University of Chicago Economics Professor On What Obama Is Really Like As A Decision Maker And What Economists Think Of Trump

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Answers by Austan Goolsbee, American economist, Professor of Economics at The University of Chicago, on Quora.

A: Well, his tax plan is an $11 trillion tax cut over 10 years and he's said he's for massive tariffs on imported goods. Those are about the only specific economic policies he's mentioned. Most economists I know-- spanning the ideological spectrum--say his plans are nutty. I presume he will start changing what he says he will do if he gets the nomination. So far, I would say that each time he says something about the economy everyone here at Booth wants to run the clips of him saying he went to Wharton.


A: Depends which ones and whether you mean the ideas of the proposals or the specifics.

I think several of his ideas are really important--improving college affordability, getting more people covered in health care, reforming campaign finance, etc.

Some of the actual specifics in his policies I would say the numbers do not add up at all and I hope that they will keep working on them to make them more realistic.

Overall, though, as I wrote in a blog post last November, I basically think that Sanders is proposing something like the big social welfare states in Europe. Those entail higher government spending than we have had before in the US but clearly they aren't impossible given that they exist. I would just remind folks that if you have European sized government sectors, you are likely to also have European-style taxes which are paid by the middle class, not just the rich.


A: He was an excellent debater, yes (he & his partner were 2nd in the partner and I were 1st).

He was best at set pieces and laying traps for his opponents. He was most vulnerable to having to adjust on his feet.

I'm afraid that if he gets elected president, he's going to come after me for all the fun I used to have at his expense.


A: I only saw one President's decision making up close and he's a guy I knew for a long time before he became President so no way I can eliminate my own biases.

The public image that he doesn't get hot headed--up or down--is not wrong. I found that in the very depths of the financial crisis, the cabinet and the advisors would be arguing about some pretty heavy stuff and it was a scary moment when things could have gone terribly wrong. And I remember thinking many times, "thank God he's the one that has to decide this thing and not us."

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