Laurence Kotlikoff, the Boston University economics professor best known for his dire warnings about the fiscal health of the United States, thinks this country needs an economist leading it—specifically, himself.
Kotlikoff, 61, announced his candidacy for a third-party presidency on his website, kotlikoff2012.org, based on a platform that focuses on job creation. His first act as president, he says, would be to bring 1,000 top chief executives into an auditorium and agree to hire people, to address that fact that 29 million people are either out of work or under-employed. "Starting in September 2008, we've had coordinated firing. So now we need people to hire collectively," he says. If companies hire new workers simultaneously, then they will also create new potential customers, which will further reinforce economic growth, he says.
"The mantra of the president, from this moment on, has to be 'hire, hire, hire,' and it's every employer's patriotic obligation and in their self-interest," Kotlikoff says. He attributes the current lack of job growth to "coordination failure," an economic concept that refers to groups failing to make optimal decisions because they are not working together. "This is where an economist can have an advantage," he adds.
Politicians, says Kotlikoff, are failing to fix the country's financial problems, partly because they don't fully grasp the root causes of them. "The country is fiscally broke, we have a tax system that's an embarrassment, and we have a financial system that has yet to be reformed. None of the causes of the crash have really been addressed," he says.
Kotlikoff acknowledges his areas of weakness. "We have major foreign policy concerns and terrorist threats. I'm not saying I would do a better job on those issues than President Obama or Mitt Romney. But I understand that we have to act very strategically when it comes to applying our military and we can't continue to engage in nation-building and get bogged down trying to achieve things that are not achievable… We have in large part squandered our resources fighting unwinnable wars," he says.
But he says his lack of political experience also serves as an asset, adding, "We need somebody who's not a politician, who can actually fix America."