Obama's 3 Right-Wing Economists
by fairleft, Sun Feb 03, 2008 at 09:54:42 AM EST
To wake some of you up from your dreams, let's take a look at each of Obama's three chief economic advisors.
Obama's Right-Wing Economist Asshole #1: AUSTAN GOOLSBEE
Here's a start, some narrow right-wing economics from chief Barack Obama economic spokesman Austan Goolsbee, on trade (emphasis added throughout):
Austan Goolsbee (BARACK OBAMA): "I'm a University of Chicago economist and no one is ever going to be more in favor of open markets and free trade than an economist, so you would presume I'd be for anything that has the words 'free trade agreement' in it and all I'll tell you is this: I do believe there's no one more in favor of open markets than me . . ."
Spoken like a true DLC neoliberal 'all economists are Milton Friedmanites' asshole, right? Here's more Goolsbee news by way of ronkseattle, noting first that the top economic spokesman for and senior policy advisor to Obama is the DLC's Senior Economist.
June 19, 2006
Austan Goolsbee Joins DLC and PPI as Senior Economist
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) and the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) are pleased to announce that Austan Goolsbee, the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, has agreed to become Senior Economist to both organizations.
You hadn't heard that, had you? That's what a dog whistle is for. In distant corners of the political grid, they hear the pied piper's dog code loud and clear ... and they do come a-runnin'.
Read on as we crack the code. . . .
As one conservative Yale alum testifies:. . .voters who usually lean Republican should take a second look at Obama ... Although some of his centrist economic prescriptions may disenchant liberals who distrust the benefits of globalization, Goolsbee said economic data indicate that free trade leads to higher wages.. . .
George Will digs Goolsbee. What's not to like ... if you're George F. Will?
The liberal's liberal economist Paul Krugman? Not so much. Goolsbee is the unnamed advisor Krugman refers to when he tabs Obama's stimulus plan "disreputable". . . .
Enough about who Goolsbee is. What does Goolsbee think?
Goolsbee thinks single payer is a bad idea. He thinks Warren Buffett is just lucky. He thinks globalization is no biggie. He thinks subprime lending gimmicks made the market more perfect [see 'SUBPRIME OBAMA' below]. And he gives Dubya high marks on trade, taxes, job creation . . . but an "Incomplete" on Social Security. . . .
How do we regulate global corporate enterprise? Much as we regulate US corporations, i.e., not much. Strained through the academic economist's revealed preference for market outcomes, regulations are just a rats-nests of departures from the optimality of market outcomes. Outcome-directive levers of policy -- mandates, prohibitions and other regulations -- are bad. Incentives and public investments are good, as mitigations to market insecurities.
Here's a little more of George Will, on why he likes Goolsbee:
Is Goolsbee dismayed about widening income inequality? Yes, but with a nuanced understanding. The stagnation of middle- and working-class incomes, and the anxiety this has generated, is, he says, a most pressing problem, but policymakers must be mindful about trying to address its root cause, which Goolsbee says is "radically increased returns to skill."
Oh, that's why. It's not the destruction of labor unions, the mass in-migration of semi-skilled and unskilled labor, and the death/export of potentially well-paid manufacturing jos. For Goolsbee, the reason for the obscene increase in income maldistribution is from "radically increased returns to skill."
What fucking ideologically constipated, irredeemable right-wing nuts those two are, Will and Goolsbee.
Obama's Right-Wing Economist Asshole #2: JEFFREY LIEBMAN
Here's a very dangerous man for your Social Security, and another of Obama's big three advisors, Jeffrey Liebman:
Liebman . . . isn't easily pigeon-holed either. He has supported partial privatization of the government-run retirement system, an idea that's anathema to many Democrats and bears a similarity to a proposal for personal investment accounts that Bush promoted, then dropped in 2005.
"Liebman has been open to private accounts and most people in town would say he's a moderate supporter of them," said Michael Tanner, a Social Security expert at the Cato Institute in Washington, a research organization in Washington that advocates free markets and often backs Republicans.
In a 2005 policy paper Liebman, along with Andrew Samwick of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, and Maya MacGuineas, a former aide to Senator John McCain, advocated a mix of benefit cuts, tax increases and mandatory personal accounts to shore up the system, which will begin paying more in benefits than it takes in through taxes by 2017 under current actuarial estimates.
Obama has called Social Security's problems "real but manageable" and has pledged to preserve what he's called the "essential character" of the pension program.
And didn't Obama also say, last May, that "Everything should be on the table" regarding Social Security? Yes, twice. Here's a little more detail on Obama advisor Jeffrey Liebman et al's anti-Social Security plan:
Perhaps all could take a page from the bipartisan Social Security playbook that three self-described policy wonks from different political camps unveiled this week at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank. . . .
The plan - nicknamed LMS for authors Liebman, MacGuineas and Samwick - agreed on the goals as well as the problem: By mid-century, Social Security will be able to pay only 75 cents of every $1 in promised benefits under the current system. Any solution involves raising taxes, cutting promised benefits or a combination of both.
Obama's Right-Wing Economist Asshole #3: David Cutler
And here's something on "high health costs are good" David Cutler, the third of Obama's three main economic advisers:
Another adviser with a particular interest in health care is David Cutler, a Harvard economist who was also an adviser to Bill Clinton-surprise, surprise. Cutler wrote an article for the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 asserting that "The rising cost ... of health care has been the source of a lot of saber rattling in the media and the public square, without anyone seriously analyzing the benefits gained."
Anxious to show the good side of rising costs, Cutler and a group of other economists defend the idea that a powerful and profitable medical industry can serve as an engine of economic growth in the USA as the wretched Gina Kolata reported in the August 22, 2006 NY Times.
By 2030, predicts Robert W. Fogel, a Nobel laureate at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, about 25 percent of the G.D.P. will be spent on health care, making it "the driving force in the economy," just as railroads drove the economy at the start of the 20th century...
Other economists agree.
"We have to spend our money on something," says Robert E. Hall, a Stanford University economist.
In a paper published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Dr. Hall and Charles I. Jones of the University of California, Berkeley, write: "As we get older and richer, which is more valuable: a third car, yet another television, more clothing -- or an extra year of life?"
David Cutler, an economist at Harvard, calculated the value of extra spending on medicine. "Take a typical person aged 45," he said. "They will spend $30,000 more over their lifetime caring for cardiovascular disease than they would have spent in 1950. And they will live maybe three more years because of it."
Here's more of Cutler's take on health care:
Cutler's approach is radically different [from those with common-sense]. He says that most health-care spending is actually good. Spending has been rising, he says, because it delivers positive, and measurable, economic value, and because it can do more things that Americans want. Therefore, Cutler says, we should focus on improving the quality of care rather than on reducing our consumption of it.
GOOLSBEE VS. MICHAEL MOORE & 'SICKO':
You want more on Obama's advisors' love for privatized health care? Read Goolsbee's slam on Michael Moore's 'Sicko'. A Canadian op-ed provides a nice response to the right-wing take on Canadian health care:
Moore knows that for a U.S. audience he has to break down resistance to the idea of a single-payer system item by item. Canadians leaning to privatized care also should pay close attention. As he makes his way through the hospitals of Canada, Britain and France, he answers the standard objections: Can you choose your own doctor? Yes. Can doctors make a good living? Yes, if by good you don't mean that for an income of several million dollars, you agree to refuse care to people who need it.
But no matter how much evidence Moore puts forward it's not enough for his critics. Austan Goolsbee, reviewing Sicko this month in the online magazine Slate, started off approvingly before recoiling from the suggestion of a single-payer system.
Moore had not factored in the true cost of drugs, Goolsbee charged. "The problem," he wrote, "is that [Cuba, Canada and Britain] get cheap drugs only because they are free-riding off the massive profits made in the American market."
This is a standard U.S. brush-off to suggestions other countries might have useful ideas: The United States has done the heavy lifting and everyone else is piggybacking on its efforts. The only reason countries like Canada and Britain can afford universal health care is because they're freeloaders.
But that's not true. They aren't. In 2005, writing in the British Medical Journal, two researchers, one American and one Canadian, found no proof of "free-riding" on U.S. R&D. On the contrary, they said, it was the United States that underperformed and overcharged. . . .
And was the United States the only country that discovered innovative new drugs? No, the rate of European countries' discoveries was proportionately equal to that in the United States.
It's not Moore who's fear-mongering here. It's the upholders-at-all-cost of privatized medical care, today's purveyors of the Big Lie, capitalist-style.
Finally, here's more on all three of the assholes, from something a couple days ago in the Nation,Subprime Obama:
"There's been less emphasis from the Obama campaign on the really dysfunctional role of the financial industry in the subprime mess," says Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute. "Edwards and Clinton talk much more about regulation of the financial industry going forward, and to the extent that blame is placed, they tend to place it on the lenders for steering people into loans they couldn't afford."
Obama's disappointing foreclosure plan stems from the centrist politics of his three chief economic advisers and his campaign's ties to Wall Street institutions opposed to increased financial regulation. David Cutler and Jeffrey Liebman are both Harvard economists who served in the Clinton Administration, and they work on market-oriented solutions to social welfare issues. Cutler advocates improving healthcare through financial incentives; Liebman, the partial privatization of Social Security.
Austan Goolsbee, an economist at the University of Chicago who calls himself a "centrist market economist," has been most directly involved with crafting Obama's subprime agenda. In a column last March in the New York Times, Goolsbee disputed whether "subprime lending was the leading cause of foreclosure problems," touted its benefits for credit-poor minority borrowers and warned that "regulators should be mindful of the potential downside in tightening [the mortgage market] too much." In October, no less a conservative luminary than George Will devoted a whole column in the Washington Post to saluting Goolsbee's "nuanced understanding" of traditional Democratic issues like globalization and income inequality and concluded that he "seems to be the sort of fellow--amiable, empirical, and reasonable--you would want at the elbow of a Democratic president, if such there must be."
Robert Pollin, an economist at the University of Massachussets, believes "these three advisers generally reflect Obama's very moderate economic program, similar to Clintonism." Wall Street apparently has come to a similar conclusion. Obama had received nearly $10 million in contributions from the finance, insurance and real estate sector through October, and he's second among presidential candidates of either party in money raised from commercial banks, trailing only Clinton. Goldman Sachs, which made $6 billion from devalued mortgage securities in the first nine months of 2007, is Obama's top contributor. When asked if Obama would hold these financial institutions accountable for losses incurred by homeowners and investors, his campaign refused to comment.
You know what to do, piss on the vote, urinelle in hand if you have to.