Update: Also see our list of McCain's economic advisers.
A couple weeks ago I wrote to the economists who signed the letter in support of McCain's economic policies. Drawing upon Jonah's discussion of the biggest problems with the letter, I wrote a straight-forward message which I hoped would provoke some interesting back-and-forth. Alas, the Economists for McCain have ignored me, bursting my bubble of self-importance.
I console myself with the thought that this non-response partially reflects a generation gap. McCain's economists are mostly pretty old--one guy was on Eisenhower's Council of Economic Advisors--and less likely to have embraced the democratic salon of the Internet age. I know the intellectual style of this earlier generation: when they descend from the ivory tower, it's to make wise pronouncements, not to chit-chat with the masses.
(In fairness I should note that Gary Becker, who's older than his endorsee McCain by half a decade, has a blog, with comments!)
Anyway, here's the message I sent to each of the letter's signatories:
Dear Professor X,(Apologies for the pseudonym: unfortunately, I am subject to restrictions on political activity in my current position, and consequently for purposes associated with the weblog, I can't use my real name.)I am writing regarding your letter in support of John McCain that was posted on Tyler Cowen's website. I am part of a group of economists who favor Barack Obama for the presidency and who have a weblog with discussion of economic issues in the campaign.
In the interest of promoting a serious dialogue on the differences in the economic approaches of the two candidates, I am hoping you will take the time to answer a few questions related to the letter.
Here are the questions:
1) Do you take seriously the $5.7 trillion in additional deficits over 10 years projected by the Tax Policy Center analysis of McCain's program? If not, why not?
2) Are you concerned about the long-term cost of a continued American military presence in Iraq?
3) Given the Supreme Court's previous rejection of the line-item veto, do you think a "constitutionally-valid line item veto" is possible, and if so, how?
4) What makes you say that there has been "explosive growth" of non-military discretionary government spending programs? This think tank analysis shows that the real growth rate of domestic discretionary spending 2001-2008 was 1.3%. By comparison, defense/security increased 9.1%, while SS/Medicare/Medicaid increased 3.8% As a share of GDP, domestic discretionary spending actually fell, from 3.1% to 2.8%.
I would also appreciate any other comments you have beyond the material in the letter regarding what motivates your support for Senator McCain. Please note that we may post your response on our weblog.