The heart of the letter is worthy, and commendable: to call out the fact that Senator Sander's campaign is making promises that don't add up, beyond even the usual stretches of campaign rhetoric from both sides.
When Republicans have proposed large tax cuts for the wealthy..Hmm. I wonder if Republicans would characterize their proposals that way? How many speeches have you heard saying "we want large tax cuts for the wealthy!" No, they say they want tax reform to reduce distorting marginal rates and rampant cronyism.
Really, dear colleagues and friends, how would you respond if Republican CEA chairs were to write a similar letter addressing the shortcomings of Trump's plan that started,
When Democrats have proposed incentive-killing growth-killing marginal tax rate increases with lots of exemptions for their donors...and goes on to trumpet their sober-minded analysis of the plans, would you be inspired to plaud their "reputation" for objective evidence-based analysis?
So this is just a poke in the eye, a repetition of partisan Democratic campaign rhetoric, stirring up the base by bulverizing the other party.
Why is Washington so polarized? Because even once-respectable academic economists, transported to Washington, cannot stop themselves from this sort of schoolyard taunting, tribalistic attacks, and repetition of their bosses' propaganda.
For many years, we have worked to make the Democratic Party the party of evidence-based economic policy.
Largely as a result of efforts like these, the Democratic party has rightfully earned a reputation for responsibly estimating the effects of economic policies.
our reputation as the party of responsible arithmetic.Oh. I thought you were simply doing what all good economists, do, all good CEA chairs do, and you were working to make evidence-based policy a routine feature of all government policy under all administrations. I thought you were working for the benefit of the country, not just the Democratic party.
Worst of all, it's counterproductive. Once you start repeating propaganda -- "tax cuts for the wealthy" -- once you start schoolyard taunts -- the CEA chairs who serve under Republicans are apparently not even capable of arithmetic -- the other side, feeling exactly the intended sling of insult, turns off. You do not gain a reputation for evidence-based policy, you gain a reputation for pandering to political opportunity, and all your "evidence" is immediately suspect of the same partisan bias.
So I don't know in whose eyes the "Democratic party has rightfully earned a reputation for responsibly estimating the effects of economic policies." Among Democrats? Sure. But they often don't care a lot about evidence, as in, say GMO foods or nuclear power. Among Republicans? That's where it might count. I don't go to fancy Republican cocktail parties in DC, but I sort of doubt the chatter goes "well, those Democrats, they have a lot of looney ideas, but you have to hand it to them, they always stick with the science and the evidence." Evidence is only evidence if it is objective.
So if there ever was such a reputation, you four just threw it away with "large tax cuts for the wealthy" and the insinuation that Republicans can't even add. Instead, you reinforced what I sense your party's reputation actually is among Republicans. And then you're surprised when they don't play nice.