Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bending Ears on Economics as ’08 Nears - New York Times

Bending Ears on Economics as ’08 Nears - New York Times

Bending Ears on Economics as ’08 Nears

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama and John Edwards are aggressively pitting themselves against Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. But when it comes to something as fundamental as economic policy, the lineup quietly shifts: It is Senators Obama and Clinton against Mr. Edwards.

The shift is evident in the candidates’ senior economic advisers. While both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama have turned to moderately progressive advisers to help them elaborate their own preferences, Mr. Edwards is charting a different, more populist course.

“If you want to have some esoteric debate about economic theory, you end up justifying free trade or supply side economics,” said Leo J. Hindery Jr., a cable-television entrepreneur now engaged in private equity who is serving as Mr. Edwards’s top adviser on economic issues. “What we do for Edwards,” he said, “is give him policy advice based on specific concerns that he has.”

This is not the 1960s, when Walter Heller famously instructed John F. Kennedy in Keynesian economics, or the late 1970s, when Arthur Laffer popularized supply-side economics as Ronald Reagan ran for office — each gaining fame as a teacher of presidents.