Monday, October 20, 2008

An Obama Victory Would be Good for America

Candidates Obama and McCain often sound different when it comes to describing their public policy plans (although not always: both sounded the same -- that is, silent -- when Congress took $700 billion from Americans to bail out Wall Street). I like McCain's sound better than Obama's, because Obama more often talks about policy proposals and policy philosophies that don't make a lot of economic sense.

But it would not be good for America to have a president chosen merely on the basis of how the candidate's rhetoric sounds to Casey Mulligan. I think it is clear that a lot of people -- probably less than half, but still a lot -- like Obama's sound better. Moreover, the Obama fans are INTENSE about their preference. That intensity ought to count in the political marketplace.

You might say that Obama's nice (to many) sound should not outweigh the bad policies he will implement. That's a good point, but irrelevant. Just because Obama more often talks about bad policy proposals and policy philosophies does not mean that he would actually implement them. The Democrat-Republic rhetorical gap is vastly wider than their policy gap.

I estimate that an Obama presidency would, relative to a McCain presidency, reduce economy efficiency by less than $50 per person per year (you can read about the details here, but please wait until Nov 5). That small loss in economic efficiency is almost outweighed by Oprah Winfrey's enthusiasm alone! Seriously, judging from campaign contributions and rally-turnouts, I think it is likely that the intensity of preference felt for Obama by a significant minority of America is worth $50 per person per year.

P.S. Let me add that Professor Goolsbee is a good economist (being a good economist got him in trouble in Canada). So Republicans do not have a monopoly on having good economists in house.

[update Oct 27: The Financial Times endorses Obama, emphasizing "Mr Obama, on form, is as fine a political orator as the country has heard in decades."]


Donald Pretari said...

"Just because Obama more often talks about bad policy proposals and policy philosophies does mean that he would actually implement them."

That's my hope. As well, I find the GOP's position on issues other than economics far more troubling than you do.

Sheng said...
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Angela C Erickson said...

I agree for the most part. But I have 2 issues. The first being the large amount of support behind Obama will allow him to more easily and quickly pass policies that may not be good economic policies once he becomes elected. Though I think Obama would generally bring more rational policies (maybe its just his speak).

And just because it is worth each American to pay $50 to Casey doesn't mean its worth that to each American. (aka. I don't want to be paying for our lobster buffet when I don't like lobster).

DaveinHackensack said...

Those supporting Obama seem to be divided into two broad groups when it comes to economic policy: those who think Obama would govern as a left-of-center pragmatist (as some of his campaign rhetoric suggests) and those who think he would govern as an orthodox liberal (as his background and voting record suggests). David Brooks has argued that whatever Obama's intentions, as an inexperienced politician, he would be pulled toward the left by the Democrats' liberal leaders in Congress.

The danger, as I see it, of an Obama presidency combined with a Democratic majority in the House and a perhaps filibuster-proof majority in the Senate is that we could end up with bad policies that will be impossible to repeal, e.g., we could be put on the path to a single-payer health care system.

On the other hand, if the liberals do everything on their wish list, by 2016 we'll probably have interest rates and inflation so high that they'll be swept out of office.