Does Obama Have to Become Conservative to Get Things Done?

At first blush, Greg Mankiw's advice to President Obama sounds straightforward and commonsensical. In a nutshell, he tells the president to:

1. Focus on the long run deficit
2. Reduce marginal tax barriers created by the phasing out of tax breaks
3. Stop trying to spread the wealth
4. Get rid of bad teachers to improve education quality

Sounds pretty reasonable doesn't it?

Well, sure it does. If you're a moderate Republican. If President Obama backed the deficit commission's proposal, lowered marginal tax rates for the upper-middle class by by reducing tax expenditures that target the low-income, and took on the teacher's unions, he'd be indistinguishable from an effective moderate GOP president.

To be fair: The president's best shot at getting things done in 2011 might be to govern as a pragmatic moderate Republican. But phasing out lower-income tax breaks and walking back the Democrats' allegiance to redistributing income from the most wealthy to the least wealthy isn't a pragmatic liberal economic strategy, because it's not liberal. It's just old fashioned conservative economics.


Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Business

Just In