David R. Henderson  

McCain vs. Obama

Corrupt Bargains... A sort-of Blog to Follow...

Forbes.com published an article by me today comparing some of the economic policies of McCain and Obama. Note my criticism of both of them for voting to move toward central government planning of financial markets.

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CATEGORIES: Fiscal Policy

COMMENTS (6 to date)
Brian Blase writes:

The most important reason to vote for McCain in the election is so he can serve as a check on the Congress, which will certainly be more Democratic after the election. Gridlock is often the best we can hope for by politicians who have incentives to grow government. Unfortunately an Obama administration with a supportive Congress can pass Medicare-like programs that will be nearly impossible to undo once they become enacted and gain a group of core dependents. I'm afraid the free market will be under assault if this transpires.

Joe Battagliano writes:

I'm afraid neither candidate has the muster in the area of ecomomics-
Some realities:
1.) The existing deficit will hamstring anyone wanting vast new social programs.
2.) Militarily, the US is hamstrung in a "two front" war...namely all the existing bases and infrastructure (and costs) of the WW2 bases and commitments, and vast new "fronts" in the war on terror (Iraq being the largest government boondoggle in recent memory).

Without a vast reordering of our commitments vs. ability to pay for vast debts (public and private) this nation is in deep trouble, no amount of "patria" will change that.

Ask a simple question: Who is going to pay for this?

Holding my nose ands voting Libertarian as usual.


ML writes:

To me, small gov. or big gov. are tools to bring economic prosperity, and different times may require different tools. Generally, I am a believer in small gov, free market economy, but at this time, significant fiscal policy might be what's needed. So Obama's policy wouldn't necessarily be terrible at this time.

In choosing a president, I think the most important thing is the way the person makes decision. There will be new challenges and information that will make both candidates' plans obsolete in some ways, so it's important to have a guy who'll make the right decision. Obama seems to be a guy who likes to consult different points of view and make an unemotional decision, whereas McCain tends to go with his guts. In this sense, I am more comfortable with Obama's decision making process.

EconNewbie writes:

ML, as a voter who is still undecided, I would like to question the seemingly sudden devotion to Obama.

"...but at this time, significant fiscal policy might be what's needed."

Can you explain why Obama's brand of fiscal policy is to be preferred over that of McCain's, Barr's, or Nader's?

"Obama seems to be a guy who likes to consult different points of view and make an unemotional decision, whereas McCain tends to go with his guts."

McCain does "follow his gut" on some things, but is spreading the wealth around a gut feeling on what is best? or the best POV Obama could find? Is his extremely strong support for liberal ideals throughout his voting record in Illinois and the U.S senate evidence for his consulting of different points of view? or is it simply a sign of gut feelings driving his political decisions?

As attractive a candidate as Obama might be, I can't get over these conceptions that he is no different than any other politician who goes by gut feeling or party loyalty. And I'm not convinced that his fiscal policies are more correct than the others. Correct me if I'm inaccurate.

Walt French writes:

I am amazed at McCain's utter failure to voice a consistent normative theme about the economy other than cutting taxes and the corruption of earmarks.

Every Republican at least since Reagan has promised to cut taxes and "eliminate waste, fraud and abuse," but the only president since then to actually balance the budget was Clinton. McCain has simply mouthed a bunch of old, empty promises. (Empty, because a dollar borrowed is a dollar plus interest that will have to be paid from taxes; they are merely deferred.)

His economic "message" is dominated by cheap shots about Obama's offhand remark to "joe the plumber," random shots about housing and capital gains tax rates that are irrelevant to the current economic mess, or ridiculous stunts such as his threat to call off the debate to work out the Paulson plan (despite not having read the double-spaced 3 pages nor actually getting involved with anybody outside of his campaign, being totally blindsided by his own party in the House).

The closest he came to writing worked-out proposals was his health care plan that threatens to add adverse selection problems & mutual-fund-class administrative costs atop an increased rate of uninsured low-income costs dumped on ERs. Next best was a retread of Bush's tax cuts, favoring the wealthiest, while making it harder for low-income families to hope for better incomes. Fortunately, he dumped his earlier proposal to gut Social Security.

McCain has expressed some admirable positions over the years and is of course a war hero, but in refusing to coherently address average Americans' economic aspirations and concerns, he seems aggressively disdainful of the electorate. He might be the better candidate for the presumably wealthier who read this blog, but why would the majority of voters put their future into his hands?

A different JB writes:

I am completely sick of seeing Obama, and even if I didn't feel strongly that McCain is the better choice, I'd likely not for Obama just because I've had enough of him already to last me the next four years. McCain started out trying to take the high road and not so many potshots, but I've seen at least as much, if not more negative advertising coming from the pathetic democratic side. And the first negative ad I saw was anti-McCain. I don't see where there is any incentive at all for anyone to do better for themselves under Obama's plan. We might as well not bother to try harder, becuase his plan is just going to penalize us for doing better and making more. I'm all for helping those less fortunate, and do it the best I can whenever I can, but I don't want government dictating it! Maybe we should all just sit back and collect, until someone realizes that it just isn't going to work that way and that's not what America is supposed to be about. The dem's want to pooh-pooh the talk of socialistic and Marxist similarities... but come on! I don't have a gun, but I'll cling to my religion and pray that this doesn't turn out all democratic on Tuesday!

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