The Corner

Good Economics but Bad Politics?

On Wednesday, NPR’s Planet Money had a very good segment that listed six policies that economists from all sides of the political spectrum could agree on but no politicians would ever dare to run with. Here are the economists:

  • Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and widely published blo “You could probably describe me as left of center. It’d be fair.”

  • Russ Roberts, George Mason University economics professor. “In the grand spectrum of economic policy, I’m a pretty hard core free market guy. I’m probably called a libertarian.”

  • Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at Harvard University’s Department of Health Policy and Management. We simply called her a centrist on the show.

  • Luigi Zingales, professor of entrepreneurship and finance and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “What I like to say is that I’m pro-market, but not necessarily pro-business.”

  • Robert Frank, professor of management and economics at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. “I’m a registered Democrat. I think of myself as a radical pragmatist.”

Here are the policies:

  • Eliminate the mortgage interest tax deduction.

  • End the tax deduction companies get for providing health-care to employees.

  • Eliminate the corporate income tax.

  • Eliminate all income and payroll taxes. All of them.

  • Tax carbon emissions.

  • Legalize marijuana.

According to the story, no politicians who plan on winning would run with these policies. (I think five of the six policies are improving the odds of politicians who are looking for my vote). You can listen here.

Do you agree that these policies represent a death sentence for politicians?

By the way, I am big fan of two of the economists on the list: The first one is Russ Roberts of George Mason University and Cafe Hayek. The second one is Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago who just recently published a must-read book called A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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