I am jumping the gun as this has not yet been publicly announced, but on Sunday about half of the former group, "Economists for Edwards," agreed at the urging of James Galbraith and Clyde Prestowitz to endorse Barack Obama for president. A condition of this, which I insisted on as a condition for signing on, was that it be made clear in our statement that we would be working to change some of Obama's policy positions, particularly on health care and social security, to become more like those supported by Edwards. There was considerable debate in the group on all this, and about half are not signing on. However, none of those not signing on expressed that they favored Hillary instead, even though some favored some of her policy positions.
Regarding the social security issue, I would like to make public a table that I have cooked up with invaluable input from Bruce Webb. It makes clear the degree to which reality in the last decade has been much closer to the low cost (LC) projections by the Social Security Trustees, the projection under which the system never runs a deficit ever, in contrast with the widely publicized intermediate cost (IC) projections which give deficits starting in 2017 and "bankruptcy" in 2041 (after which recipients would only be getting about 120% of what ones are now in real terms), thus reinforcing the case for doing nothing. The numbers are annual percentage terms, and I think it is otherwise pretty self-explanatory. The only year that reality was below the IC projection was the recession year of 2001, and it exceeded the LC projection in six out of the ten years. I also note that final GDP numbers for 2007 are not in, but social security balances came in above the IC projection by $3 billion, but below the LC projection by $12 billion.
Year IC projection LC projection Actual real GDP change
1997 2.5% 3.2% 3.8%
1998 2.5% 3.1% 3.9%
1999 2.6% 3.4% 4.0%
2000 3.5% 3.9% 5.1%
2001 3.1% 3.5% 1.0%
2002 0.7% 1.6% 2.4%
2003 2.9% 3.8% 3.1%
2004 4.4% 4.9% 4.4%
2005 3.6% 3.9% 3.6%
2006 3.4% 3.8% 4.7%
1997-2006 average IC = 2.92% LC = 3.51% Actual = 3.60%
2001-2006 average IC = 3.02% LC = 3.58% Actual = 3.37%