The Thoughtful President

17 December 2009 at 9:38 am 2 comments

| Peter Klein |

The President’s supporters portray him as thoughtful, well-informed, and deliberative. Unlike his predecessor, who acted on impulse, rarely considered dissenting points of view, and lived in a protective bubble, Obama reads, understands alternative perspectives, and thinks through arguments. Look how long it took him to decide on an Afghanistan policy!

And yet, on economic policy, the President is shockingly parochial. He has repeatedly challenged critics of his stimulus program to “produce a single economist” who opposes his actions. Anyone who disagrees with massive government borrowing and expenditures to “rescue” the economy is simply an obfuscationist, a partisan trying to score cheap political points at the expense of the national good. I think Obama genuinely believes this. He’s certain he’s right, so criticism bewilders him. He simply can’t fathom that there might be honest disagreement on basic economic issues. For Obama, the range of macroeconomic opinion runs from, say, Krugman to Summers. It’s like Pauline Kael’s famous line that Nixon couldn’t have won in 1972 because “no one I know voted for him.”

Of course, I’m not expecting a White House invitation for me and my friends to present Austrian business-cycle theory. But you’d think he might listen to Cochrane, Zingales, Mulligan, Becker, Glaeser, or even Mankiw.

This is our thoughtful, well-informed, deliberative Chief Executive?

Entry filed under: - Klein -, People, Public Policy / Political Economy. Tags: .

I Wish I’d Written That Disney Organizational Chart, circa 1943

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David Hoopes  |  19 December 2009 at 2:32 am

    Seems like Afghanistan is the first thing he’s been deliberate about. Look at closing Gitmo. Said he was gonna do it. Had no plan. Stumbling through the whole thing. It seems to me his approach to “economics” better represents how he “thinks.” Basically accepts received view (with little or no understanding) and gets really mad when anyone dissents.

    Bush considered Democratic opinion quite a bit regarding education and other things (Bush was not much of a conservative in many regards).

    Bush also spent $4b on aids in Africa research. The press vilified him. Everyone bought it. I don’t think he was a very good president. But, for different reasons than the commonly espoused media-driven view.

    I’m continually underwhelmed with politicians’ and journalists’ views on political economy.

    If i get my computer camera working I’m going to start posting some “micro foundations of macro” on Youtube cause i’m so sick of listening to all the blather about how the trillion dollar health bill will lower health costs.

    Rambling again.

    Sigh

  • 2. Bo  |  19 December 2009 at 10:08 am

    And then there is Copenhagen….

    At this point it is still unclear exactly what the “deal” entails, however, one thing seems certain; not much actual commitment and action will take place; no commitment on Co2 and a “deal” that no everyone has to agree on (?) and that is not legally binding for anyone anyway (and with no agreement on control etc)….

    Now we hear that Obama is being compared to Bush by some “less-developed” countries…..oh my….why am I not surprised…only bad thing is that Denmark is still being portrayed as being in the pocket of Obama (priviously it was Bush)….seems we cannot get a break….

    Oh – well there is always Mexico next year….and the environment will probably survive even Obama…..

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