Would President Romney move left after the campaign?
National Journal asks whether Mitt Romney would follow the advice of his economic advisers as president or his campaign promises to the GOP base. The story points out that Romney’s top economic advisers have advocated for policy reforms that are at odds with Romney’s campaign platform: Glenn Hubbard has pushed for mass refinancing of mortgages, as Ezra has discussed, and Greg Mankiw has argued that interest rates should be cut all the way to zero to flood the market with liquidity. By contrast, Romney says that the housing market should “heal itself” without any intervention and that monetary policy should be tightened, not loosened.
Some insist that Hubbard and Mankiw could help nudge Romney in their direction if he ascended to the White House. But others point out that there will be constant political pressure for Romney to stay true to his campaign promises:
If he does wind up as the nation’s 45th president, former White House economic advisers say, his political team will constantly remind his economic team of the promises that Romney made on the campaign trail. Smaller ones, or those that matter mainly to specific constituencies, will be easier to walk back; those might include replacing Bernanke with an inflation hawk. But promises in high-profile areas, such as housing, are harder to break.
“As a general proposition, you trust what the candidate says, not what academic advisers believe,” said Robert Shapiro, a former campaign and White House adviser to President Clinton who now runs Sonecon, an economic-consulting firm in Washington. “The notion that what a candidate says on the economy during the campaign is disposable is just not true.” Economists’ influence is greatest, former presidential advisers note, when something new takes place—say, another recession at the start of 2013.
As Ezra pointed out yesterday, there’s ample evidence that presidents usually try to carry out the promises they make on the campaign trail.