The Spectacle Blog

Barack Obama: Rubinomics or Road to Serfdom?

By on 7.28.08 | 1:58PM

Cesar Conda has a great piece on Obama's economic team in the latest Weekly Standard. The central question is whether Obama's approach to economics will be closer to the doctrinaire liberalism of his campaign platform or his more pragmatic, market-friendly advisers. Jason Furman and Austan Goolsbee are well respected, centrist free traders, not wooly-eyed statist liberals, which is why many Obamacons cite them as evidence that Obama is not so bad.

Conda is fair in describing what's good about Furman and Goolsbee, but he doesn't spare the bad and the ugly:

But how much comfort can conservatives take from Obama having such "reasonable" economic advisers? There is certainly no question that an Obama administration is a frightening prospect for free-market advocates. This self-described "free market guy" has said he opposes the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and will reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He would sign legislation raising the minimum wage and ending secret balloting for workers deciding on unionization. He would require employers to pay for health insurance for their workers, mandate coverage for all children, and expand Medicaid and other government programs. He wants higher fuel-economy standards for new cars and trucks, power companies to produce some of their electricity from solar and renewable sources, and federal ethanol mandates.

Furman and Goolsbee are obviously in agreement with much of this agenda, and both have been strong advocates of progressive taxation. Goolsbee, in particular, has taken direct aim at the conservative movement's biggest economic policy achievement of the past three decades: the sharp reduction in marginal tax rates, especially the top personal income tax rate. He is a leader in the liberal onslaught against the Laffer Curve, producing research to show that income tax cuts "for high-income taxpayers likely gave windfalls to those whose incomes were already sharply rising because of broader market forces."

Given the likelihood of taxes and spending rising on auto pilot anyway, that sounds like reason enough to be worried about even the pragmatic, market-friendly advisers.

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