Economics was dubbed “the dismal science” in the 19th century, and Thomas Sowell thinks the current political leadership is making U.S. economic policy live up to that reputation.
Sowell appeared on Wednesday night’s “The Kudlow Report,” on CNBC to promote his book, “Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to Economics.” Host Larry Kudlow asked Sowell about the current outlook and his long-term predictions for the economic system as a whole in the United States. The senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution replied that politics plays into the answer.
“That’s an unanswerable question because there’s not an economic question solely,” Sowell explained. “It’s a question of what the politicians will do. I will not predict what the politicians will do a month from now when it becomes necessary to either shut down the government or raise the debt ceiling.”
Sowell wondered aloud whether such a drastic measure would really be taken, and if Republicans who force a shutdown could sustain such the backlash from it.
“I think that the president is going to call the bluff of the Republicans, and I think the Republicans are going to either chicken out or else they’re going to not explain their position the way they did during the Clinton administration shutdown and they’ll be hammered politically,” he said.
Shutting the government down is worthy, he contended, but noted that he was viewing the world from a different perspective.
“Yes, but of course, I’m not running for public office,” Sowell said.
Sowell told Kudlow he didn’t think the country was in immediate danger of losing its position in the world as the economic leader. But the trend isn’t positive, he said.
“Oh, I think it’ll take a while for us to lose that position,” he said. “But I think that the trends right now don’t look promising – again, mainly because of the political leadership. I don’t think there’d be any great problem in shutting down non-essential government workers. I suspect that that would be enough to balance the budget. I don’t think either party’s going to do that.”
Although Sowell deflected questions about where he sees the country heading politically, Kudlow asked if based on his understanding of history and the current circumstances if he had confidence that the entrepreneurial spirit would win out?
“I do not,” Sowell declared.
What would it take to change his mind?
“It would take a change in the White House,” Sowell said. “And a change on Capitol Hill.”
Last month, Sowell was interviewed by The Daily Caller’s Caroline May and discussed the financial crisis, health care and his ideological transformation from Marxism to conservatism.