Move over, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. There’s an economist running for president. Laurence J. “Larry” Kotlikoff is jumping into the race as a write-in candidate. The co-author of a best-selling book on how to maximize your payment from Social Security is hoping to apply the principles of economics to fix what ails the United States.
Kotlikoff, 65, is running as a conservative on fiscal issues and arguing that the U.S. faces a $199 trillion “fiscal gap” while taking liberal positions on abortion, gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, incarceration, and gun control.
“Nobody who has actually studied this stuff and written about it has run for president,” Kotlikoff said of his economic expertise in an interview.
Typical of a professor, Kotlikoff has lavished attention on his platform—a 131-page document available for download through his campaign website—without bothering to line up endorsers and donors. In fact, Kotlikoff claims to be uninterested in campaign contributions. His website features a slogan: “Write Me In But Don’t Send Me a Penny.” His media strategy seems singularly reliant on stories like the one you’re reading now to raise his profile.
Write-in candidates face long odds. In the 2012 presidential election, all of them together collected 11/100ths of 1 percent of the vote. So far there are 82 of them, not yet including Kotlikoff, according to the website mytimetovote.com. Among the declared write-in candidates: “Mouse, Mickey,” “Vader, Darth,” and “Bunny, Soul.”
Kotlikoff insists that he isn’t running just to raise awareness about his economic platform. This write-in campaign, be believes, can go viral. “I value my time very highly,” he says. “I wouldn’t do this if I thought my chances were small.”