Why Charlie Wheelan Needs To Broaden His Base

Greg Mankiw has a post up asking all economists to endorse Charlie Wheelan, a University of Chicago economist, for Congressman from the 5th District of Illinois. He is running in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Rahm Emanue. Here is his platform:

Charlie Wheelan is running for Congress as a centrist Democrat. His goal is to promote pragmatism and sensible economic thinking. In the face of a global recession, a straining of the global financial system and a troubling long-run fiscal outlook, it is crucial to have economically literate members of Congress. The purpose of this petition is to reinforce that general message. Your signature on this petition does not represent an endorsement of Wheelan specifically, but rather indicates support for the core principles of economic policy stated below. I hope that you join me in signing.


At a time of unique challenges to the global financial system, it is imperative to have members of Congress with a sophisticated understanding of economics.

Economic stimulus that includes government spending should be carefully designed to ensure that only projects that have social value are funded. Infrastructure projects, identified by an objective panel, that likely would have been pursued without special funds are good candidates. If there are insufficient projects meeting a high cost-benefit threshold, additional stimulus should come in the form of tax cuts.

Any mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States should be pursued through market mechanisms that raise revenue, which can be used to reduce the personal, corporate and/or payroll tax.

The U.S. should make long-term investments in human capital, particularly in early childhood education for low-income and disadvantaged children.

Congress should promote free trade and work to reduce trade barriers around the globe. The best way to deal with the political costs of trade and the economic dislocation caused by international competition is to create a meaningful safety net for displaced workers.

Tax reform is necessary to improve the equity, efficiency and simplicity of the tax code. A priority of tax reform should be a reduction in the number of special incentives that narrow the tax base, induce tax avoidance and increase compliance costs.

The U.S. must deal with the looming fiscal obligations created by our entitlement programs: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Our current economic situation justifies increased deficits now, but today’s policy must be attentive to the need for fiscal balance over the next several decades.

I’m could get on board with this guy but I’m not an economist. Perhaps he could expand his appeal to the more plebeian among us and pick up some more support. Economists just have to learn that they really aren’t that special.

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