Jim Lindgren of the Volokh Conspiracy thinks McCain's economic agenda is "ambitious," and is surprised by its "aggressiveness." Mark Thoma, on the other hand, sees a total "lack of action" on McCain's part: "If that's the best he can do, then he has clearly demonstrated his weakness on economic issues rather than countering any criticism." This one is a no-brainer: Thoma wins hands down. What is Lindgren smoking? There's nothing remotely "ambitious" in McCain's economic agenda. As I was reading the transcript of McCain's speech, I was half-expecting him to blurt out, "Belated April Fools'! Now in all seriousness, here are my real economic proposals." But sadly, these are actually his economic proposals:

  • Temporarily reduce the gas tax for the upcoming driving season. First of all, you're not the president yet. Second of all, if you want everyone to like you, why not just take the whole country out for an ice-cream cone?
  • Have the Education Department "work with" the states to support student loans. I'd actually like to see that happen, because then we'd get to hear 50 governors say "Go f*** yourself" in unison.
  • Cut the corporate tax rate to 25%. Whoa, watch out for this crazy guy! Seeing as all three remaining candidates have said that we should cut the corporate tax rate at one point during the campaign, that's about as controversial as Mother's Day.
  • Double the tax exemption for dependent children. This is not a bad idea, but as Mark Thoma notes, "if you have children, and if your tax rate is, say, 20%, this is only worth $700." Don't spend it all in one place.
  • Suspend all increases in discretionary spending for agencies other than those that cover the military and veterans for one year. Go ahead, deny Health and Human Services funding for expensive, yet potentially life-saving, medical research. I dare you. This isn't even a real proposal. It's just red meat for Republican campaign crowds.
If you've admitted that you don't know much about economics, then it's probably a good idea to come up with an economic agenda that won't make the vast majority of economists laugh. It's just a thought.


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