Thomas Friedman once again derides partisanship and division in his column today. (Can you really get paid at the NYT for writing the same column over and over again? I used to make my students write new papers if they expected credit.) Anyhow, he mourns the divisiveness of U.S. politics and tells us that we need (relying on Frank Fukuyama):
"'If we are to get out of our present paralysis, we need not only strong leadership, but changes in institutional rules,' argues Fukuyama. These would include eliminating senatorial holds and the filibuster for routine legislation and having budgets drawn up by a much smaller supercommittee of legislators — like those that handle military base closings — with 'heavy technocratic input from a nonpartisan agency like the Congressional Budget Office,' insulated from interest-group pressures and put before Congress in a single, unamendable, up-or-down vote."
Those of us familiar with economics shiver when we hear a call for more "technocratic input" that is not accountable to democratic control. After all, it was the economic technocrats who insisted that everything was just fine as the housing bubble expanded to ever more dangerous levels.
Is there any reason to believe that the technocrats involved in economic policy making today are any more competent than the crew in charge from 2002-2008? There is no obvious evidence that this is the case, after all, it is largely the same crew.
Why would anyone in their right mind want to give the people who drove the economy off a cliff more power? Maybe when they get the economy back to full employment we can have this discussion, but as long as so many people are out of work, our economic experts should feel lucky to be employed. The last thing we should be considering is giving them more power.