Bill Clinton Had A Different View on Economists in 1992


How things have changed since 1992. Back in 1992, Bill Clinton cited endorsements from economists as reason to support him in a campaign ad (video above–hat tip to David Kurtz).

In 2008 Hillary Clinton not only ignores the economists after she adopted John McCain’s idea for a gas tax holiday. She even brags about ignoring economists.

A group of economists has responded. Bloomberg reports:

More than 200 economists, including four Nobel prize winners, signed a letter rejecting proposals by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John McCain to offer a summertime gas-tax holiday.

Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz, former Congressional Budget Office Director Alice Rivlin and 2007 Nobel winner Roger Myerson are among those who signed the letter calling proposals to temporarily lift the tax a bad idea. Another is Richard Schmalensee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who was member of President George H.W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.

The moratorium would mostly benefit oil companies while increasing the federal budget deficit and reducing funding for the government highway maintenance trust fund, the economists said.

“Suspending the federal tax on gasoline this summer is a bad idea, and we oppose it,” the letter says. Economist Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution is among those circulating the letter. Aaron said that while he supports Obama, the list includes Republicans and Clinton supporters.

This issue has allowed Barack Obama to create a sharp contrast between himself and his two like-minded opponents after going through several weeks in which the race was distracted by non-issues ranging from flag pins to Reverend Wright. This issue highlights both the weakness of Clinton’s economic views and her willingness to say anything to get votes. Obama, and not McCain, also shows who the real straight talker is.

David Brooks also noted this difference between Obama and Clinton, accusing Clinton of “shameless spin.”

She peddled her sham gas-tax holiday and repeated her attempt to blame Indiana’s job losses on outsourcing and Nafta. Stephanopoulos asked her to name a single economist who thinks a tax-holiday plan would work, and the daughter of Wellesley and Yale took the chance to shove the geeks into their lockers: “I’m not going to put my lot in with economists.”

When Stephanopoulos pointed out that Paul Krugman, a Times columnist, has raised doubts about the plan, Clinton lumped Krugman in with the Bush administration and said she wasn’t going to listen to the people responsible for the last seven years.

This wasn’t just shameless spin, it was shamelessness with a purpose. Clinton signaled that she wasn’t going to concede even an inch to the vast elitist conspiracy. She wasn’t going to feel guilty about ignoring the evidence. She was going to stomp on it, flay it and leave it a twisted mass of jelly quivering on the ground. She was going to perform the primordial duty of an alpha dog leader — helping one’s own.