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Economists Support McCain Outline, But What About the Details?

PITTSBURGH — The McCain campaign released a statement Monday about Sen. John McCain’s "Jobs for America" economic plan — which the presumed GOP nominee is on the road promoting — signed by "over 300 professional economists." According to the press release, "The list includes Nobel Prize-winners, business economists with experience in the private sector, policy economists with experience in government and academic economists from major universities and state and community colleges."

Not quite. According to Politico, McCain’s economic team, including advisers Doug Holtz-Eakin and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, began collecting signatures months ago, long before the "Jobs for America" plan was announced. The economists signed a 430-word statement endorsing McCain’s general economic priorities, not the detailed 15-page plan presented by the campaign earlier this week. The statement they signed did not include any mention of McCain’s proposed gas tax holiday — a central feature of McCain’s economic plan — which 200 professional economists, including four Nobel Prize winners, recently signed a letter opposing. From Politico:

Upon closer inspection, it seems a good many of those economists don’t actually support the whole of McCain’s economic agenda. And at least one doesn’t even support McCain for president.

In interviews with more than a dozen of the signatories, Politico found that, far from embracing McCain’s economic plan, many were unfamiliar with — or downright opposed to — key details. While most of those contacted by Politico had warm feelings about McCain, many did not want to associate themselves too closely with his campaign and its policy prescriptions.

Apart from it being less than straight from the straight-talk express, this statement could hurt McCain. Between now and November, McCain will surely need to unveil new policy proposals. If experts can’t trust that their endorsements will be used in an ethical manner, it could be that some might withhold them — even if they agree with McCain.

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