Pelosi Shuns Conservatives in Economics Forum

Monday, 19 Oct 2009 01:37 PM

By Theodore Kettle

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This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will convene yet another “economists forum” at the Capitol to seek expert backing for yet another massive stimulus spending package.

Two of her previous forums led to passage of gargantuan expenditure bills, like the $787 billion stimulus passed earlier this year. But with unemployment now near double digits, many question the effectiveness of opening the fiscal floodgates further.

In announcing the forum, Congress’ top Democrat promised, “We will be hearing from some economists, from right to left on this spectrum, in the days ahead.”

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But the one token economist of the “right” known to be coming to Pelosi’s event is Mark Zandi of Moody’s, who served as an economic adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign.

Just how Republican or conservative is Zandi? Federal Election Commission records show that while the Pennsylvania-based economist did give substantial contributions to the McCain campaign, he also gave many thousands of dollars to liberal Democratic campaigns.

The records show Zandi contributed $2,300 to Democrat Bob Roggio’s unsuccessful campaign to unseat Rep. Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district last year. They also show him giving a total of over $9,000 in 2007 and 2009 to the campaign of liberal Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak next door in the state’s 7th congressional district.

Zandi’s wife, Dr. Ava Nelson Zandi, in those two years also gave over $9,000 to Sestak’s campaign, records indicate, as well as giving over $2,000 to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton in 2007.

If all that’s not flabbergasting enough for someone touted by Democrats as a Republican economic adviser, consider the fact that Zandi gave $1,000 to the campaign fund of Pennsylvanian Sen. Arlen Specter – a donation recorded as taking place on May 18th of this year, less than one month after Specter switched parties from Republican to Democrat. Ironically, Congressman Sestak is running against Specter for the 2010 Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

Of the other economists presented by Pelosi as being an ideologically diverse group, all are friendly to liberal economic policies. Alan Blinder of Princeton, for instance, was made Federal Reserve Board vice chairman by President Clinton after serving on his Council of Economic Advisers, and Blinder advised both the Al Gore and John Kerry presidential campaigns.

Heather Boushey of the Center for American Progress was a senior economist for liberal Democratic New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney on the Joint Economic Committee, and has been associated with the left-wing Economic Policy Institute.

Another economist far out on the left who will appear is American Prospect magazine co-editor Bob Kuttner, who once ran Jimmy Carter’s National Commission on Neighborhoods.

Only Allen Sinai, president of Decision Economics, could even remotely be called a friend of free-market principles, having called for capital gains tax reductions in the past and early this year calling on the Obama Administration to make a temporary cut in business taxes on foreign subsidiary earnings. But Sinai is also a believer in big-spending government stimulus. “Government — federal, state and local — is helping take the economy from recession to recovery. I think it’s the primary contributor,” Sinai told the New York Times in August.

With the stimulus not working very well at all, Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi desperately seek economists’ stamp of approval to spend hundreds of billions of dollars more. But the economists she claims are “right to left on this spectrum” are really left to left-center at best.

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