Saturday, February 23, 2008

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

Tyler Cowen thinks I'm rational

In his New York Times column, Tyler Cowen articulates my basic attitude towards evaluating presidential candidates:

[T]he public this year will probably not vote itself into a much better or even much different economic policy. To be sure, the next president — whoever he or she may be — may well extend health care coverage to more Americans. But most of the country’s economic problems won’t be solved at the voting booth. It is already too late to stop an economic downturn. Health care costs will keep rising, no matter who becomes president or which party controls Congress. China is now a bigger carbon polluter than the United States, so don’t expect a tax or cap-and-trade rules to solve global warming, even if American measures are very stringent — and they probably won’t be, because higher home heating bills are not a vote winner. A Democratic president may propose more spending on social services, but most of the federal budget is on automatic pilot. Furthermore, even if a Republican president wanted to cut back on such mandates, the bulk of them are here to stay....

[I]f you’re still worrying about how to vote, I have two pieces of advice. First, spend your time studying foreign policy, where the president has more direct power, and the choice of a candidate makes a much bigger difference. Second, stop worrying and get back to work. (emphasis added)

posted by Dan on 02.23.08 at 09:23 AM


"...spend your time studying foreign policy, where the president has more direct power..."

Yikes! Is the author implying that Americans should do some studying so that they can actually locate China or Iran on a map? Wishful thinking, at best.

posted by: Joseph Sixpack on 02.23.08 at 09:23 AM [permalink]

Hey Dan, I realize there's still about 8 months to get into it, but could you talk about the effect that electing a black man with a muslim father and with the middle name Hussein will have on American foreign policy? I'd be interested to hear your take on the unique challenges and opportunities this would present.

posted by: jared on 02.23.08 at 09:23 AM [permalink]

Well, if Tyler Cowen thinks so...

posted by: the dude on 02.23.08 at 09:23 AM [permalink]

I rarely trust Cowen's analyses, and I'm skeptical here.

The big thing is control of Congress. If Obama wins simultaneously with huge Democratic Party gains in both chambers, and especially with a filibuster-proof Senate majority, don't rule out very significant changes in domestic policy, even those tax increases and carbon-tax-driven higher home heating bills.

Iraq's mostly going to be an issue because McCain will make it one, and yes foreign economic policy will be of greater concern, as a plurality of 40 percent or so of the public thinks China's surpassed the U.S. as the leading economic power.

So I can give Cowen some benefit on stressing international relations.

posted by: Americaneocon on 02.23.08 at 09:23 AM [permalink]

We Americans do not cast a vote based upon rational foreign policy or economics. By overwhelming percentages (well in excess of 90%), we vote usually for the candidate who closest agrees with our personal world-view on domestic policies, and then residually for whichever candidate is generally most likable (Hillary loses). Rationality in foreign policy has almost nothing to do with our national voting behavior.

posted by: a Duoist on 02.23.08 at 09:23 AM [permalink]

Not quite right; Supreme Court Justices and the veto; the President has an overwhelming influence on domestic policy vis-a-vis these two powers. I would say domestically, together these are the equivalent 1/2 Congress, i.e., 50 Senators and 217.5 Representatives.


posted by: The Objective Historian on 02.23.08 at 09:23 AM [permalink]

TOH makes a good point: the next president will affect what our civil liberties look like. Will the NSA continue to spy on us? Will the US continue to throw habeas corpus and the Geneva Convention overboard? Will the next president enact laws and then negate them with signing statements?

As to the economy, it seems to me there is plenty of room to raise taxes. Admittedly, this is a hard sell during a recession, but that may only delay a tax increase.

posted by: Hal on 02.23.08 at 09:23 AM [permalink]


How brave you are to post such thoughts with the gov't thugs spying on you and with no habeas corpus to protect you.

posted by: tom on 02.23.08 at 09:23 AM [permalink]

Hal, if you want to pay more taxes, please do so voluntarily, but leave the rest of us out of it.

posted by: Useless Sam Grant on 02.23.08 at 09:23 AM [permalink]

How have the Geneva Conventions been "thrown overboard"? To whom have they applied, yet been ignored?

posted by: Justin (NC) on 02.23.08 at 09:23 AM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?