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Three U. Maryland Economists Sign Onto McCain Plan

This story was written by Nelly Desmarattes, The Diamondback

Since presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) released a detailed economic plan in the midst of this fall's economic turmoil, more than 300 economists have signed a statement in support of his economic plan, including several university professors.

Three University of Marylandeconomists - visiting research scientist John Lott, assistant economics professor Melissa Kearney and agricultural and resource economics professor Richard Just - pledged their support for McCain's plan, in part because of its emphasis on corporate tax cuts.

Lott, who taught at the University of Chicago at the same time as presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), said he believes Obama's plan would do the economy harm by increasing the corporate tax, thereby making businesses less likely to hire new workers.

Lott also believes that with an Obama presidency and a Democratic Congress the system of checks and balances would be thrown off.

"I already know Obama. Both he and I taught in Chicago for a while, and he was well to the left of most economists," he said. "I don't think he ever met a regulation he didn't like," Lott added, citing Obama's past statements on wealth redistribution as reasons his policies are "socialist."

In the signed statement, which appears on McCain's website, the economists "enthusiastically support" McCain's plan, writing that it "focuses on the real economic problems Americans face today and will face in the future." The statement goes on to praise McCain's stance on government spending, lowering corporate taxes, simplifying the tax system and creating jobs.

"The signing signifies that people are concerned about the level of taxes. A lot of the restrictions that exists target companies and make them less productive than they would have been otherwise. It also signifies real fear of what Barack Obama is proposing," Lott said.

Economics professor Wallace Oates said economists are arguing over the same thing Democrats and Republicans are debating: the relative effectiveness of the Obama proposal of giving tax cuts to the middle and lower class and the McCain proposal of giving tax cuts to businesses.

"There is a real divide among economists on that issue," Oates said. "If you have tax cuts directed to people, they tend to spend the extra income, and that tends to stimulates the economy. So there is some debate on which [tax plan] would stimulate the economy the most."

Oates went on to say neither candidate had really addressed the need for another stimulus package, how they would handle the budget deficit or how they would fix entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicaid.

Economics graduate student David Givens agreed with Oates, saying there is debate among economists on whether the trickle-down economic policies of McCain and the Republican Party are the best way to stimulate the economy.

"If there are 300 economists who support McCain's plan, then they likely believe in trickle-down economics, and that was [former President Ronald Reagan's] philosophy, [President George W. Bush's] philosophy, and that is McCain's philosophy. However, I don't know evidence for that for every percentage point you lower taxes then you create 1,000 jobs. I think it is much more an article of faith that they believe," Givens said.

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