Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Voodoo from the Left Let's Leave the Magical Thinking to the Republicans

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Voodoo from the Left Let's Leave the Magical Thinking to the Republicans

Article excerpt

One difference between America's two big political parties involves the willingness to indulge economic fantasies. Republicans routinely engage in deep voodoo, making outlandish claims about the positive effects of tax cuts for the rich. Democrats tend to be cautious about promising too much, as illustrated recently by the way Obamacare, which conservatives insisted would be a budget- buster, actually ended up being significantly cheaper than projected.

But is all that changing?

On Wednesday four former Democratic chairs of the president's Council of Economic Advisers - three who served under Barack Obama, one who served under Bill Clinton - released a stinging open letter to Bernie Sanders and Gerald Friedman, a University of Massachusetts professor who has been a major source of the Sanders campaign's numbers. The economists called out the campaign for citing "extreme claims" by Mr. Friedman that "exceed even the most grandiose predictions by Republicans" and could "undermine the credibility of the progressive economic agenda."

That's harsh. And correct.

The claims come from Mr. Friedman's analysis of the Sanders economic program. It's not the campaign's official assessment, but it's been highly praised by campaign officials.

The Republican candidates have been rightly mocked for their escalating claims that they can achieve incredible economic growth, starting with Jeb Bush's promise to double growth to 4 percent. But Mr. Friedman outdoes the GOP by claiming that the Sanders plan would produce 5.3 percent growth a year over the next decade.

Even more telling is Mr. Friedman's jobs projection, which has the employed share of American adults soaring all the way back to what it was in 2000. That may sound possible - except that by 2026 more than a quarter of U.S. adults over 20 will be 65 and older, compared with 17 percent in 2000.

Sorry, but there's just no way to justify this stuff.

Still, these are numbers on a program that Mr. Sanders, even if he made it to the White House, would have little chance of enacting. So do they matter?

Yes, for several reasons.

One is that, as the economists warn, fuzzy math from the left would make it impossible to effectively criticize conservative voodoo. …

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