Friday, February 1, 2013

The reason Obama hasn't "explained Keynesianism" is because Obama is not a Keynesian

Beverly Mann has some really great points here about how in light of last quarter's GDP report we really need to have a better public dialogue about economics. But there's a simple reason why this (probably) won't happen. Obama is (probably) not a Keynesian. If he is than he's a wimpy, politically opportunistic one. I think instead he's a probably not wimpy, probably not (excessively) politically opportunistic non-Keynesian who is not completely hopeless (i.e. ARRA).

There's a good reason why the administration, Congressional Democrats, and Congressional Republicans have been obsessed with the public debt and have virtually ignored the jobs deficit: they are not Keynesians. In fact except for the ones running around talking about Hayek they don't have much of any guiding lights when it comes to economic theory.

They're politicians. When there's no immediate cost they love to spend money. When there's a big deficit they worry a lot about the deficit. When they're smart enough to listen to people who know what they're talking about and there isn't a crisis at hand they can produce tolerably good policy. When circumstances aren't as ideal, it's a mixed bag and it largely depends on what other political headwinds are blowing.

This is not to say the message that Mann is promoting isn't a good message to promote. I firmly believe it is. I'm just don't think Obama is Keynesian-in-chief, so I'm not holding my breath for it.


  1. The point is that the Republicans are incoherent. Obama does not have to involve himself beyond from time to time pointing out that the Republican position is incoherent.

  2. I doubt that even those who talk about Hayek really have a "guiding light." They talk about Hayek, but I'd question just how much about Hayek they actually know. It's one of the problems with politicians dropping names. I know libertarians would jump on the opportunity if a politician cited Keynes, but the most fair reaction, I think, would be to assume what we assume when they talk about Hayek: they only know a name and a distorted gist.

  3. The guiding light for the Dems is Rubin, I think. Or maybe Andrew Jackson. ;)


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