Monday, November 3, 2008

The Official Modern Economic Freedom 2008 Election Scorecard

If it is a fill-in-the-blank electoral map you are looking for, you have come to the wrong place. This scorecard is not to be penciled in as states are declared each hour tomorrow night. You can expect nothing less from Modern Economic Freedom than a careful winnowing down to what really matters.

A few weeks ago, a good friend pointed out that a candidate’s position on an issue is what has been most recently stated. Fair enough. And thankfully Obama wrote about his economic plan in today’s Wall Street Journal. This is the essence of the MEF Scorecard: What will Obama actually do once elected, and what will be the effects.

The Official Modern Economic Freedom 2008 Election Scorecard

There are various Obama quotes on different topics (in italics), followed by MEF commentary. After each point, fill in what happened after the election.

Tax Cuts
I’ll give a tax break to 95% of workers and their families. If you work, pay taxes, and make less than $200,000, you’ll get a tax cut.
  • Which is it: 95% of workers, or those who work AND pay taxes?
  • What is Obama’s Clintonian definition of “cut”?

If you make more than $250,000, you’ll still pay taxes at a lower rate than in the 1990s

  • Does that include his plan to raise the cap on payroll taxes?
  • For most of the 1990’s the top marginal tax rate was 39.6% - so the Obama rate will presumably be lower than that.
  • Presumably, if you make between $200k and $250k you will experience no change in taxes.

-and capital gains and dividend taxes one-third lower than they were under Ronald Reagan

  • The rate is currently 15%. It was lowered from 28% to 20% in 1997.
  • In 1981, the rate was 23.7%, from 1982-1986 it was 20% (with a 60% exclusion), and in 1987/88 it was 28%.
  • Even assuming the 28% rate, one-third lower would mean a rate of 18.5%
  • Obama said on April 17, 2008: I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.

Job Creation
We’ll create two million new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and laying broadband lines that reach every corner of the country

  • Is he referring to jobs that come about from the economic growth enabled by an improved infrastructure, or simply the government hiring two million people on a temporary basis?

I’ll invest $15 billion a year over the next decade in renewable energy, creating five million new, green jobs

  • Conversely, the cap gains tax could be eliminated, encouraging private enterprise to invest in renewable energy.
  • The tally is seven million new jobs from these two policies (none noted from economic growth)

Health Care
My plan will make health care affordable and accessible for every American

  • Health care is currently accessible to all, and affordable to few.

If you already have health insurance, the only change you’ll see under my plan is lower premiums.


If you don’t, you’ll be able to get the same kind of plan that members of Congress get for themselves

  • For free???
  • Again, anyone can “get” the same kind of plan – but very few can afford it. What is Obama going to do to reduce the cost of health care?

Selected Data
Item 2008 2000 1992 1980

Dow 9,325 10,971 3,226 924
CPI 4.9% 3.5% 3.0% 12.6%
10-yr US Treasury 4.0% 5.8% 6.8% 12.5%
Unemployment 6.1% 3.9% 7.6% 7.5%

Barrel of Oil $68 $33 $21

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