…at least against Brad DeLong. Stanford University contains the conservative think tank, the Hoover Institution. Why have 2 conservatives backed out of public debate on economics against Brad DeLong?
- Kevin Hassett refused to debate Brad Delong at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research Obama vs. McCain Debate on September 24th. I see that Professor DeLong’s role was taken by Peter Henry.
- John Taylor, former Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs under GW Bush (and creator of the Taylor Rule) pulled out of the October 16th debate at the Commonwealth Club, “the nation’s oldest and largest public affairs forum, bringing together its more than 18,000 members for over 400 annual events on topics ranging across politics, culture, society and the economy.” Taylor’s office could not find a replacement.
Why does John McCain have so few active defenders in the economics profession? The campaign got 90-100 to sign a petition in support of him. Several of them live in Northern California. From DeLong’s comments I see these names: Michael Boskin, James Sweeney, Clifford Tan, George Schultz, Eric Hanushek, James Miller, John Cogan, and Dino Falaschetti and Charles Wolf. But preparing remarks is another matter.
Professor DeLong is an awesome debater, more so than any quivering conservative. I disbelieve.
All economists are liberals. False, see the petition above.
It’s not worth a conservative economist’s time to defend a Republican Presidential candidate. I disagree, and so did Jim Miller who debated DeLong in 1996 and Michael Boskin who debated DeLong in 2000. Dick Schmalensee, who debated in DeLong in 2004 is a special case.
Professor DeLong believes that ideas matter. Kevin Hassett dropped out because he was afraid that DeLong would bring up Dow 36,000, a bullish tome published in 2000 at the peak of the stock market.
John Taylor may have been worried by DeLong’s October 2 blog entry:
Or perhaps all of McCain’s attacks on the Bush Administration placed Taylor, a Bush appointee, in an untenable position. Still, Taylor did pull out within a week of the actual debate, so I’m not sure this explanation makes sense.
McCain’s economic policies are too confusing to get a grasp on. McCain calls for deeper tax cuts than George Bush did – but McCain insists that he is not George Bush. His positioning during the financial crisis was embarrassing, erratic and unhelpful.
Defending John McCain’s economic policies in a forum where your views are subject to scrutiny and your reputation is on the line is too much to bear.
Obama and the Democratic Party simply have a superior track record.
Or perhaps serious conservative economists have given up hope that an intellectually defendable economic policy will ever take flight from a Republican administration. An intellectually defendable economic policy does not mean “Tax cuts forever” (ref: Bruce Bartlett). You don’t get even a plausible growth benefit unless tax cuts are matched by spending reductions. (And since lower taxes have both an income and substitution effect, the effects on labor supply are unclear theoretically, and I understand small empirically.)
I don’t know which if any of these explanations apply. It’s a puzzle. This is not a critique of the McCain campaign: these sorts of events occur without their sponsorship or approval. Rather, I see it as a reflection of the collapse and demolition of the intellectual support for modern conservatism, and an indicator of the hard work ahead of us. (I wasn’t sure where to put this: mods can move the thread with my approval.)