According to the latest polls, the economy is the biggest issue for voters. So I ask myself which candidate for president has the most support from economists. And my answer is...um...I don't know.

Now here's the interesting part about that particular piece of ignorance: I follow the news more than most people. So why don't I know the answer to the most important question in this election?

I know all about lapel pins and fist pumps and gaffes and ministers. I have a pretty good idea where the candidates are on most irrelevant issues. But I don't know if independent economists have a consensus on who would be the best president, economy-wise.

The best I could find on the Internet in a quick search was a list of (presumably) Democrat economists supporting Obama and a list of (presumably) Republican economists supporting McCain. Does that really tell me anything?

Obama Economists


McCain Economists


Do you know whose side most independent economists are on, or do you pretend you have that sort of expertise yourself?

I expect some people will leave comments to this post along the lines of "It is obvious that (one of the candidates) has the best economic policy because he will do (whatever) and the other guy won't!" Unfortunately, economics is not common sense. It's a mix of science, calculus, chaos, expectations, and voodoo. In other words, if you think you understand economics, that's proof that you don't.

Here's the question of the day: Who do you think would be the best president for improving the economy, and what makes you an expert on economics?

Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +13
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Jun 17, 2008
I think the entire premise of which candidate has the best economic policy is flawed. I believe both candidates will grow the government, albeit in different ways, and that doesn't bode well for the economy. I think the economy would do best under a president who tries to shrink the size and scope of government.
Jun 17, 2008
I know you can't trust when a politician says they know a lot about something, but when they say they don't know about something, I think you can believe them:


Jun 17, 2008
Obama said he opposes offshore drilling because it won't affect gas prices for five years after it's approved. Since I plan on living in this country and driving cars five years from now, I won't be voting for him. DUH. The economy is 4-6 years behind policy changes. Our current economy is based on lending practices and energy policy implemented after 9/11 to 'stimulate' the economy. OOPS.
Jun 17, 2008
Superlol is joking right. We - I'm speaking as 'the rest of the world' don't hate America because of your ring tones or SUVs, or what you believe in. No we hate you because you are the most fundamentally free and just country in the world, but you're throwing all your principles away because you are fools that want to return to the dark ages.

The founding Fathers were totally unelected, and they gave you everything that is good about your country. You don't need to elect a new leader you just need to listen to the words of your dead ones.
Jun 17, 2008
The most detrimental person to America so far has been George Bush. The US will benefit most from a leader that is not George Bush, so both candidates are good choices, but since McCain has more associations with Bush I'd say Obama must be your man.

The greatest possible asset for any president coming in is the amount that they appear to be unlike George Bush. The image that the US must project to the world is that they reject George Bush and wish he had never been born. That is the only way you will regain your position globally. I know this because I am the head of the UN Ban Ki-Moon.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
Enough of the Opinions/Predictions on who will be better for the economy.
How about cold hard economic measurements of past presidents? Check out this one, done by FORBES magazine in 2004...


which basically says that CLINTON economy was best, and overall, Democratic economies rank far better than Republican ones. Frankly, it's pretty hard to argue the findings of this article.

If your issue of importance is national economy, and Democratic policies are proven to be better for our country, then vote for the guy who supports those policies.

If you don't care about the economy, and your important issues lie elsewhere, such as with capital gains tax, lowering corporate tax, deregulation, military spending, handgun rights, religion in government, limiting women's rights, or sanctity of marriage, then vote for the guy who supports that.

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
Obama showed me how he'd do with the economy in the last Democrat debate. He was told that historical data indicates that an increase in the capital gains tax has historically resulted in a decrease in revenue to the government. Taking that into account, do you still support raising the capital gains tax rate? His response was yes because it would be more fair.

By using the phrase "more fair" it sounds like he is implying that this increase would be aimed at the more affluent. But on this theory, if revenues drop, then although the more affluent are paying a higher rate, but paying less of the overall tax burden.

Also, most middle class Americans today are going to be relying on our 401K and IRA accounts for our retirement. I believe the that the growth funds in these is taxed as capital gains. Is doubling the tax burden on people living off of their savings what he meant by more fair?

That said, McCain is an idiot too. What morons the 4 who graduated below him must have been!
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
There are so many factors that affect the economy (and so many factors that make a good president) that I don't know which president would be the best for the economy. So I'll stick with my old standby option and choose the tallest guy, and just pray that my newly bought stock in poop keeps going up.
+9 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
Presidents actually have very little effect on the economy, and when they do, it's typically their successors who get the credit/blame. Case in point, Bush's Iraq war boondoggle mandates low spending and high taxes for the next couple of presidents. Bush himself has reaped the negative consequences of looser regulation of mortgages and financial derivatives based on mortgages, neither of which was his fault.

Congress sets tax policy, although presidents do occasionally veto bills they don't like.

The Federal Reserve System sets monetary policy, determining interest rates and the size of the money supply.

Presidents can set regulatory policy, negotiate trade agreements, and affect the economy in various other, mostly tangential ways. As I see it, there are two main things the next president can do that would help the economy: (1) improve education and (2) reform our health insurance system. Obama's plan to provide an insurer of last resort would help the economy by lowering the risk of switching jobs. (The assumption here is that lots of folks stay in non-ideal jobs merely because they have stable health benefits.) I really haven't heard any credible education reform plan from either candidate, unfortunately.

One more thing: I do like McCain's position against farm subsidies. He's against them and paid the price in the Iowa caucuses.
-5 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
Did I see a guy below post a comment and claim to be a weather man!!! Why even bother typing out his thoughts? I'm sorry, maybe it's not a valid stereotype, but I just can't let myself believe anything he's saying lest I find myself caught in a blizzard wearing sandals and swiming trunks.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
You're right that both candidates leave much to be desired as far as economics is concerned. But I would favor McCain for this reason: There will almost certainly be a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, and it would be better to have a Republican president to maintain a 'checks and balances' situation. If Obama is president, it would be far easier for him, and the spendthrifts in Congress, to get everything they can think of passed into law, at our expense.

As a general rule, I believe the country is better served with the White House and Congress not being controlled by the same party.
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
"In other words, if you think you understand economics, that's proof that you don't."

If this statement were valid, then one ought not to listen to economists. Since it might be supposed that they generally think they understand economics. Unless of course you are going to make the arguement that the more they know about economics the more they realise they don't know.

0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
ew table didn't space well.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
I was trying to think of a way to judge by the two lists you gave which is more impressive. Given that economists are generally ranked by publications, citations, etc I went to ideas.org and matched up the names with the rankings for fun. 12 of the McCain Economists showed up (only the top 5% or 828 economists are listed on the site) with an average ranking of 146 (Notables: Lucas=5, Feldstein=8). 10 Obama economists showed up with an average ranking of 225 (Notables: Stiglitz=3, Summers=18). This being said there were several notable economists that didn't make the top 5% probably because they were too busy making good policies to write papers, these include A. Krueger (M), Mundell (M), Romer (O), Galbraith (O). However, the Obama list looks more like advisors and people who have formally endorsed Obama's policies and the McCain list, I gather from the comments in the site, are people who replied to an email asking to endorse some list of policies attributed to McCain.

McCain Economists Ranking Obama Economists Ranking
Gary Becker, 41 Austan Goolsbee 637
Robert Lucas, 5 David Cutler, 139
Vernon Smith, 320 Jeff Liebman, 430
Steven Davis, 278 Richard Thaler, 128
Francis X. Diebold, 74 Larry Summers, 18
Martin Eichenbaum, 36 Alan Blinder, 108
Martin Feldstein, 8 Brad Delong, 244
Glenn Hubbard, 117 Joseph Stiglitz, 3
Kenneth Rogoff, 40 Edmund Phelps, 391
Harvey Rosen, 224 Ray Fair, 155
John Taylor, 54 Average 225.3
Arnold Zellner. 558
Average 146.25
Source: http://ideas.repec.org/top/top.person.all.html

A better way to look at this is to examine the background of the key economic advisors in the two camps. For McCain we have Gerry Parsky, Kevin Hassett and John Taylor all advised either/both Bush Sr. or Jr. For Obama I gather the main advisors are Jason Furman and Austan Goolsbee... not sure about Furman (looks more political then economist) but Goolsbee has done some interesting research. Like most other things in this campaign McCain seems to be the status quo with staunch career republicans, Obama offers new ideas and new/young talent.
Jun 17, 2008
As for the war- it was started to protect America and our way of life- and it continues to protect us. Do some research...find out why our troops are still there...they aren't there partying. They are getting the job done. Less money= less workers to get the job done.

We whine about our troops being over there, but 1 terrorist attack on Chicago, NY, or L.A. would have Americans in an uproar about how the government failed to protect us. They are doing their job of protecting us by staying offensive and shutting down the terrorist cells and the insurgents that are trying to fight back- and are getting smarter.

I think war is awful- and there shouldn't have to be wars to fix problems, but guess what? Everyone else in the world looks at us driving around in our big SUV's and the money we spend on cell phone ring tones, and they hate us. They hate what we stand for.

But this is about the economy- so I'll stop already...
Jun 17, 2008
I'm not going to say that I feel one is better with economics than the other, only that I believe Obama is the better choice.

Here's my reasoning:

Bush has been more or less in control of the economic policy in the US for the past several years. We can all see where his policies have gotten us. McCain intends to continue with Bush's policies, making some slight changes here and there.

Obama is planning on heading a completely different direction.

One of the definitions of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Why would I vote for a candidate that plans on continuing the current policies if I don't like where the country is at right now unless I was insane?
Jun 17, 2008
Wow, I really like Obama for most things but I think they both STINK on economics.

Even though the liberal candidate, Obama, stands to implement more taxes and more programs for the people, I still think he's the better choice. I believe that because he wants to stop the biggest spending hole, Iraq. His motives may not be economic, but the side effect is a better economy.

I'm an expert because I can do basic math. The money we poured into a fruitless war is the most we've ever spent on anything.... ever.
Jun 17, 2008
OK, so I am a stay-at-home mom, and I tend to lean towards the conservative side of things. That being said, I think the economy definitely won't get better- or worse- from either of the candidates. Obama has some charmed into believing that he can "change" everything. McCain just doesn't seem to understand the big picture, so to speak. I think either one is going to put us in a situation we don't like. The only true way the economy will change is for the people in the country to start getting smarter- instead of stupider- with their money and income. People spend what they don't have- plain and simple. And it's getting worse. Until everyone takes personal responsibility for themselves, and the government starts giving handouts only to those who truly need it (rather than dishing out unemployment checks to the druggies and lazy a** people who won't stoop to flipping burgers to have a steady job, and know the gov't will bail them out...but...we aren't going there are we). We need to be a smarter, harder working country. Whatever candidate brings out the work ethic and personal responsibility in everyone will do better for the economy.
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
I actually wonder why anyone thinks it truly matters who the candidate is - the bottom line is really whether you think the Republican or the Democratic party is better for the economy.

It's a cynical outlook, to be sure, but in the end it doesn't really matter who the candidate is, because they're not going to stray that far from the party line.

And while I don't appreciate seeing "only" rich people get significant tax breaks, I also don't appreciate the government sponsoring all kinds of new programs without a balanced budget.

Both parties suck - but PLEASE stop telling me how wonderful Obama would be, with all his social programs and "we'll make this better" crap, when I know it's going to come right out of my pocket and the deficit isn't going to get any smaller, no matter which party wins the vote.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2008
Obama - better for the economy - The war is causing massive deficit spending, and the play money (borrowing) used to pay the cost is devaluing US currency. Obama will reduce the Iraq spending substantially, and this well help US currency value to recover.

Why am I an expert on economics? Truly, no one is! If economists really had the answers, they would be the wealthiest people in the country. They are not. The difference between my opinion and the economist's opinion is the difference between a guess and an educated guess.
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