Wed Jul 25th, 2012 at 06:26:55 AM EST
This was linked on the front page of Daily Kos, and I thought it might be of particular interest over here - especially since I haven't seen a LQD in a while.
The US Economic Policy Debate is a Sham
Watching Democrats and Republicans hash out their differences in the public arena, it's easy to get the impression that there's a deep disagreement among reasonable people about how to manage the U.S. economy.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In reality, there's remarkable consensus among mainstream economists, including those from the left and right, on most major macroeconomic issues. The debate in Washington about economic policy is phony. It's manufactured. And it's entirely political.
The consensus isn't the result of a faux poll of left-wing ideologues. Rather, the findings come from the Economic Experts Panel run by Booth's Initiative on Global Markets. It's a recurring survey of about 40 economists from around the U.S. It includes Democrats, Republicans and independent academics from the top economics departments in the country. The only things that unite them are their first-rate credentials and their interest in public policy.
Let's be clear about what the economists' remarkable consensus means. They aren't purporting to know all the right answers. Rather, they agree on the best reading of murky evidence. The folks running the survey understand this uncertainty, and have asked the economists to rate their confidence in their answers on a scale of 1 to 10. Strikingly, the consensus looks even stronger when the responses are weighted according to confidence.
The debate in Washington has become completely unmoored from this consensus, and in a particular direction: Angry Republicans have pushed their representatives to adopt positions that are at odds with the best of modern economic thinking. That may be good politics, but it's terrible policy.
The disjunction between the state of economic knowledge and our current political debate has important consequences. Right now, millions of people are suffering due to high unemployment. Our textbooks are filled with possible solutions. Instead of debating them seriously, congressional Republicans are blocking even those policy proposals that strike most economists as uncontroversial.
The opening paragraph reads like they want to contrast wise and all-knowing economists with those silly politicians, but when they get into the meat of the article, it becomes clear that they're really slamming the economic idiocy of the Republican party.