March 04, 2003

No, Marty Feldstein Is Not "Voting" Against Bush...

ABC News's The Note now counts Marty Feldstein as a dissenter from Bush Administration economic policy. This does not seem to me to be true. Marty agrees with the Bush Administration in wanting to see taxes fall as a share of GDP. Marty is thinking more clearly than the Bush Administration in that he is focused--has long been focused--on the necessity for a severe pruning-back of the social-insurance state if reduced tax shares are to be a durable reality. (The Bush Administration wants to leave this as a problem for future Presidents, future Congresses, and future generation.) Where Marty dissents--and this has been the case for at least a year--is in viewing the current situation in which unemployment is above its natural rate and the economy is approaching the edge of deflation as... well, as a sign that stimulus is needed.

In short, this was no surprise to me or to anyone else who has been watching Marty's thinking over the past year. Yet it seems newsworthy to The Note, which is one of the very best political newsletters around.

Yet another example of how what seems very basic and fundamental to economists somehow turns into an unobservable nuance for journalists... : Political News Summary: Also writing in the Journal, on the op-ed page, Martin Feldstein "votes" with the president on accelerating the tax cuts, but basically "votes" against him by suggesting the economy isn't doing all that well, and isn't getting better, and by suggesting the White House should compromise and make a deal with Democrats that combines some of the president's tax cuts with some of the Democrats' call for fiscal aid to the states....

undefined Posted by DeLong at March 4, 2003 01:02 PM | TrackBack


Sure sure - I walked the same halls. Marty is the cat's pajamas, but Marty is a Republican's Republican. Marty is a conservative, but if there is any social compassion to Marty's policies I never knew it. The Administrtion is apparently set on undoing Social Security and Medicare and Marty is happily rich enough to support just that. Bah.

Posted by: dahl on March 4, 2003 01:39 PM

Did you see the article about Feldstein's intro economics course yesterday in the Crimson
( )?
With the articles they've been writing about him, I was beginning to think he was a doctrinaire ideologue ( )

Posted by: Bobby on March 4, 2003 02:01 PM

From the Crimson story:

> Nearly 200 students signed an online petition this weekend to support a
> "more balanced alternative" to Social Analysis 10, the introduction to
> economics course offered by Baker Professor of Economics Martin S.
> Feldstein.
> Students for a Humane And Responsible Economics (SHARE) posted the petition
> on the Web to support Barker Professor of Economics Stephen A. Marglin's
> proposal for an alternative to the first semester of the popular Core,
> colloquially known as "Ec 10."


> SHARE was revived this year, after a lapse in interest, by a group of
> students that includes Marglin's daughter, Jessica M. Marglin '06.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 4, 2003 03:44 PM

"Yet another example of how what seems very basic and fundamental to economists somehow turns into an unobservable nuance for journalists... "

And why should journalists know any more about economics than anything else they report on?

As it happens, there's a big brouhaha going on at Columbia University's School of Journalism at the moment about, among other academic warfare type things, the incoming dean's idea that journalism students should be trained not just in generic "journalism" but also in the subject they intend to journalize about, so as to actually know something about it.

Also about the longer term of coursework and extra tuition involved, to be recovered through a starting journalist's salary that would be no higher, as one's first real-world job will probably covering high-school football games anyhow.

Posted by: Jim Glass on March 4, 2003 08:53 PM

The Bush strategy is to collect campaign contributions up front and then use his power to give kickbacks in the form of tax cuts to the donors. Pretty slick stategy, eh? This puts Bush in control of the TV time. If his opponents attack him, Bush can overwhelm the opponent with negative ads, whisper campaigns on the net, etc.

So Feldstein proposal a compromise. Give the base its tax cuts and throw enough bones to the gereral electorate to keep them happy. This is a sure recipe for fiscal disaster that will have to be bailed out by Bush's successor. No one in the media gives Clinton the credit for raising taxes on the wealthy that finally brought the budget into balance. No one in the media assigns Bush the blame for putting the budget into deficit by giving huge tax breaks to the rich. I think it is time for ecomists to speak the truth,

Posted by: bakho on March 4, 2003 09:18 PM

" If his opponents attack him...."

You think that might happen?

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan on March 5, 2003 06:44 AM
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