Econ 1: Spring 2012: UC Berkeley: Lecture Slides for March 21, 2012: Inequality
Problem Set 5 Solutions

The Big Problem Is That Since 1993 the Republican Moderates in Congress Aren't

Peter Orszag writes:

To Boost U.S. Productivity, Elect a New Congress: Last week, Harvard Business School hosted a conference in New York to talk about how the U.S. could continue to support “high and rising living standards for Americans” in the face of global competition. It was a lively discussion, leading to many good, if familiar, economic-policy ideas for increasing productivity in the U.S. Unfortunately, this conversation largely ignored the key constraint to many of the policy recommendations: the rise of hyperpolarization in Congress. If business leaders want better economic policy, they need to first help elect more moderates to Congress…

I think that this annoys the elephant in the room. Since January 1993--from Chaffee on the Reconciliation Bill to Specter on judicial nominations to Snowe on the Affordable Care Act--when the chips were down, Republican moderates in congress have almost invariably chosen to back their party leaders rather than to use their crucial median-voter position to dictate that their policy preferences become law.

Electing a large decisive block of Democratic moderates to hold the balance of power in the House and Senate would be effective at ending what Peter somewhat misleadingly calls "hyperpolarization"--because while policy has swung to the crazy right when Republicans hold the levers, there has been no countersuing when Democrats do. Electing any Republican moderates… isn't.