Monday, March 12, 2012

Why Larry Kotlikoff Is Not Getting My Vote for President

An economist is running for President with this opening:

Our country is at a critical juncture. Twenty-nine million Americans are out of work or underemployed. For most of those with jobs, real wage growth is a distant memory. Younger Americans are searching for the American dream and finding no-help-wanted signs. And millions of retirees are reeling from massive losses they've taken on their homes and life savings. The few doing well are doing very well, with income and wealth growing more unequal over time.

With such an outstanding diagnosis of the big economic issues, what progressive economist wouldn’t get behind his candidacy? Well this one - after I read his various “purple” plans, which all seem to be about austerity designed to eliminate what he claims is a long-term fiscal gap in excess of $200 trillion.

I’ll concede that we likely need a balanced approach of long-term spending reductions and more tax revenues and his proposal to have a progressive consumption tax is intriguing. Note, however, that extra revenues amounts to only 15 percent of his proposed long-term austerity, whereas Social Security is supposed to make up about 25 percent of the shortfall. This is from someone who correctly notes that retirees have lost much of their life savings while the elite are doing very well. Now putting 60 percent of the burden on health care reforms might sound right – but his website is short on specifics of how he chooses to accomplish this goal.

But none of this constitutes the main reason I’m not voting for Dr. Kotlikoff. The main reason goes to his point that we are far below full employment. So why does his campaign focus on austerity? We might as well be voting for Mitch McConnell for President.

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