Conservative “Economists” on Debt Ceiling

Economic ApologeticsThe University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business did a survey of top economists on the issue of the Debt Ceiling. They asked whether those surveyed agreed or disagreed with the following statement, “Because all federal spending must be approved by both houses of Congress and the executive branch, a separate debt ceiling that has to be increased periodically creates unneeded uncertainty and can potentially lead to worse financial outcomes.” Of these people, 84% agreed or strongly agreed.

But you might ask: what about the idiot conservative “top” economists? What about evil conservative “top” economist Glenn Hubbard? I don’t intend to be mean here. It is just that Hubbard’s entire career has been one big money grab. Being rich is far more important to him than doing good work. And he’s right to make this “sacrifice” because he was still Mitt Romney’s top economic guy and he is still asked what he thinks by reporters at the Washington Post.

Case in point, Zachary A. Goldfarb at Wonk Blog ask Hubbard and three other conservative economists what they thought about the whole debt ceiling business. I have very little respect for these men, but even I was surprised at the apologetics that each one of them provided when asked about a government default.

Glenn Hubbard’s answer is telling. It really isn’t about economics at all. Instead, it is just a political attack on the president:

While decidedly not ideal, I believe that 11 of the past 14 permanent increases in the debt ceiling have been accompanied by legislation related to the federal deficit or debt. In a world without rigorous budget rules and with little White House leadership on the budget, I anticipate that the debt ceiling discussion will encompass a deficit/spending restraint discussion. A better model would be for the President to submit the additional tax increases he envisions to finance his spending and for the Republican Congressional leaders to submit specific gradual changes in entitlement programs. Barring that better route, we will likely see a discussion around the debt ceiling, even though there should be no chance that the nation will default on its obligations.

But even while being political, he isn’t accurate. There is no way that the Republicans will name their demands for spending cuts. The president already has stated what tax increases he wants. What’s more, he’s mentioned entitlement cuts. But the Republicans? Nothing.

Whenever I hear the term “conservative economist,” I think of “Nazi science” or “Jewish anthropology.” These aren’t real things. Scientists are scientists. Non-scientists are non-scientists. But in the case of people like Hubbard and Keith Hennessey, we should stop pretending and just call them what they are: conservative apologists.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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