400 Economists Endorse Romney

Group, founded by ex-Bush official, includes 5 Nobel Prize winners

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. (Photo: AP) Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. (Photo: AP)

A former conservative official has rallied 400 economists, including five Nobel Prize winners, to sign a statement supporting Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s economic policies.

Nobel Prize-winning economists Gary Becker, Robert Lucas, Robert Mundell, Edward Prescott and Myron Scholes are among the names listed on the website, Economists for Romney.

The site's founder, James Carter, was a deputy assistant Treasury secretary of former President George W. Bush. Economists for Romney describes itself as “an independent, voluntary association of economists” supporting the former Massachusetts governor and says it “is not an official arm of the 2012 Mitt Romney campaign.”

AdvisorOne could find no comparable list of economists supporting President Obama, though the prominent liberal economist Brad DeLong derided the list on his blog, suggesting its signers should “back out” now that Romney has chosen Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate. DeLong also said 400 was not a high number in comparison to the more than 1,000 economists who Republican presidents have appointed to positions on the Council of Economic Advisers.

The list is reminiscent of the support Obama received in his first presidential run, when six Nobel Prize-winning economists and others including DeLong, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, supported the president. The Nobel winners included Paul Krugman, Daniel McFadden, Edmund Phelps, Amartya Sen, Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz.

It is not clear how many of these economists still count themselves as Obama supporters. The Obama campaign has yet to respond to a request from AdvisorOne for a list of current supporters among economists.

The statement signed by the group said the governor’s economic plan was based on “a more contained and less intrusive federal government, a greater reliance on the private sector, a broad expansion of opportunity without government favors for special interests, and respect for the rule of law including the decision-making authority of states and localities.”

Among the specific policies the economists endorsed, they said, are Romney's plan to reduce marginal tax rates and thereby broaden the tax base, ensure that federal spending not exceed 20% of GDP, and restructure regulation so as to end “too big to fail.”

The economists blasted Obama for “increasing the size and scope of the federal government, which increases the debt, requires large tax increases, and burdens business with many new financial and health care regulations.”

Prominent names among the signatories are Robert Barro (Harvard), Michael Boskin (Stanford), Martin Feldstein (Harvard), Allan Meltzer (Carnegie Mellon) and John Taylor (Stanford).

Big names in the business world on record as supporting Obama in 2012 include former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. The Omaha businessman told Fox News in May he supported the president “100%.”

As for Obama’s 2008 economist supporters, Paul Krugman’s most recent blog posts make clear he vociferously opposes the Republican ticket. Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz expressed criticism of both Obama and Romney in his most recent New York Times op-ed on U.S. housing policy.

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