Who's got the best plan for bringing America's economy back from the doldrums? Well, according to more than 400 prominent economists—including five Nobel laureates—it's Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
The economy has been in the tank since before Barack Obama became president, as he cheerfully reminds everyone at every available opportunity. Under his leadership, however, things have gotten worse by almost every available measure.
Unemployment has exceeded 8 percent for 42 straight months, a post-war record. Somewhere between 3 and 4 million people have given up looking for work entirely, making the "real" unemployment number something close to 13 or 14 percent. The economy is barely growing. Middle-class incomes are down. The price of gasoline and the number of Americans living in poverty are both up.
Now Obama likes to say his economic plan is working--which is true if what it was supposed to produce was more unemployment, more poverty, higher gas and food prices, more people on food stamps, and more federal debt.
Real economists, however, differ on what the objective of economic policy should be. The economists who signed on to the pro-Romney statement said, "We enthusiastically endorse Governor Mitt Romney's economic plan to create jobs and restore economic growth while returning America to its tradition of economic freedom."
Romney's plan, they said, "is based on proven principles: a more contained and less intrusive federal government, a greater reliance on the private sector, a broad expansion of opportunity without government favors for special interests, and respect for the rule of law including the decision-making authority of states and localities."
Among the positions they endorse:
- Reduce marginal tax rates on business and wage incomes and broaden the tax base to increase investment, jobs, and living standards.
- End the exploding federal debt by controlling the growth of spending so federal spending does not exceed 20 percent of the economy.
- Restructure regulation to end "too big to fail," improve credit availability to entrepreneurs and small businesses, and increase regulatory accountability, and ensure that all regulations pass rigorous benefit-cost tests.
- Improve our Social Security and Medicare programs by reducing their growth to sustainable levels, ensuring their viability over the long term, and protecting those in or near retirement.
- Reform our healthcare system to harness market forces and thereby reduce costs and increase quality, empowering patients and doctors, rather than the federal bureaucracy.
- Promote energy policies that increase domestic production, enlarge the use of all western hemisphere resources, encourage the use of new technologies, end wasteful subsidies, and rely more on market forces and less on government planners.
Among the economists signing on to the statement are Nobel laureates Gary Becker, Robert Lucas, Robert Mundell, Edward Prescott, and Myron Scholes. Others have received the highest honors available for their academic work, some have advised U.S. policymakers, and all are longtime champions of economic freedom. It's a serious group of people who have a major impact on the study and teaching of economics in the United States and globally and who, let it be said, know what they are talking about.
"In sum," they say, the Romney economic plan "is far superior for creating economic growth and jobs than the actions and interventions President Obama has taken or plans to take in the future."