Thursday, August 28, 2008

Name that Candidate

Who is the New York Times describing here?

From the beginning, X has sought out academic economists, rather than lawyers or former White House aides. His first economic adviser, Y, is a young University of Chicago professor who shares X’s market-oriented [Party] views. This summer, X added Z, who has a more traditional background ... but he, too, has a Ph.D. in economics, from Harvard.

As anyone who has spent time with X knows, he likes experts, and his choice of advisers stems in part from his interest in empirical research. (James Heckman, a Nobel laureate who critiqued the campaign’s education plan at Y’s request, said, “I’ve never worked with a campaign that was more interested in what the research shows.”) By surrounding himself with economists, however, X was also making a decision with ideological consequences. Far more than many other policy advisers, economists believe in the power of markets. What tends to distinguish [Party] economists is that they set out to uncover imperfections of the market and then come up with incremental, market-based solutions to these imperfections. This helps xplain the X campaign’s interest in behavioral economics, a relatively new field that has pointed out many ways in which people make irrational, short-term decisions. To deal with one example of such myopia, X would require companies to automatically set aside a portion of their workers’ salary in a 401(k) plan. Any worker could override the decision — and save nothing at all or save even more — but the default would be to save.

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