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Pragmatic Capitalism

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Bernie Sanders and the Santa Claus Growth Plan

Drama. Major drama in political economics.

In case you haven’t been paying attention:

  • Gerald Friedman released some estimates about the Bernie Sanders growth plan with an expected 5.3% GDP. You can read the document here.
  • 4 former Council of Economic Advisers wrote a letter to Sanders saying the plan was wildly unrealistic and undermined progressive economics.
  • Paul Krugman agreed with this calling the plan “voodoo” and stating that it was even more laughable than the Jeb plan to create 4% growth (which was widely mocked by liberals).
  • The story started to gain traction with Sanders supporters blasting Krugman and the CEA members while Hillary supporters maintained that the plan was unrealistic.
  • This prompted another response from Krugman which then resulted in Friedman responding to Krugman wherein he demands an apology.
  • Since then all hell has broken loose and there have been responses by Dean Baker, Brad Delong, Bill Black, James Galbraith, JW Mason, Yves Smith, Kevin Drum, Matthew Klein and even my mom (just kidding).

Whew. I thought the only Friedman that liberals liked to blast was Milton.  Anyhow…

I suspect that James Galbraith is correct here when he says that the Friedman plan is highly plausible given that the inputs are so huge. Big inputs result in big outputs.  But I find myself thinking about the old can opener economist joke, you know, the one where the physicist, chemist and economist are stuck on an island and the economist theorizes that the best way to open a can of food is to first assume you have a can opener….

Look, I am certain that Bernie Sanders is a good man. He has some interesting ideas.  But his ideas are also wildly implausible because they will never pass through the US Congress. His views are, as Galbraith said, too big.  They’re too extreme. I mean, I know exactly how to get big growth in the USA. I’ve outlined three policies of my own that are no-brainers. But they would never pass because they’re too extreme. And they’re less extreme than anything Sanders is proposing….It’s nice to debate big ideas. But we need to keep the discussion within the scope of a reasonable reality.

We can barely muster bipartisan support on common sense stuff these days. If anyone thinks that the Sanders plan is going to get through Congress in its entirety, or even partially, then I would like to introduce you to this man I know named Santa Claus. He has a beautiful bridge to sell you after you make a down payment into this Cayman Islands bank account.  These discussions, while entertaining, are a colossal waste of intellectual fire power.

Addendum – In order for a viable Sanders plan to be implemented the Democrats would likely need both the House and the Senate. The Senate looks like a possibility in 2016, however, winning 30 seats in the House in 2016 looks like a virtual impossibility at this point. Things could change, but the odds of a Sanders economic plan passing this Congress looks very very thin at the moment….

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