Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Obama the free marketeer?

In the comments to a post by Michael C. Moynihan at Reason's Hit & Run, Tim Cavanaugh, late of Reason and now Web editor of the Los Angeles Times opinion page, reinforces Moynihan's contention that Barack Obama may well be the more market-oriented of the two Democrat contenders for president.

We had both of the Tiresome Twosome in for L.A. Times endorsement interviews within a day or two of each other. Obama easily clinched it right there, and the split was exactly as Moynihan lays out in his post.

To wit: On all economic topics you got vague-but-encouraging, generally New Democrat pro-market stuff out of Obama, and you got straight-up socialism out of Clinton. That was true for free trade, for punishment of the "CEOs who have caused this mess," for making sure "the workers who created the wealth get their fair share," for the bailout of sub-prime deadbeats, for everything. This was not exactly a Fox-News-type crowd they were addressing either: With a handful of exceptions, everybody in the room was quite eager to hear hang-the-rich, protect-the-people-from-themselves claptrap.

I'm not exaggerating when I say Clinton's rhetoric was openly socialist and Obama's at least showed familiarity with the basic notion of a free market. That doesn't mean Clinton will rule that way or that she's legislated that way, and it doesn't mean Obama won't suck. But just counting their comments on economics, Obama was orders of magnitude less objectionable than Clinton.

That's an interesting peek into what the two presidential hopefuls are telling a select audience of (mostly) economically authoritarian newspaper editors about their economic views.

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