation that spent his childhood losing the Vietnam War and was suffering from a deep economic recession after his first decade. This qualification allows him to conveniently exclude the policies of Republican president Nixon's wage and price controls as presented in the 1972 election.

Anybody offering such a program on the Democratic side these days?

That Nixon was a total gun grabber is a thing that Tyler might not have noticed back in those law and order days, as places like NJ already had what apparently these days is considered near totalitarian levels of gun control already.

Who cares...his claim, which is what was being discussed, was about candidates when he was an adult.

You are right, of course. Modern history starts around 1980, with the glories of Ronald Reagan.

And this being a place where PC doesn't rule, I am happy to write that Elizabeth Warren is the female candidate with the worst proposed economic policies of any female candidate in my adult lifetime.

Along with happily writing Elizabeth Warren is the Native American candidate with the worst proposed economic policies of any Native American candidate in my adult lifetime.

Would an emoji featuring a feather headdress be appropriate?

This is prior level autism.

Go back to using your handle.

Oops, thought Tyler was older than he is. Apologies. Still, David Duke applies. Fringe candidate or not, he ran for the GOP nomination.

So did Buchanan and his ideas were, and are, pretty nutty too.

OK, you win:

Elizabeth Warren: At least she's not David Duke

Feel better now?

Not trying to "win." Just trying to emphasize that, once you step beyond economic policy, it isn't hard to find political candidates with really loathsome positions. With Warren, it's enough (and I think rhetorically more effective) to focus on economic policy rather than all policy.

Also, Herman Cain's 9–9–9 Plan was really stupid, and could possibly compete with Warren's economic promises.

Again, not trying to defend Warren. Just highlighting the many incompetents who run for president.

...that the craziness of running for president is keeping sane, capable people well clear of it. So all you have left are nutjobs like Trump and Sanders and Warren and so on.

Donald Pretari said...
I'm not sure if this is sound, but G.W. Bush, McCain, and Romney, ran campaigns pushing views they didn't really favor. Trump is running on the premise that he's telling you what he thinks. Somehow, given that he doesn't seem to know exactly what he thinks, some people believe him. Maybe, it's that he has never been a politician. In any case, if elected, his spending plans will pass, and everything else will go nowhere, and yet another GOP president will increase the deficit/ debt. It's going to be a lot more business as usual than many people assume.
Reply September 28, 2016 at 12:00 PM"

This was my take, and I think it looks like a decent prediction given where we are. The same would be true of Sanders or Warren. I don't support a Wealth Tax, Corporate Taxes, the Farm Plan, but it doesn't matter, because none of the above listed policies are going to pass in anything like the form stated. If people were really serious about fearing Warren or Sanders, they would go back and look at what Trump promised as a candidate, most of which was waved off as not going to happen. I'm still waiting for Mexico to pay for the wall, and the seizing oil fields where we see fit. Get a grip.

Calling the current economy "business as usual" kills your credibility.

Trump's proposals were unusually lacking in detail, and he made an unusual amount of crazy claims for a candidate. But the idea that we shouldn't take his views seriously doesn't seem to have aged well. He has appointed conservatives to the Supreme Court and pushed hard on the issues that made up the core of his platform: renegotiating trade deals, clamping down immigration, building a wall (though not very successfully on that front), renegotiating relationships with allies such as NATO...and so on.

It's possible that Warren is not serious, but not taking her seriously seems dangerous. Lots of Democrats genuinely want the stuff she proposes but have been constrained by political reality. She has highly detailed serious proposals about everything, including plans for how to enact them (including using executive order to bypass the moderating influence of Congress). If she is elected, and actually believes in this stuff, she could be a major game changer.

Interesting how easily we forget that Mexico was going to pay for that wall.

As for rearranging things with NATO - yes, he has done an excellent job in having other NATO members look at how they need to put their interests first, as the U.S. can no longer be relied on for guidance in creating policies that the alliance can support.

The Soviets/Russians spent an immense amount of time and effort over decades trying to remove NATO as an adversary. Trump seems to be able to do things in this regard that even the KGB could not imagine being able to pull off in its wildest dreams.

No one has said worse things about Trump than me, but he hasn't been able to force Mexico to pay for the wall, seize oil fields to help offset what we've spent in the Middle East, enact Congressional term limits, and a bunch of other dimwit proposals. Is it possible for people to use the internet and go back and see what Trump said?

If Warren or Sanders are even modestly pragmatic, which I predict they will be, there's no reason not to vote for them based upon the asinine assumption that they'l be able to do anything more than marginally move our government to the left. I despise Trump, but if you follow him , then vote for him, but not voting against Trump based on a set of fruitcake fears is not sound.

To be honest, combat veteran Tammy Duckworth calling Trump Cadet Bone Spurs wins the contest. Not that she needs to worry about boone spurs in her feet anymore.

As for paying for the wall, why yes, it is easy for people to see what Trump has said, over and over again -

Have you looked at what has happened to the illegal immigrant figures lately?

I'd say she and Bernie are tied for worst. Free college will also just end up turning universities into high school 2.0. Whereas American colleges are envied worldwide, our high schools are mocked as 2nd rate. With no financial "skin in the game" a lot of people are going to go waste 3 or 4 years of their young adult life in college because everything in our culture tells them they must go do it.

The PISA data seem to indicate that US high schools more or less perform along with the highest European countries for the White demographic, which is most comparable, and certainly massively outperform Hispanic countries for Hispanic demographic. (No, they don't much outperform Western Europeans adjusted for demographics, but very comparable).

The other demographics are harder to compare - African descent countries are *very* poor, and Asians are from a selection of diverse countries from which they are mostly selected for high skill and high ambition, so comparing them to a general subset of Asian countries is tough. That said, Asian Americans do outperform Japan and South Korea by a comfortable margin (though less well against the weird authoritarian countries in East Asia who may be doing strange stuff with their scores - Singapore and China).

So making the argument that US high schools are derided internationally is a kind of poor way to argue against mandatory higher ed, because that derision is probably unfair and wrong and a false perception. (Which is not to say mandatory higher ed is right, but low quality of US high schools is a pretty bad argument against it!).

Three different models connecting PISA Reading ("Natives") to educational spend per capita:

(though this is not quite the same as per child, given different demographic trends. But the difference should not be greater).

US seems about where it ought to be for demographic apples to apples comparisons. Significant relationship for the first $1500 per capita, lower relationship for the next $1500 per capita, no relationship thereafter.

News flash: providing 18-year-olds with government-backed loans that offer exactly the same package regardless of a student's future potential to pay them back already provides little incentive to consider alternatives to college.

Which, of course, is exactly the point.

It's not a coincidence that Democrats want to lure as many young minds as possible into the most reliably leftist institutions in our society, on the taxpayer's dime, of course.

We subsidize the people who undermine us.

I see. Education is your enemy. Then, you really have a problem. Do you want a safe space?

Indoctrination is an enemy. We don't need a safe space. We are fighting the war right now.

> Free college will also just end up turning universities into high school 2.0.

I believe that for many/most college students, college *is* high school 2.0. Necessary for a job, but not providing much in the way of job-related skills. All you need is the diploma, or no-one will even look at you.

Except high school 2.0 is unobtainable for the poor and leaves a massive debt for the rest.

The entire system is sustained by the fact that companies save a few bucks in hiring by requiring a diploma as a first pass filter. Sadly it costs the rest of the economy unimaginable amounts...

The whole reason for Warren's campaign in the first place was to push the envelope wayyyyyyyy to the left on the basis of this nutty idea that if the Dems had gone farther left they would have beat Trump. That was never true, but it's even less true now. Although Trump himself is reviled, his policies - especially the confrontation with China - have been at least moderately effective and even popular, making many of Obama's policy look naïve and foolish. So I don't think Warren's going anywhere, especially now that her cards are on the table.

These are all policies that can be reversed. Suppose she’s able to institute 20% of the pro-democratic reforms detailed by the linked Klein endorsement. I think it’s probable that this would outweigh all of the damage described here.

On the contrary. Entitlement programs are politically impossible to reverse, for all practical purposes.

Forgiving debt, breaking up industries can be reversed?

Both Sanders and Warren would have to slash military spending in a big way in order to fund their priorities. Is that number 10?

It would foment global instability and opportunistic power-abhors-a-vacuum adventurism. More Crimeas in the long run, and perhaps a Korea shock.

I know my country is planning to raise hell as soon as the US only has the power to destroy us 10 times over.

The fact that "private equity" was listed as #2 and "big tech" even made it onto this list shows the priorities of our professional experts class.

One of the more basic copyediting rules: Never assume your reader has read the headline, title or subhead.

I think our clickbait age has reversed that rule. Many times, the headline is all they read.

If you're gonna do free college, you probably should provide at least an equal financial benefit to non-college attenders or yes, big cash largely for the American upper middle class, extending income inequality (which folk like Warren pretend to care about).

On free college, if college is mandatory for decent jobs and there's no intelligence filter, only an ambition filter, then I'd disagree, it's not that bad and certainly better than making life outcomes a crap shoot where you get very different outcomes for identical individuals who decide to go vs not go. Better than student debt release aka retroactive free college, at best a bailout for those who made at the expense of those that did not. Maybe I'm a Kaplanian on this question; free college destroys a dysfunctional signal, though there are perhaps cheaper, better ways to do it.

I don't think free college destroys the signal; it props it up. It makes a four year waste of time mandatory for even more people who don't need it. And it makes lacking a four year degree even more a signal of failure than it is now, since there is no excuse for anyone not to go to college if it is free.

We are already mandating that kids spend >15,000 hours in school, which is an enormous opportunity cost, and often there is not enough return to justify it. Making four more years of education quasi-standard is a horrible idea. We should be angrier about how many years of people's lives are being wasted due to well-intentioned, but harmful, policies.

Why is college expense not dischargeable in bankruptcy ? It would seem that to change that would bring more thinking into the decision to borrow. If the situation after college becomes untenable than bankruptcy can create a new beginning rather than the debtors prison of continuing student loan debt.

Because the return on taking bankruptcy after getting educated is obnoxiously high. The typical medical student is something north of $200,000. If they discharge in bankruptcy they retain the high income from sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into credentialing/learning. Even better from lenders' points of view if a physician declares bankruptcy during residency they are barred for discharging debts again for a few years. So now you have a bunch of high income individuals who can borrow at worst at a small penalty rate.

The benefits from discharge will flow many to high income professions with outsized schooling costs.

In the long run, lenders, absent government intervention, would then start charging ever higher rates until either no one takes a free bankruptcy after college or no one can borrow for college.

The real winning move, methinks, is to require universities to pay back the feds (e.g. Sallie Mae) when students enter default. The university can then try to recoup the principle from the students' earnings, but a useless university should not be getting the first tranche of payments.

By that logic, we shouldn't allow bankruptcy (or limited liability) for other large, unsecured loans either -- like, say, business bond issues. It's not like business executives don't occasionally fleece bondholders and even other creditors.

Yes, a few people -- even including a few well-off people -- will unfairly walk away from their debts. I consider that a small price to pay for a fresh start for lots of people -- including many not-so-well-off -- who misjudged the job market, their own abilities, etc and would be saddled with the debt for life otherwise.

That said, there's some moving parts in bankruptcy. Do we make all student loans bankruptable, or only future student loans? Do we allow Chapter 7 for student loan discharges, or only Chapter 13? Do we discharge all otherwise qualifying student loans, or only those signed (or due) at least a given number of years prior to filing bankruptcy (aka a waiting period)? Etc.

America has a long tradition of free public universities in states like Texas or California, something that Tyler seems to be skipping over. Possibly because the one part of the U.S. notably lacking that tradition is the Northeast.

A long-extinct tradition? A community college tradition?

"Warren is a genius at exciting the egalitarian and anti-business mood affiliation of our coastal media and academic elites."

So, it sounds like you understand her appeal after all...

6-7) Demand subsidies for higher ed is not incident exclusively on the students in question. Those subsidies also accrue to higher ed *providers*, especially faculty of those liberal arts departments issuing degrees that are not particularly economically valuable. That also happens to be Warren's base.

It's actually somewhat surprising that more industries haven't adopted higher ed's methods for lobbying for subsidies: ask for subsidies for one's customers in service of "affordability" to hide the fact that one is actually asking for subsidies for oneself. For example, Apple: "Everyone should have 'access' to a smartphone, regardless of financial status. Congress should guarantee loans for smartphone purchases and forgive any outstanding debt after 2 years so that people will be able to upgrade." Auto Industry and Big Oil: "It's unfair that the poor cannot afford to commute like the wealthy can. We should have govt-guaranteed car loans and free gasoline for all."

Also, interestingly, progressives do not seem to emphasize price controls as a means for making higher ed more affordable, even though they do so for drug prices and, nowadays, have even returned to calling for rent control. That also suggests that the actual constituency for higher ed proposals may be higher ed providers as much as students.

But progressives DO emphasize price controls as a means for making higher ed more affordable. At least that's the case here in Canada.

Ezra Klein: "[Warren] understands how to...wield the powers of the regulatory state better than anyone else...because it’s core to her political project."

The rest of the article goes on to explain that Warren will get around the political and constitutional constraints on the Presidency by wielding the powers of the regulatory state to implement policies that would otherwise lack sufficient political support because, by Klein's own admission, "Presidents are rarely able to dramatically change public opinion." This is supposed to be the pro-Warren case.

Admittedly, that does seem to reflect the sensibilities of her base: (mostly) white, affluent, educated progressives that believe that the greatest obstacles to progress are constraints and limits on the power of affluent, educated progressives.

Warren is an example of the libertarian-authoritarian axis. What? No, she is neither libertarian nor authoritarian, she is a former libertarian (a long-time registered Republican who as a lawyer represented business) who saw the light and went over to the other side. Once an extremist, always an extremist. Me? I believe in moderation, whether the subject is eating or economic policy. Don't trust an extremist because she might just flip from one extreme to the other. [BC makes that point, although I suspect not intentionally.]

For those unaware of Warren's history, she was heavily influenced by the law and economics movement; indeed, that's why she was hired by UT-Austin, Penn, and Harvard. It was in the mid-1990s and later while researching bankruptcy law that she had a revelation (that most people filing for bankruptcy were not either working the system or had been irresponsible in incurring debts) that challenged her fundamental beliefs as "worse than disillusionment". I admire those who can change their minds on an issue when the data supports a different view, but this conversion by Warren is on an entirely different level.

Sounds almost like she discovered that the law and economics movement was a cynical sham.

One assumes she did not fall to the ground after receiving her revelation that the Federalist Society and friends had no interest in any principles that did not serve their own interest.

The fact that instead of acting like most people in the law and economics movement who are aware of what that movement is about she actually turned against it means she has, at least in the tiniest measure, the potential to be like Roosevelt, who is essentially universally reviled generations later by a certain segment of American society as a class traitor.

On the other hand, Spitzer seems to have worried that class a lot more than Warren.

While I am skeptical of whether Warren could ever get anything like Medicare for all, or the fracking proposal adopted, I gained a little more respect for her than I had (and, given the choices out there, I am not a Warren supporter but thinks Trump is crazy and dangerous) after reading a law and econ book that applies behavioral economic analysis to consumer protection. The book, SEDUCTION BY CONTRACT: LAW, ECONOMICS AND PSYCHOLOGY IN CONSUMER MARKETS (Oxford University Press, 2012) analyses tactics used in the credit card, mortgage lending, cable and other industries to dupe consumers. So, I am reading this book, and notice that several of the footnoted articles are by Warren. This person understands BE and consumer psych, and does empirical work very well; I say this after reading some of her law and econ articles.

That said, I think she did a swing to the left to co=opt Bernie voters, as the median voter had been captured by Biden. So, will she be more practical if elected? Will she be closer to her writing and earlier views?

One thing is clear though: she will bring a number of academics into her administration just as Kennedy did.

Go out and read some of her work before you make a judgment. If you like the mix between law, econ, and psych, you will enjoy it.

And, I definitely recommend Harvard law (and econ) Prof. Oren Bar-Gill's work and book.

The book, Seduction by Contract, is by economist Prof in Law Oren Bar-Gill at Harvard Law School.

By the way, as a thought experiment,


How Trump will behave,

If he were re-elected,

Knowing that this was his last term and would not face re-election.

Wheels off the car.

So more rule by the best and brightest. Vietnam 2: Iranian Boogaloo perhaps?

At least the Veterans will get their GI Bill taken away. After all, college is free now.

We can replace the VA with free Pow Wow Chow cookbooks for all and free DNA tests from Warren’s ex husband’s company.


You must hope must hope you are speaking to an uniformed audience of your peers.

All of those who want to respond to Skeptical about Warren's VA position, you can go here:

and report back what you find so you can humiliate Skeptical and discourage him from propagating misinformation.

There’s literally nothing in there except cracking down on for profit schools and making public universities free.

Of course why have the GI bill if public schools are free? Why VA if M4A?

Pow Wow Chow cookbooks for all! She can finally divulge her Cherokee family’s secret ancient recipe for canned crab dip. That she plagiarized word for word.

If someone reads the link I gave all of your pow wow chow fake statements melt into water and you will be responsible for someone discovering the falsity of your statements.

Here is the link again:

I will keep posting links when you again make false statements attributable to the position of a candidate.

What's the weather in St. Petersburg?

The real irony is that you didn’t bother to read your own link.

She brags about the CFPB, promises Purple Heart recipients the GI Bill (they’re already fully eligible) and then promises free college tuition and healthcare to every illegal immigrant. Huh?

Absurdity. I guess her supporters are right up there in honesty with the first (self professed) minority law professor at Harvard.

Not too versed in veterans issues are we Counselor? Cherokee Crab dip looks delicious though!

Skeptical is a misinformation specialist. I won't even bother to address his lies.

He counts on you not reading for yourself.

Read for yourself. Here is the link again:

Skeptical must be a Warren supporter because he is making me point to what she actually says.

By the way, I currently don't support Warren, as the race is still open, but I do support truth.

Warren is a smart person with some good ideas. I think she is well suited as a legislator, where her more poorly thought out ideas will be checked by others.

She does not have a good grasp of the big picture, how everything has to work together to make a prosperous society. She thinks you can lead through division and demonizing her opponents. That will make for a bad president.

Trump seems to made division and demonization of opponents into an art form.

Warren is a rank amateur in comparison.

Can I get a Lock her up! Lock her up! from the congregation?

Do we want a person who follows the same campaign tactics as Trump? Is that the measure of a President?

It seems to be exactly that

“She has the worst proposed economic policies of any candidate in the adult lifetime of Tyler Cowen.”

Just wait until AOC and Don Jr. run! Things can always be worse!

This may all be true about Warren, but no fucking way I will ever vote for Trump.

Plus, Warren is promising all of us a signed copy of her cookbook, Pow Wow Chow.

And Mexico will pay for it !

The fact that a significant number of Americans can take the candidacy of Elizabeth Warren for any higher office is an indictment of the US educational system itself. The fact that she is not ridiculed by the general media shows why that business is headed to a genuine restructuring if not extinction.

How about the fact that she predicted the financial crisis in 2007? Not as a talking head on Fox or CNN, but in a guest lecture.

That's a great idea! Congratulations. Rather than have debates. the potential candidates for POTUS could, four years ahead of the election, predict the future. After those years have elapsed, the most accurate prognosticator, arrived at through some simple point system, would automatically be his/hers party's candidate. A big improvement over the present fiasco.

Less money for Peter Thiel is not a good enough objection, sorry.

Plus she’s going to teach us how to make her Cherokee ancestral food, Canned Crab Dip with Mayo.

Free Warren signed Pow Wow Chow cookbooks for every American, and every undocumented migrant!

And free DNA testing to confirm Indian heritage, from her ex-husband’s DNA testing firm.

Six plans too many. She can run on three but only implement one.
I think those are the rules.

Absolutely. College will not be free for all. There is no health plan. And the goose that lays the golden eggs will not be breaded and fried. But taxes will go up. That will pay for the farm bill and the Mid-West swing states, as well as a lot of other things for Pennsylvania instead of seismic gas exploration.

Regarding College Free for All, outside of the very elite, very well endowed colleges, her plan of free public colleges would destroy the private college and university sector. Currently low-prestige, inexpensive community colleges are essentially free for low income students after federal aid, but if all public colleges and universities become free for all students, that will be a body blow to the entire sector.

I think Warren has little chance of winning. What appears to be happening is that Biden and Sanders are the only two candidates with substantial hard support, while most of the electorate isn’t crazy about either option and is sloshing around for an alternative but will ultimately settle on one of the above two. You saw the a similar though more extreme dynamic with the Republican primary in 2016 where various candidates like Ben Carson would surge then fall back quickly, and at the end of the day Trump (who had stable polling all along) prevailed and his main challenger was Ted Cruz who also had relatively stable polling. I’d say Biden has a 50% chance to win, Sanders 33%, and everyone else combined 17% (and yes I have put money on Biden on PredictIt). Which is a shame, because I quite like some of the second tier Democratic candidates like Steyer and Yang, who both seem like honest and humane people who actually built businesses without massive family inheritances yet live modestly and share their success with the less successful.

Two-party politics in the information age is a joke. The list of the three Democratic contenders' meaningful life accomplishments could be written on a cigarette paper with a felt pen. Would any sane person want to be confined in a small room with one of them for an entire day? If this passes for the process of selecting the leadership of 330 million people a cosmic prank is being played.

...why would anyone sane or competent or both want to be a part of this circus?

On point #6: The federal government holds 92% of all student debt and it originates an even greater proportion. The impact of debt forgiveness on bank behavior is therefore quite irrelevant. Since Warren would make much college free, I wonder if she'd also keep the debt spigot open for those who still choose to go to private colleges, or use tuition to steer them to public ones.

I don't think that W's failure is about the Economics so much as how these ideas conflict with healthy ambitiousness and individualistic development within a person. They are stifling, leading to tribalism and sheep-like tendencies. People that like these policies probably got Bs and Cs in high school, adored the concept of just being around other students, and never joined any clubs or groups except those packs that existed primarily to counter bullying. The best way to defeat Ayn Rand-type elitist characters is to develop those skill sets to individualize yourself, move jobs regularly, avoid getting caught up in Steve Jobs/ Elon Musk-like fervors, and work for yourself or in the smallest team-company to produce that product/ service. If you look at most Unions, non-profit housing developments, and related 'egalitarian' models, these systems are filled with miserable people, bullies, under-the-radar activity, gangs, and a hopelessness that is so pervasive that not even the anti-government, anti-corporate, and whatever flavour-of-the-month hate-cause thrill-protest or brotherhood event could overcome. Some insider-polls indicate that over 30% of those in those massive French protests would rather be working but fear violence from their fellow workers.

At this point I don't have a good mental model for Elizabeth Warren. Until she ran this primary strategy I perceived her as pretty moderate, loving capitalism but interested in curbing its excesses, etc. So her running so hard left seems unnatural, like someone has convinced her that it's Sanders' party now, and this is the only way to compete. Either that or she always had a much broader view of "capitalism's excesses" than I did. It's weird.

Also weird that she would destroy my old apology "don't worry, anything she says that sounds too leftist isn't going to make it through Congress." This executive order stuff does only make her more scary to anyone center and right.

So what is she doing? I think the most plausible explanation is that she does see it as Sanders' race.

Let's hope not.

Maybe I could tie this to what I hear as the left wing objection to Joe Biden. That is "how can you pretend a return to normalcy when normalcy is impossible!"

For instance, "if Senate Republicans do take the impeachment stance that 'yeah, he did it and we don't care' how can you possibly think you will work with them?"

If Republicans have already gone nuclear, the far left might argue, then Presidential nuclear war by executive order is the logical response.

I'd say it's still not too late to enforce norms, and maintain constitutional democracy

Write your Senator.

Ah. So noted Pow Wow Chow contributor Elizabeth Warren ran on hard authoritarian leftism because of Trump something something.

Interesting take.

Well it is hard to argue the converse, the Trump has been a great champion of the Constitution, and legislative action, and it is all Elizabeth Warren's invention that Executive Orders should override Congressional intention.

Shorter anonymous:

“We have a bad President because he ignores the law and issues unconstitutional Executive Orders.

Now we should support a candidate who is even more extreme in breaking the law and issuing unconstitutional Executive Orders.”

Uh. Okay. Or just write in Johnson.

I didn't make any of those arguments.

I think, in November, we should decide who is:

1) most ethical in personal dealings

2) most dedicated to service in our constitutional democracy

3) most amenable to our political philosophy

Because 1 and 2 can't be forgotten as a foundation.

It's not complicated. Pick your old ass boomer poison.

“ Maybe she would eliminate the worst features of her plan, but can you imagine her saying on open camera that private equity is mostly good for the American economy?”

Your co-blogger would say this is too much transparency and Ms Warren needs to continue to lie to her voters by telling them what they want to hear while disavowing her public statements in private to the power brokers of the country.

She didn't even need to lie. She just needed to be less specific. Sanders is left of her, but doesn't attract this kind of attention, because he doesn't give specifics for critics to latch onto.

So Trumps lying would be better in your world if he was less specific about it? And you still champion democracy?

A lack of specificity is not a lie.

"I want everyone to get healthcare" may not be a lie at all, but neither is it the kind of plan economists can really critique.

But that’s not what happened.

Sanders is what he is, but he’s honest.

When asked whether M4A would necessitate a tax on the middle class, he said yes.

The issue wasn’t Warren’s specificity, its that she’s a compulsive liar, not unlike our current President. When asked she vowed that it would not involve a middle class tax hike and then released a nonsensical plan with tens of trillions of missing tax money.

That's a weird complaint. Warren made a comment, and then worked up a definite plan.

You call here a "liar" because her specifics don't match her freehand comments.

That's not what a liar does.

She lied. You know this. She’s always lied. She’s as much an Indian as Trump is a self made man.

Tens of Trillions in new spending and no new taxes is her version of “and Mexico will pay for it!”

If you’re not a complete partisan hack we can both have a good laugh and call a spade a spade.

Trump and Warren are both compulsive liars and in a better world neither one would come within a mile of the Presidency.

Waiting for the goal shifting and partisan dodge in 5...4...3

That was kind of uncontrolled. Button it up if you want to be taken seriously.

I mean, of the two of us why are *you* panicking this week?

Especially since *you* maintain that it doesn't matter who is president?

So Warren, who cares? According to you.

I know a lot of you try to avoid the news, but reports this week are that Alan Dershowitz will stand in the Senate and say "abuse of power and obstruction of justice are fine, they are not why the founders created impeachment."

Step back and think about what that means for future presidents.

It might make executive orders on fracking a little trivial.

Restore the norms: punish the guilty. This election should be about ethics not economics.


Eh, I think if the Warren and the rest wanted to make it an "ethics" election, then proposing a set of un-scrutinized, divisive and far reaching economic changes and then abdicating the idea that they should even defend these on economic grounds is about the worst way of doing so that they could.

Be honest though, consider 4 years or so of this "Trump Resistance" stuff by the Democrats.

It seems to have achieved remarkably little compared to if we imagine they had simply had had good electoral discipline, a laser tight focus on healthcare and simplifying costs through universality of access and pricing* without getting tarred with socialism, and then credibly reassured people that they were *not* part of some open borders plot to remake society in a new image by "electing a new people" and that they were solidly anti-war.

But perhaps this is a problem of the US presidential system - separating presidentiality from party leadership while giving it far ranging powers and making it essential to legislative process, it becomes very difficult for any challenger to arise with a coherent and stress tested program for government that has been held to account in the public sphere (as until they get the nom, they're just some talking head).

More so when the US is in an anti-establishment mood (as it must be when the establishment seem like a shower of post-nationalist sellouts)- an insider might have been able to come up with a coherent policy program, but not lots of these putative outsiders.

*universality of pricing and access would probably simplify a lot of the rubbish where US costs are covered by large numbers of nominal bills, relatively few of which are actually paid at full cost, generating frightening nominally high bills which are arbitrarily enforced.

I think it is a mistake to use Warren as a placeholder for "the rest." If Biden wins the nomination that will be an indication that she, at a minimum, miscalculated.

Now, as far as success of the opposition.

When half of adults support *removal* you aren't exactly flying high. That's simply unprecedented.

Half of the opposition would support removal on virtually any pretext (or no clear pretext), even if they spent the vast majority of their energies on clear policy ideas .

M, I agree about the ethics of accurately presenting one's policy plans but what I'm talking about is brazen corruption and probable treason.
In order to restore norms, we need to make it clear that the ends do not justify the means, and that means rolling back many of the abuses of the past three years, simply on the grounds that they were accomplished illegitimately. Only a punitive defeat will give the GOP what it needs to clean up its act.

You don't seem very related.

That was supposed to be "very relaxed."

Pardon me, for I'm not an economist; but who cares whether fracking is bad for the economy? The second world war was good for the economy. But some 80 million people lost their lives. Should we regard war as good, then?

If you were an economist, you would know that the second world war was terrible for the economy. We would have achieved the same result if we piled 4 years worth of manufacturing output and 200,000 young men in a hole and blew them up with Fat Man.

Full employment and massive industrial production aren't worth very if none of the resulting wealth is available for consumption.

Question on the side comment about Caplan: since the Caplanian view of higher education implies that it has negative externalities (the more people with a credential, the less effective the signaling power of that credential), isn’t the policy implication that universities should not be subsidized? (if anything, they should be taxed?)

“Yes I support [Warren], but she has the worst proposed economic policies of any candidate in the adult lifetime of Tyler Cowen.” 🤷💸🌲>👨‍🦳👶👴

“Yes I support Bernie, but only because he wrote the damn bill to make money fly off of the money tree.” 👴💸🌲>🤷👨‍🦳👶

“Yes I support Biden, but he's far too old to be President.” 👨‍🦳>🤷💸🌲👴👶

“Yes I support 'Mayor Pete', but he's far too inexperienced to be President.” 👶>🤷💸🌲👴👨‍🦳

Worst in your lifetime? Perhaps you're not aware but there is a currently active and campaigning politician whose economic policies are (a) get me money and (b) weaken the institutions that sustain a functioning free market economy. Said candidate's political positions are highlighted by (a) screw the constitution and (b) lock up brown kids in cages to reduce immigration.

Just as a thought experiment, let's take each of Tyler's points of difference. I have not researched details of her proposals, but just want to point out some issues that are addressed.

1. Fracking. Did you know that Dick Cheney convened a "Commission" to have the EPA drop safe water requirements for fracking? As a result, the EPA does not regulate the injection of fracking fluids that can reach the water supply. Good work, Haliburton! "Before taking office, Cheney was CEO of Halliburton — which patented hydraulic fracturing in the 1940s, and remains one of the three largest manufacturers of fracturing fluids. Halliburton staff were actively involved in review of the 2004 EPA report on hydraulic fracturing."

If Dick Cheney does it=Good
If Warren does it=Bad

2. Private equity plan. Is your marginal tax rate 15%, if not, become a private equity guy, or, maybe sometimes, gal. By the way, you can be for private equity but not for the tax breaks.

3. Farm Plan. So, you like it that there is no income limit for a family farmer, that if the Koch Brothers own a farm and break it up into parnterships with relatives they get the support that should be limited to low income farmers.

4. Tax plan. You pay a wealth tax on your house. It is easy to avoid inheritance taxes and you ever heard of stepped up basis. Apparently not.

5. Student debt. I think there should be income limits, but this would be avoidable if we expanded Pell Grants, while also recognizing we have gifted those who can save with a benefit of 529 plans, so we should look at the parents who did not have enough to save but whose children had to take out higher loans than wealthy or even moderately wealthy parent's kids did.

6. Breaking up big tech. That's an hyperbole description to having some of the tech firms spin off firms that they acquired that later proved they could have been their closest competitors. As for the economies of bust up, remember Ma Bell? Did the world fall apart when that happened, or did we get more competition.

And, then, there is you think Medicare for all would pass? Or, would it be used to expand Obamacare or offer a public option?

Fracking is regulated at the state level so that regulation had very little impact. In fact Tillerson is a famous Bush loyalist and he never believed fracking would be economically viable. I don’t think Bush ever even said the word “fracking” as president and he was pushing cellulosic ethanol and LNG imports as solutions for our quiet energy crisis.


Why exempt it from Federal Safe Water standards and regulation? States, more than federal, are sometimes more subject to regulatory capture by certain major industries.

Most of the negative fracking information has been proved false. In fact much of it came from RT America which The NY Times characterizes as an outlet for Russian disinformation. So the notion fracking is more harmful to the environment than other types energy production has no basis in fact.

Link please for the assertion that "most" of the negative fracking information has been proven false.


This is from an 2016 EPA report:

"EPA found scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing activities can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances. The report identifies certain conditions under which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities can be more frequent or severe:

Water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing in times or areas of low water availability, particularly in areas with limited or declining groundwater resources;
Spills during the handling of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals or produced water that result in large volumes or high concentrations of chemicals reaching groundwater resources;
Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into wells with inadequate mechanical integrity, allowing gases or liquids to move to groundwater resources;
Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources;
Discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water; and
Disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in unlined pits resulting in contamination of groundwater resources."

Here is the link:


“Can” under “some” circumstances. Lol.

You don't have a link, I guess, for the support of your assertions.

Under "some" circumstances people suffer injuries from falls and car accidents.


All you have to know is that a major fracking region is 25 miles from one of the most important aquifers in the country. San Antonio is one of the fastest growing cities in America and its water supply is safe to drink. Trump supporter Ron DeSantis just bought up some land to keep traditional oil drillers out of the Everglades while Julian Castro never bought up land to keep frackers away from the Edwards Aquifer.

Are you saying that cities should pay frackers not to frack in order to protect their water supply?

But, on the principal of revealed preference, what you are saying is that someone is willing to put money where there mouth is on the belief in the risks to the water supply.


And, you still haven't posted supporting links for your statements above.

Trump supporter Ron DeSantis bought land to prevent traditional oil drilling in the Everglades. Apparently you think Obama was looking for a HUD Secretary and it came down to Castro and the Flint mayor and Obama picked Castro because the Edward’s Aquifer was not as toxic as Flint’s water supply!?! Lol.

Still no links to support your initial assertion re fracking and water.


Time to call it quits. You had time, so you failed to support your assertions with facts.


Swing and a miss there Bill.

1. Cheney has been gone for 12 years. If you support Warren banning fracking, say so. But this is a red herring.

2. If you support eliminating the PE industry, say so. This has nothing to do with marginal tax rates. Her plan is to eliminate the concept of limited liability. Try again dude.

3. The response of something stupid is to triple down on it? Warren 2020, take a Trumpian rent seeking scheme you hate, and I’ll triple it!

4. Find me the federal property tax? You’re confusing federal and state. Also completely ignores whether > 100% marginal tax rates as proposed by Warren are a remotely good idea. Hint: they’re not

5. Okay, but that’s not the proposal. The proposal is using tax on the general population to give away tens of thousands to professionals with graduate degrees. It’s incredibly regressive. Deal with it.

6. Umm no that’s not her plan. She wants to prevent Amazon from selling anything they own, and Apple from developing apps for their own IOS. Not a tech lawyer eh ?


Your weak responses make me look good.

Thank you.

I read and followed up on all of the points that you make here with an open mind, and I'm not sure how you conclude 'worst candidate of your lifetime' -- definitely more of an ideological grievance than a serious analysis. In my humble opinion, during your lifetime, our country has descended into market fundamentalism and brought out the worst of capitalism, and most of her policies, not all, are much-needed reforms. You may analyze the negative marginal effects of her policies, but do not account for the cumulative marginal deterioration of sound public policy over the past 40 years. But I dutifully and grudgingly take note of your opinion.

"descended into market fundamentalism"

The economy today is the most regulated in history. Regulatory controls on industry fill the pages of hundreds of dense books and cost us trillions of dollars a year- real income that we could otherwise have,

Overregulation will not result in a substantial increase in real income, nor is it costing the economy trillions of dollars. The costs and benefits of regulation are difficult to quantify, and these numbers mentioned above are tied to industry-funded centers and scholars for hire. The US is less regulated compared to most countries.

It is well documented that the 1970s and 1980s brought an era of deregulation and lowering of tax rates. Deregulation can be tied to the financial crisis and climate change.

But sure, regulatory reform is generally a good goal and there is bipartisan support to cut regulations that encourage rent-seeking and result in negative, unintended outcomes. Warren has a solid understanding of markets, and I'd argue warren is very capable of reforming regulations for public benefit.

Ah yes, the old "How are we going to pay for it" analysis by those strangely quiet when the US gives another a couple billion to Israel yearly and gleefully sign up for more indefinite, net negative benefit in any sense and actual trillion dollar Middle East wars for questionable "allies" which harm the intangible soft power of the US and its people and corporations for free loading client states (though who is the client of whom) compared to actual fighting NATO allies.

Funny how Israel manages universal healthcare though.

And I'm not some Warren defender either, she's a Judas considering what she did to Sanders. At least she's brave enough to call the A-stan war what it is.

"make our energy supply less green." This is not necessarily true. Further, if by this statement you mean to suggest that natural gas is green relative to coal, that's not a high standard for "green." And even that claim would require conditions that, it seems, aren't being met. Good luck.

It is not controversial that natural gas is greener than coal

Thank you for your response to my final point. You're certainly right that conventional wisdom says natural gas operations produce greenhouse gas emissions, but that those emissions produce less warming than coal. If methane is leaked during production, however, the "savings" can be lost. I'll leave it to you to double check the exact numbers, but I believe it's around 3% leakage. Sorry, but I can't give you more details off the top of my head.

Unintentionally hilarious:

> she has the worst economic and political policies of any candidate in my adult lifetime....

But no, Tyler is not going to try to dissuade you from voting for her, because

> you might wish to see a woman president.

There you go! She's hoping to completely trash the economy, more so than anyone in the last 40 years, but hey, she used to menstruate so if that's more important to you, no problem!

Also, if she's the nominee, you know Tyler is pulling the lever for this Fake Indian, so this is all really quite pointless.

Woman president is borderline grammatically incorrect. The proper terminology is "female president." Would the author of this blog posting say something like "men and women candidates?"

Man president did bad things. We should support woman candidate. Can woman candidate defeat her men rivals among the Democrats? Will women voters hold the balance of power?

My point, exactly.

" She wants to ban fracking through executive order. "

This is a bad idea but not because it would help Russia or Saudi Arabia and deprive Americans of profits. The simple fact is that the American shale miracle is a fraud that has destroyed hundreds of billions in capital. Shale production makes sense but only in the small core areas where returns are great. But the Fed's liquidity injections helped to create a bubble by financing growing production that was not profitable. I expect the shale sector to go through a run of bankruptcies at the first sign the financing is about to get tighter. That said, it is not the place of a president to use executive orders to meddle in the economy.

QE was successful because it inflated the fracking for oil “bubble”. Fracking for natural gas was proven economical before QE started in 2009 and fracking for natural gas was all that was necessary to solve the quiet energy crisis that undermined the American economy from 2001-2008. If fracking for oil was the product of a negative bubble that could undermine the American economy it would have happened in 2016. Instead frackers cut costs and proved it could be viable at lower oil prices. In 2020 we are now in the clear and as fracking moves to the Permian Basin costs can be cut even more.

You don't get to pick and choose. A state powerful enough to have the "capabilities" to achieve various technocratic goals also has the capability of allowing someone like Warren to wreak havock with popular sounding policy.

Will Wilkinson responds here:
And Cowen himself has a reply if you scroll down.

Wilkinson says:

> I think America's basic structure is broken. Warren's general diagnosis of the problem--it's a rigged system of anticompetitive rent-seeking enabled by insufficiently democratic and representative political institutions--is broadly similar to my own.

And that sure, Tyler Cowen's 9 points on how outrageously horrible Warren's policies are basically true, but Warren is still worth supporting, given her understanding of America's basic structural problems. Cowen's reply to this is asking about an emoji; one that represents strongly disapproving of Warren's policies but supporting her anyway.

I will personally take rational, sane sounding policy, over whatever Cowen and Wilkinson advocate.

Will Wilkinson, funnily enough, ascribes something that sounds very close to "State Capacity Libertarianism" as motivating his praise of Warren in both that twitter thread and here:

This is why people are rightfully skeptical of state capacity libertarianism, it is simply far too malleable to personal whim to stand for something politically meaningful and distinct.

Arnold Kling has a good rule of thumb for evaluating political philosophies, I think roughly "If you can't easily think of a policy idea within the current Overton Window that is wholly rejected by the ideology, it is overbroad." I am really struggling here, since contextually, it seems any proposal could be construed in a way to be acceptable.

Basically, every Western political ideology with a pragmatic streak sounds very similar: "only enough organization and power in government to accomplish my personal ideas of national priorities so as to leave personal freedom intact as much as possible—but also providing the minimum additional conveniences as a practical compromise with the broader public to enervate the calls for more government power beyond that sweet spot."

Of course, this is only looking at state capacity libertarianism at face value. Because of how state capacity libertarianism is framed and motivated, I imagine its version of a brain trust would over time forfeit any potential confusing diversity and settle into a redundant Niskanen-Center-type. Cthulhu swims left generally, and I doubt this would be a good candidate for an exception to O'Sullivan's/Conquest's Second Law.

Bernie to Warren: Hold my beer.

"We need national rent control."

I'm baffled by this mindset: Cowen judges Warren's policy proposals as outrageously bad, yet supports her candidacy. And the reverse with Trump: Trump's has basically pursued intelligent policies on almost every front with some arguable exceptions on trade and immigration, yet Cowen supports Trump's impeachment and removal from office.

The more normal, sane mindset: Pundits support politicians who advance the policies they endorse and oppose politicians who advance bad policy. Cowen is doing the opposite, and I find that genuinely confusing.

Perhaps Tyler should invite her to have a Conversation.

Leveraged buyouts by private equity are a scourge and a source of moral hazard. Basically, Private Equity Firm borrows a zillion dollars to buy a company, and the debt ends up on the company's books, not those of Private Equity Firm. This new debt is a pure deadweight loss to the company, and if it can't pay it back, the company gets liquidated, its employees lose their jobs, the lenders don't get their money back, and Private Equity Firm is just fine. See the problem here? Warren says that debt should be the responsibility of Private Equity Firm instead - and if people have organized their private equity firms so that they're personally responsible for the debts of Private Equity Firm instead of as limited liability corporations, isn't that their problem?

TC's take on Warren's proposals on private equity is quite biased.

You only have to read the first few paragraphs of his link to see that.

He ignores the various problems PE firms often create to focus on possibly dubious claims of their returns. And of course returns are far from the whole story.

I haven't followed up on the rest, but this is enough to cause me to view the post with great skepticism.

It's a good thing Warren plans on expanding the safety net because if her business policies are enacted, we'll need a much bigger welfare system.

The fact that you are so uniformly opposed to her economic plan is what has finally convinced me to vote for her in the primaries. So, thanks for that. If the torch bearer for the libertarians is this opposed to her; she can't be all bad.

Does the N. Y. T. editorial board not consult Tyler's MR posts, or does the paper's endorsement of Warren's candidacy respond to or counter any of Tyler's specific points?

These days, how much "market/subscriber signaling" is deemed part of any surviving newspaper's editorial page endorsement?

It seems to me that "free college for all" is essentially a concession that the Democrats, who control virtually every major city, have given up on public primary and secondary education as a means for shaping an economically useful and reasonably aware citizenry. This would seem like a profound admission of failure, but I am unaware of any journalist willing to write as much.

"1. She wants to ban fracking through executive order. This would enrich Russia and Saudi Arabia, harm the American economy ($3.5 trillion stock market gains from fracking), make our energy supply less green..."

This list doesn't address the legality of an Executive Order to ban fracking. I can't imagine what law authorizes a president to ban fracking. Why would Congress pass a law that would give a president the power to ban fracking?

On the contrary, I find Warren to have the best policies of any candidate I've seen in my lifetime.

1. Fracking is dreadful and you know it. You also know that it has to go if we are to transition to renewables. America's energy use will necessarily become more green in tandem with the phasing out of natural gas. What, do you think we'd be going back to coal?

2. Her tax plan would absolutely not result in a top marginal rate over 100%. The analysis from hilariously added up not just taxes on income, dividends, payroll taxes, and capital gains, but also corporate taxes (come on) and even, incredibly, the estate tax (Tyler -- is it a reasonable economical assumption that the average rich person has less than ten years left to live?). And even with all that fuckery, they only managed to get a tax rate of 94%. Not 94% per year, no no. Ninety-four percent after 10 years of chipping away at it with the wealth, capital gains, and estate taxes. Ten years later, that poor dead businesswoman only has $10 million dollars left to her name (assuming she shuttered her business and did absolutely nothing after that one successful year).

When wealth changes hands, as in from a business's coffers to its employees' paychecks, or a wealthy estate to its beneficiaries, you do not get to add up every tax along the way then claim that one person is being taxed that much.

3. Critiques of the wealth tax come down to basically two points: 1. It won't work, and 2. I don't want it to work. The first critique is easy. Warren goes out of her way to avoid the failures of previous wealth taxes, by massively funding the IRS and keeping the lowest marginal rate very, very, very high. Enforcement costs will be an order of magnitude lower than in other countries whose wealth taxes kicked in at $1-5 million.

The second critique is more philosophical but I like to refute it like this: it is unethical for individuals to have more wealth than they could possibly spend in a lifetime, so provided the benefits of redistributing that wealth to actively assist those who are struggling outweighs the destruction of passive wealth that comes with that redistribution, the wealth tax should be implemented. I believe Warren's policy satisfies that condition.

4. On student debt forgiveness, I'd rather the culture changes to put less emphasis on a college education such that it isn't necessary to get a well-paying job (I am a bit Caplanian on this issue). But changing culture is not easy, so I accept debt forgiveness as a form of relief to a deep, underlying structural problem. You can think of it as a tax cut for the middle class. You like tax cuts, don't you Tyler?

(amusing that Tyler decries student debt relief as benefiting the "relatively" well off at the expense of society's most needy, but rushes to the defense of billionaires who might only wind up multimillionaires by the end of their lives)

5. Please provide some sort of data which says that subsidizing college makes its quality worse and somehow kills prestige. (Hint: due to generous grants and other subsidies, most Harvard students pay no more than your average college student -- and Harvard retains its legendary status)

6. Single payer healthcare is a no-brainer, but basically anything would be better than the current system.

7. Tyler apparently sees no problem with huge tech monopolies/oligopolies? Come on, reach into your libertarian heart and see the lack of competition!

I don't have strong opinions yet on the other policies you discuss. But your track record is pretty lousy, if not wholly disingenuous so far. Please do better.

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