A group of former White House economic advisers to Presidents Obama and Clinton are giving Democrat presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders a failing grade in economics. In an open letter they posted on Feb. 17, the four former heads of the Council of Economic Advisers argue that Sanders does not have evidence on his side to verify the claims he is making for policies he asserts will bring about economic recovery.
They wrote that Sanders is effectively undermining Democrats who are positing more realistic economic policies for recovery. “These claims undermine the credibility of the progressive economic agenda and make it that much more difficult to challenge the unrealistic claims made by Republican candidates.”
The signatories are: Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago, Alan Krueger of Princeton University, Christina Romer from the University of California at Berkeley, and Laura D’Andrea Tyson of the University of California at Berkeley.
“For many years, we have worked to make the Democratic Party the party of evidence-based economic policy. When Republicans have proposed large tax cuts for the wealthy and asserted that those tax cuts would pay for themselves, for example, we have shown that the economic facts do not support these fantastical claims. We have applied the same rigor to proposals by Democrats, and worked to ensure that forecasts of the effects of proposed economic policies, from investment in infrastructure, to education and training, to health care reforms, are grounded in economic evidence.”
The letter is also addressed to Gerald Friedman, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. While Friedman he not an official advisor to the Sanders campaign, a paper written by Friedman suggests that Sanders' domestic spending policies will supercharge the economy. The Sanders campaign has relied on Friedman’s analysis on the universal health care plan, and Sanders’s campaign policy director, Warren Gunnels, has repeatedly praised him. “We haven't had such an ambitious agenda to rebuild the middle class since Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Johnson.”