Monday, August 8, 2016

Response to The Dismal Gambit

(See: Just Above Sunset: The Dismal Gambit)

You might be forgiven for thinking Donald Trump himself, having graduated with a degree in economics from Wharton, could be called an “economist", but according to Wikipedia, "A generally accepted interpretation in academia is that an economist is one who has attained a Ph.D. in economics, teaches economic science, and has published literature in a field of economics.” Trump has no such doctorate degree, nor even a masters; tellingly, his Wharton economics degree is a BS.

But another member of Trump's new “Economic Advisory Council”, often referred to as an economist but also without a doctorate (although he, at least, has a masters in economics, from George Mason University), is Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation.

Moore’s interesting history in economics includes ten years as a fellow at the Libertarian think-tank, Cato Institute, and a stint as senior economist under Dick Armey on the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, where Moore, according to Forbes, helped create the “FairTax” proposal, which, had it ever gotten out of committee, promised to effectively replace all federal taxes with a consumption tax — with supporters contending that it would decrease tax burdens, and critics agreeing, but claiming it would just shift those burdens from the rich to the middle class.

Moore is also a buddy of Arthur Laffer, who’s drawing on a napkin of what was later laughingly named the “Laffer Curve” became the prime illustration of how tax cuts should pay for themselves, a concept that has been since roundly debunked.

In 1999, Moore co-founded the “Club for Growth”, a political action committee of which, he said, "We want to be seen as the tax cut enforcer in the [Republican] party”, but was ousted from the presidency by the board in 2004 after saying snotty things in the press about president George W Bush, among other people.

And then, there’s this:
In a 2014 Kansas City Star opinion piece entitled "What's the matter with Paul Krugman?”, Moore responded to Krugman’s opinion piece entitled "Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas." In his piece, Moore claimed that job creation had been superior in low-taxation states during the five years following the recession ending June 2009. After substantial factual errors were uncovered in Moore's opinion piece, the Kansas City Star indicated that it would no longer print Moore's work without "thorough fact-checking."
Basically, Moore claimed in the article that "No-income-tax Texas gained 1 million jobs over the last five years. Oops", when it actually gained less than half-a-million, and that "Florida gained hundreds of thousands of jobs while New York lost jobs. Oops", when, in truth, as the newspaper put it, "Over that time ... Florida lost 461,500 and New York gained 75,900."


But wait! There’s more!
Jonathan Chait, in his New York magazine column, in response to Moore's February 15, 2015 Washington Times column on Obamacare, stated "Perhaps the most revealing aspect of Moore’s column is the fact that, five years after its passage, the chief economist of the most influential conservative think tank in the United States lacks even a passing familiarity with its fiscal objectives".
So yeah, you could hardly expect any presidential candidate as controversial and exciting as Donald Trump to have nothing but boring old competent fuddy-duddies any less ditzy than himself in his top circle of economic advisors. Where would be the fun in that?

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