Some Advice for President-Elect Obama
Hat tip to Tyler Cowen at MR .
Harvard economist (and Republican-leaning citizen) Greg Mankiw gives Obama some good advice moving forward.
It's a short but good read.
After congratulating Obama on his historic win, Mankiw turns to economic policy and takes a cursory look at some broad issues on the forth-coming policy agenda with some advice.
In short these tips are:
1. Listen to your economists
2. Embrace some Republican ideas
3.Pay attention to budget constraints
4.Recognize past mistakes
On point 1, I agree wholeheartedly. Austan Goolsbee is excellent as are the others. Obama had a good list of advisers. Mankiw even knows quite well:
Your campaign’s director of economic policy, Jason Furman, is a smart, sensible, and well-trained policy economist. I know: He is a former student of mine.
But Mankiw warns:
Pay close attention to what they have to say. They will often give you advice quite different from what you will hear from congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
He urges Obama to keep them nearby and have them present at all relevant meetings. Let's hope they have some sway.
Point 2 is well put and worth consideration. As Mankiw says, neither party has a monopoly on truth and good ideas. As a libertarian, I agree 100% ;)
Mankiw then draws examples from a recent Democratic President who had some economic success: Bill Clinton and is adopting of the GOP welfare reform. Good idea...regardless of party.
He then gives a prop to McCain's health care tax credit proposal and mentions how the idea hits close to home:
Did you know that long before McCain ever proposed this idea, it was advanced by Mr. Furman, your campaign’s policy director? He can explain to you why the Furman-McCain plan makes a lot of sense.
While I'm not totally sold on the idea, it does make some sense on first consideration and is surly worth another look come reform time.
Point 3 goes without saying but I'm not sure it will get much traction. But hey, perhaps Obama will pull a "Bill Clinton" and make deficit reduction and budgetary reform a key priority. We'll see.
Point 4 is also a great piece of advice. Again, Mankiw uses Clinton as an example. Obama's trade record as a Senator is abysmal. See link for some examples.
But simply preemptively defers to Obama's advisers:
Your economists can explain to you why these positions were wrong-headed.
Indeed. And I'm sure they will. Will he listen and tell the Left-leaning special interests to shove it? I hope so. It wouldn't be the first time for a Dem President. Clinton broke ranks and expanded trade while President and without much Democratic support.
This past Tuesday, many people voted for you hoping you would achieve the kind of economic success that Bill Clinton enjoyed in the 1990s. Your best chance of delivering what they want requires that you abandon some of your past positions and pursue a more moderate, bipartisan course.
I've had several conversations since the election and just before it urging some of my Republican friends and family to lighten up and relax. I insisted he would do just fine. I was always optimistic that Obama would not be an economically illiterate loose cannon ready to adopt a destructive agenda. And I still believe that. He is President now. There are no strategic Senate votes, Leftist special interest constituents, bending to whips and majority leaders and their agendas. He has to see things differently and I believe he will.