I guess we’re going to have to make a series out of the obvious panic of the Democratic establishment over the ascent of Bernie Sanders. Now Democrats have rolled out their senior economic luminaries to blast a widely reported “study” that claimed Sanders’s socialism would lead to an economic boom in America.
The study, by UMass/Amherst economics professor Gerald Friedman, asserts that median income would soar by more than $22,000, 26 million jobs would be created and unemployment would fall to 3.8 percent. And that’s just from Sanders’s Medicare-for-All proposal alone. Imagine what going Full-Venezuela could do! The Sanders campaign pounced on this result, declaring it to be “outstanding work.”
A couple of observations before we enjoy the Democratic panic. First, I think we can safely assume that Prof. Gerald Friedman is no relation to Milton Friedman. I’m not even going to check it out. Second, every UMass/Amherst economics student who took courses from Friedman should demand a tuition refund immediately. Third, seriously Amherst? Would you hire a flat-earther for your geography department? Why would you hire one for your economics department?
This is too much even for Mother Jones! Kevin Drum writes:
I’ve generally tried to go easy on Bernie Sanders. I like his vision, and I like his general attitude toward Wall Street. But this is insane. . .
WTF? Per-capita GDP will grow 4.5 percent? And not just in a single year: Friedman is projecting that it will grow by an average of 4.5 percent every year for the next decade. Productivity growth will double compared to CBO projections—and in case you’re curious, there has never been a 10-year period since World War II in which productivity grew 3.18 percent. Not one.
Austan Goolsbee, Obama’s chief economic adviser in his first term, told the New York Times that the Sanders economic agenda was “puppies and rainbows . . . they’ve evolved into magic flying puppies with winning Lotto tickets tied to their collars.”
Paul Krugman kicked his cat and pronounced that Sanders must listen to him:
Sanders needs to disassociate himself from this kind of fantasy economics right now.
And four former chairs of the White House Council of Economic Advisers—a who’s who of Democratic economic grandees—have released an “open letter” to Sanders telling him to knock it off:
We are concerned to see the Sanders campaign citing extreme claims by Gerald Friedman about the effect of Senator Sanders’s economic plan—claims that cannot be supported by the economic evidence. Friedman asserts that your plan will have huge beneficial impacts on growth rates, income and employment that exceed even the most grandiose predictions by Republicans about the impact of their tax cut proposals.
As much as we wish it were so, no credible economic research supports economic impacts of these magnitudes. . . These claims undermine the credibility of the progressive economic agenda and make it that much more difficult to challenge the unrealistic claims made by Republican candidates.
Alan Krueger, Princeton University
Austan Goolsbee, University of Chicago Booth School
Christina Romer, University of California at Berkeley
Laura D’Andrea Tyson, University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business
[CORRECTED to note wrong college ID.]