Arnold Kling  

My NPR Non-Appearance

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Earlier today, I got an email from someone at NPR asking if I was available to comment on the President's speech afterward. I replied with my phone number, and the woman called me (not an on-air personality. I will withhold her name.) She started asking me my opinions on various things. When she asked my opinion on having Federal agencies refinance everyone's mortgage, I said that I thought that homeowners had already had enough subsidies thrown at them. She replied, "But I have friends with underwater mortgages!" She simply could not conceive of anyone holding my views.

An hour later, she left a voice mail saying sorry, but it was not going to work for me to appear on the show. She said they would keep me in mind and perhaps use me some other time. After hell freezes over would be my guess.

My sense is that the proposals in the speech were a mix of some good and some bad. But I thought the President over-promised on what they would accomplish. I think people are getting sort of tired of that, but it could be just me.

If you made me evaluate the ideas as a single package, my criterion would be this: does it give more money and power to Washington, or does it take some away? If it's the latter, then I am for it. I suspect not, though, so I would probably lean against the overall program. I like the idea of corporate tax reform.

I worry about having the government refinance a ton of mortgages at really low rates. If rates subsequently rise, as taxpayers we would face huge capital losses (the homeowners would benefit). The last thing the budget needs is more exposure to an increase in interest rates.

I worry about using future spending cuts to pay for current tax cuts and spending increases. If we were starting from a sustainable budget path, then ok. But until you come up with enough future spending cuts to make our current promises manageable, I don't think it should be legitimate to make new promises.

Anyway, I don't like blogging about current political issues. But the NPR mixup got me thinking about it.


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COMMENTS (8 to date)
drobviousso writes:

Thank God NPR is here to provide a different voice than those nasty for-profit broadcasters. I mean, if they didn't have filters to ensure that only people with the right kind of opinions are permitted to comment, who will?

(PS, I have less of a problem with their for profit peers doing this. They aren't taxpayer funded, and I just don't watch them)

Bill writes:

I have friends that are underwater on their car loans too. Wouldn't it be cool if when you drove a new car off the lot, the government would send you a check for the drop in value?

Marsha writes:

"But I have friends with underwater mortgages!" When does befriending a person equate to thinking that they can’t make mistakes? Of course we all want the best for our friends and family, but we aren’t doing them any favors by pretending that the problems they bring on themselves aren’t their fault.

stephen writes:

This is straight up bias. And its not because of the questions asked.

Neeraj Krishnan writes:

Could we please have a Roubini/Krugman vs Kling bloggingheads.tv episode.

Matt C writes:

> Anyway, I don't like blogging about current political issues.

I hope you'll keep doing it sometimes, because you usually have a different, and interesting, emphasis from the other guys that I read.

TH writes:

There's another lesson here, too, quite apart from the economics.

Any media outlet that wants you to go through a job interview with the intern before they decide whether you will be on the air is not worth the interview. That's my experience, at any rate, as a fellow academic who's been there and done that...

MC writes:

As someone who purchased a home at a value of $190k and basically my neighbor (6 yrs later) just purchased at half the value for essentially the same home, I think this is by far the largest issue to economic recovery. I've dumped in 32k+ the regular payments and may still be $30k underwater... Blame who you want. Fact is I'm in position not to invest or spend but to be paying money to the bank just to get to a position to having flexibility to do something other than go bankrupt...

My income has doubled since purchase but that doesn't make the situation any better because prices deflated faster than any income increase could have reasonably paced. I knew at the time housing prices were out of whack but I bet that they remained out of whack in the sense that the prices would continue to out inflate wages in which case I was better off in than out.... I was right so far as analyzing current trends but not in the larger macro economic sense that I was better off not buying high.... but so was most of the country. It's the same as when they say investing should be done via Dollar Cost Averaging but the fact is, that's now how how home ownership works.... There's just a terrible amount of debt that can not possibly be worked through in a short time horizon for the entire economy to be lifted in near term fashion.

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