Barack, McCain, and the Economy

John McCain gets ridiculed for saying he doesn’t know much about the economy. To be honest, I think both candidates are Palin-esque when it comes to that issue, in that they speak in generalities or cliches. On foreign affairs, they display a grasp of nuance. They sound like they could hold their own in an academic seminar! But, on the economy, all you hear from them are cliches. “The rich need to pay their fair share!” “We’re in this mess because of deregulation!” “Tax cuts stimulate economic growth!” “You can’t ship jobs overseas!” “Protectionism doesn’t work! Hoover did that, and look what happened.”

When I read economic books, I usually don’t understand what I’m reading. I practically need a dictionary to come close! But I don’t need one when I’m listening to John McCain and Barack Obama. They say things I could come up with!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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6 Responses to Barack, McCain, and the Economy

  1. Anonymous says:

    Maybe they are both just afraid to say anything concrete because, no matter what the plan would be, it would be unpopular among one segment or the other of potential voters. Just a thought. Janice


  2. nebcanuck says:

    Two thoughts. First, I think that anon has the workings of a good point. If nothing else, I think that true economic jargon wouldn’t appeal to voters simply because they wouldn’t understand it. It’s not surprising when they don’t start spewing hard core chemistry when it comes to the environment, nor should it be surprising when they’re more toned down about the economy, would be my guess.

    Also, though, I think that part of the reasoning is that both are discussing the basics of the economy, rather than the specific situations. Obama has made this election one where the fundamentals are being challenged. Economic talk largely presupposes that the market is a divine force, but Obama wants to take that idea and run with it, showing that the Republicans are living that way and that’s the cause of the economic crisis. Regardless of whether it’s true or not, the simplistic language makes sense in the context, since we’re not talking semantics, we’re talking basics.


  3. James Pate says:

    Thanks, both of you, for your comments.

    Part of it is not wanting to offend people. I know that’s why many politicians aren’t that specific about where they want to cut. Part of it is to be understandable to the voters, who may not understand economic jargon. I myself get confused when I hear Bernanke speak!

    It’s strange to me that politicians are usually more sophisticated when they talk about international affairs. That’s just my impression. Usually, I feel, “Man, I’m sure glad I’m not running the show on foreign policy!” But, for the economy, my conclusion is usually, “Yeah, all I have to do is cut taxes and regulate the financial sector, and everything would turn out all right.”

    Regarding the fundamentals of the economy, I wonder how Obama wants to change them. Personally, I don’t see much substance in his attacks on McCain’s comment–he’s just making a talking point to portray McCain as out-of-touch. Does Obama support regulation? So do many politicians–Republican and Democrat alike. Maybe his protectionism can count as a radical challenge to the basics–I don’t know.


  4. nebcanuck says:

    He’s certainly portraying something as radical when it’s not particularly so, as far as I can tell!

    In Europe, regulation is pretty standard practice. But in the States, Free Market is still the rule. McCain, at least, is still building his economic policies around cutting taxes and cutting costs. But Obama’s position tends towards the more socialistic tendencies of Europe, which, I would argue, lends itself well to more simplistic terms while introducing the core ideas. It’s only after the fact that you get into the whackload of painful economic terms that are required to describe Health Care’s impact in specific financial terms! 😉


  5. James Pate says:

    True, even though Bruce Bartlett makes a pretty convincing argument that there are now more regulations under Bush. But he’s probably cut some, while increasing others.

    So are you more conservative than your dad? That’s kind of the impression I’m getting, but I may be wrong.


  6. nebcanuck says:

    I’m more conservative than my dad in a lot of ways, although fiscally is probably the least of these. I actually do tend towards the ideal of bottom-up financial building rather than top-down. But I’m a lot more socially and morally conservative than my dad, and that inevitably bleeds into my political ideals to some degree.


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