Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Economic Impactifier

There are a growing number of "political tracker" websites out there gearing up for the 2016 Presidential election season.  You've got sites that project delegate counts in the primaries, electoral votes in the general election and what seats each party will hold in the new Congress.  You can also get "truth-meter" ratings on claims by candidates and "Pinocchio ratings" with growing noses for those caught lying.  But what we really need is a site that will track the promises and proposals from the candidates and then apply them to actual economic models.  I like to call it the Economic Impactifier.

I'll admit, this would be a herculean task, to develop a working model of the American economy that also allows for variables to applied to it--but there is probably a 16-year old app developer out there who can figure it out in a couple of days.  Anyways, each candidate would have a dedicated page, and when that candidate unveils a new economic plan, tax proposal or government program, the information would be put in to the model and then the results projected out one, four and eight years into the future.  It would be a valuable tool for voters to see where the country would be is said candidates fulfilled their promises.

For example, if Republican Candidate X said he would cut capital gains taxes in half to "stimulate investment in the US economy", the Economic Impactifier would project how much revenue that would remove from Washington and how much would actually go into the private sector.  Corresponding changes would be reflected in the future models and a voter could see both how viable and how sustainable such a proposal really is.  What's more, ALL of a candidates policies and proposals would run simultaneously in the models--so we can understand the total impact of what he or she is telling the American public.  This will come in especially handy when dealing with Liberal candidates, who like to spend the same money over and over again on the campaign trail. So if Democratic Candidate X says something like "if we closed corporate tax loopholes, we could send every child to college for free" to a group of union teachers one day--they can't get away with saying "if we closed corporate tax loopholes, we could pay for everyone's healthcare" the next day to union government employees that would be needed to staff such a monstrous bureaucracy--at least without running an even larger Federal deficit.

There is a fly in the ointment here.  You see, candidates go out of their way to be as vague as possible in their campaign promises.  Republicans say "I will cut middle class taxes"--not "I will cut middle class taxes by 15%".  Democrats say "I will make the rich pay their fair share"--not "I will raise the top tax bracket to 90%".  And this lack of specificity dooms the Economic Impactifier--since sound mathematical and scientific study relies on accurate data.  You can't just type in "Make it seem fair to people" and get reliable projections back out.

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