Advising the Candidates: Who Advises the 2008 Presidential Candidates on Economic Policy?

By Novak, Robert D. | The International Economy, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

Advising the Candidates: Who Advises the 2008 Presidential Candidates on Economic Policy?


Novak, Robert D., The International Economy


This lineup pretty well freezes the current outlook for both Republicans and Democrats without a sign now of a dating new outlook for any candidate (such as in 1980, when Jack Kemp and his adviser Jude Wanniski brought Ronald Reagan to the supply-side table). Nevertheless, the nature of the advisers introduces nuances in the economic platforms of the candidates. Here's the lay of the land:

Democrats

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Hillary Clinton: An all-star team of her husband's economic counselors during his presidency, augmented by a couple of former Congressional leaders favoring higher taxes and protectionism.

Barack Obama: Academic economists, not familiar names on the national scene, who are left of center but are more original and not as conventionally liberal as Clinton's advisers.

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John Edwards: A multi-millionaire former cable executive gives populist advice to the multi-millionaire trial lawyer who follows the populist line.

Republicans

Mitt Romney: Assembled well-known team, mainly supply-siders who include architects of George W. Bush's tax cuts and a former Congressional lieutenant of Jack Kemp.

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Rudy Giuliani: Conservative, supply-side economists maneuvered the former Republican heretic back into the acceptable GOP fold.

John McCain: A father of the supply-side tax movement and a close George W. Bush ally have helped change his former anti-tax cut stance.

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Fred Thompson: Brought on the chief economic adviser in Bush's 2000 campaign who was booted from his administration for dispensing too much truth.

SENATOR HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON OF NEW YORK (D)

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In 1992 at age 34, a former aide to New York Governor Mario Cuomo named Gene Sperling climbed above better-known economic savants around presidential candidate Bill Clinton to draft his campaign economic plan. He rose to the Cabinet-level post of National Economic Director in the Clinton Administration and now is the key economic adviser to Senator Clinton's campaign. He is currently a senior fellow at the left-wing Center for American Progress (while also serving on the Council for Foreign Relations staff).

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Also providing economic advice is financier Roger C. Altman, a charter member FOB ("Friend of Bill"), who served as President Clinton's Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. He advised Senator John Kerry in his 2004 campaign and might have been Treasury Secretary in a Kerry Administration. Altman, chairman and co-CEO of Evercore Partners investment bankers, serves on the board (with Robert Rubin) of the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project, which pours out health care and tax proposals. Former Treasury Secretary Rubin, chairman of Citigroup's executive committee, also advises Mrs. Clinton. Rounding out her economic advisory team are two big-name alumni of Congress: former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

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Sperling emerged from obscurity during the 1992 campaign as principal architect of Bill Clinton's economic plan. It featured a soak-the-rich tax increase that passed the Senate and House by one vote in each chamber, followed by Republican victories in the next three Congressional elections. Sperling is prescribing the same medicine for 2009, and the other Clinton advisers agree--as does the Senator herself. "You raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to create tax relief for the less wealthy," she said this year.

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There is similar agreement among Clinton and all her advisers to oppose any basic reform in Social Security. The Senator has called President Bush's proposal for personal accounts a "risky scheme" that "would undermine the promise of Social Security. …

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