Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Which Presidential Candidate Is The Lesser Evil For The U.S. Economy?

After Ron Paul lost to John McCain in the Republican primary and subsequently ruled out running as a third party candidate, there are no voices for economic sanity left (except for the generally unknown candidates of the Libertarian Party and Constitution Party) in the U.S. presidential race. And as Hillary Clinton defeated Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania primary, this means that the Democratic nomination remains undecided (although Obama remains the most likely winner), which in turn means that there are three viable candidates left: John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. None of them is even close to being a good alternative, but one is in fact a lesser evil.

Although I know some libertarians are rooting for Obama while holding McCain to be the greatest evil, that is something I don't agree with. In fact, I think that given the likely circumstances, McCain is in fact the lesser evil.

One reason is that McCain seems to be the by far best on domestic policy, promising tax cuts instead of tax increases, and at least in general unspecified terms propose spending cuts instead of promising large number of new government programs, as Hillary and Obama do. Moreover, while Hillary and Obama argue about which of them is the greatest protectionist, McCain argues for free trade. On the other hand, McCain supports a neoconservative foreign policy, which at the very least means a continuation of the current American presence in Iraq, while both Hillary and Obama promises if not a complete, then at least nearly complete withdrawal.

But the most powerful argument for why McCain is the fact the lesser evil under the current circumstances is that the Democrats are likely to hold onto and indeed increase their congressional majority, particularly in the Senate. Remember, the president is not all-powerful. In order to implement his policies he (or she, if Hillary against all odds manages to defeat both Obama and McCain) needs congressional support.

When there is united government, that is when the same party controls the White House and both chambers of Congress, and then things tend to get out of hand, as that party's statist projects get approved out of party loyalty. This is something we've historically seen under both Democratic and Republican hegemony. When, by contrast, there have been divided government, then the White House and Congress have blocked each other's statist projects because of partisan rivalry. This is something we for example saw during the last 6 years of Bill Clinton's administration, and this is what has been seen in the most recent Congress.

During the first 6 years of the Bush administration, Bush only vetoed one spending bill and that was for the wrong reason. Now, by contrast, Bush have vetoed several Democratic spending bills.

And so, with McCain as president, he is likely to block the Congressional Democrat's quest for more domestic socialism. While the Democratic Congress will block his neoconservative foreign policy initiatives. By contrast, a Hillary or Obama administration is likely to get their vast expansion of domestic socialism easily approved by their fellow Democrats in the Congress.


Blogger flute said...

Hmm. A difficult choice. "Lesser Evil".
IMO, getting out of Iraq is such a big economic advantage that Obama (and maybe Clinton) appear best for that sole reason. I can see no economic reason for the US to keep a presence there. Yes, the oil is attractive to keep prices down, but it seems a continued US military presence in Iraq will not increase oil production markedly in the foreseeable future. Better to save money now being spent on a futile military project.
As for domestic government spending, I think political pressure caused by the continuing financial crisis will "force" whatever candidate gets elected to spend government money on bailouts and stimulus actions. So in this case I can see no clear advantage for any candidate, since whoever gets elected will have their hands tied anyway.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry... the unemployment rate will drop because we will have (finally) "labor market political activities" (which I have no idea what do people do their) to lower the head unemployment rate. This can only happen if Obama wins.

5:15 AM  
Blogger happyjuggler0 said...

I'm voting for the Libertarian Party candidate in November.

I won't vote for an "evil" candidate. I'd rather have my vote added to the total of Libertarian votes. Someday perhaps (I can dream can't I) people will see a high enough vote total for Libertarian in the last vote, and they will say "hey, that is a viable alternative".

Until then both of the main parties can know they are losing a significant number of votes by not nominating a little l libertarian as their candidate.

5:51 AM  
Blogger stefankarlsson said...

Flute: You're overlooking what I wrote about in the post. Namely that because of partisan bickering, any such programs will be far smaller under McCain than under Obama or Clinton.

Happyjuggler: I should clarify that I think you're making the right choice. Voting for the Libertarian Party -or Constitution Party- candidate is better than voting for any of these evils. But one can still root for one of them over another (Of course, as a non-American that's all I can do anyway). My post was meant to discourage any libertarians from voting for Obama,not to discourage them from voting for the Libertarian Party candidate.

3:02 PM  

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