Why Does Brad DeLong Think Robert – Not Paul’s Brother – Samuelson Understands Economics?

Robert Samuelson goes goofy again:

By contrast, no one can claim that McCain lacks convictions. He has often defied Republican Party orthodoxy, and his credentials to lead a centrist coalition are stronger than Obama’s.

McCain has been a flip-flopper who often panders to the worst of the rightwing tendencies of his party. I guess this Samuelson claim was just too easy for Brad who decided instead to go after this attack on Obama:

his actual agenda is highly partisan and undermines many of his stated goals. He wants to stimulate economic growth, but his hostility toward trade agreements threatens export-led growth (which is now beginning). He advocates greater energy independence but pretends this can occur without more domestic drilling for oil and natural gas.


These are, as we all know, extremely weak examples of “high partisanship” and “blatant contradiction.” Energy independence does not require subsidizing domestic drilling if it is a subordinate goal in the context of moving toward a less carbon-based economy. Whether we get export-led growth depends 100% on the value of the dollar and 0% on whether we conclude new trade agreements. Samuelson knows that these are extremely weak examples of “blatant contradiction” and “high partisanship.” But you try to delude your readers with the ammunition you have, not the ammunition you wish you had.

In my opinion, Brad is being too kind to Mr. Samuelson. Samuelson often writes sheer nonsense about economics so one has to wonder if he doesn’t really believe his own nonsense. The real goofiness comes in the final call for voting for McCain:

Steadfastness and good judgment are qualities we value in a president, and McCain has often displayed these. He was early and correct in his criticism of the Bush administration’s conduct of the Iraq war and of its treatment of prisoners. He has been consistent in his opposition to high and wasteful federal spending. But good judgment must accompany steadfastness, and there are enough instances of McCain’s bad judgment to make you wonder which would prevail. So, vote for McBama. Though their differences on Iraq are clear, neither has forthrightly addressed some of America’s obvious domestic problems — costly government retirement programs, immigration, our energy appetite. For me, McCain does have one provisional and accidental advantage. By most appraisals, the Republicans will get slaughtered in the congressional elections, and I have a visceral dislike of one-party government.

So let’s see – Samuelson wants President McCain to propose the same Social Security deform nonsense that President Bush proposed in 2005 so to see this shot down by Congress again just as Samuelson wants a continuation of the current failed Iraq strategy. Like I said – goofy!