People like Robert Reich, who try to back up the claims of President Obama and Vice President Biden that “economic advisers across the political spectrum support Obama’s plan,” have managed to come up with two names of economists who support the stimulus plan and would not be regarded as left of center: Martin Feldstein of Harvard, a former top economic adviser to President Reagan, and Mark Zandi of Moody's, who was an adviser to John McCain last fall. And now the Washington Post has blown both of those names out of the water. Leaving -- by my count -- exactly zero libertarian or conservative economists on that much-touted spectrum. As the Post notes this morning:
Democrats lost Feldstein on Thursday when the Harvard professor published a Washington Post op-ed declaring the House bill "an $800 billion mistake" laden with ineffective provisions.
As for Zandi,
The 49-year-old economist is a Democratic dream, a former adviser to GOP presidential candidate John McCain who advocates spending over tax cuts as the best way to deliver a quick jolt.
And Democrats have touted him a lot:
In floor speeches and news conferences, Democratic lawmakers confer on Zandi an authority once bestowed on Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman.
"I'm just saying what Mark Zandi from Moody's, an adviser to John McCain, is saying: You have to have a package of this robustness if you're going to make a difference," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a recent news conference. ...
"I think [he] is a Republican. I am pretty sure he is," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said of Zandi after a recent meeting. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) described Zandi on Fox News as a "conservative Republican." Defending the bill's sizable spending during a recent CNBC interview, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) responded: "I think if you listen to economists like Mark Zandi, who was the economic adviser to John McCain in the presidential election, he has said this is the right mix."
But wait! Post reporter Shailagh Murray actually asked Zandi about his politics.
"I'm a registered Democrat," he acknowledged.
He signed up with McCain when Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the candidate's chief economic aide and a longtime friend, asked him to join the campaign's diverse economic advisory team. "My policy is I will help any policymaker who asks, whether they be a Republican or a Democrat," Zandi said.
So . . . the count of Republican or conservative or libertarian economists who support Obama's biggest-spending-bill-in-world-history stands at . . . zero. And hundreds of economists have declared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and other papers that they don't support the plan. It's time for politicians, pundits, and journalists to stop making this claim.