If Candidates Cared about Economists:

What policies would presidential candidates support if they sought to court the support of economists? Greg Mankiw has a list (all but the last one I basically support):

  • Support Free Trade

  • Oppose Farm Subsidies

  • Leave Oil Companies and Speculators Alone

  • Tax the Use of Energy

  • Raise the Retirement Age

  • Invite More Skilled Immigrants

  • Liberalize Drug Policy

  • Raise Funds for Economic Research

On that last one, Mankiw comments:

The government subsidizes economic research through an arm of the National Science Foundation. The amount of money is relatively small — measured in the millions, not billions — and spending has been about flat in inflation-adjusted terms over the last decade. If Senator McCain or Senator Obama wants to endear himself to economists, there is no easier way than by promising an extra few million dollars to improve our understanding of how the economy works.

You might view this policy as nothing more than a way to buy a few votes. Perhaps you view economists as mere mortals, as tempted as anyone else by special interests. Maybe you would regard more funding for economic research as not very different from the billions thrown every year at farmers.

If you are that cynical, I won’t try to dissuade you.