Rick Perry and “Almost Treason”

Lots of chatter about Rick Perry.  At the time of posting, Intrade has him at a 40% chance of winning the Republican nomination, compared to only 28% for Romney and 7% for Bachmann.  That translates into a 19% chance of him becoming your next president.

There may be some things to like about Perry, but this post from Matt Yglesias highlights not just a gaffe, but a laying bare of the Republican’s “kill the economy to kill Obama” strategy:

If this guy [Bernanke] prints more money between now and the election, I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.

So he opposes further monetary expansion, not because he thinks it will be economically destructive, but because he thinks it will be economically beneficial, and as such would help Pres. Obama’s reelection chances.  Therefore to avoid having an impact on the election (i.e. “playing politics”), he wants Bernanke to do things to damage the economy.  Short-term pain for long-term gain.  The gain here being getting a Republican in the White House.

Wow.  This reminds of the book I just finished reading.  Lots of short-term pain there, but oh, the long-term gain!

Update: Scott Sumner reacts to this soundbite by calling Rick Perry “truly evil“.


About brianbergfeld
I am an economics PhD student at Washington University in St. Louis.

5 Responses to Rick Perry and “Almost Treason”

  1. Adam says:

    Nice tie-in with Koestler.

    I watched the video of the comments, and I’m having trouble reading in to it as much as Yglesias and Bergfeld. The criticism makes sense logically, but I don’t think that is really what Perry meant. I think this was just a simple, and poorly delivered, attempt to take a stab at monetary expansion (a completely new concept that has only come about since late-January 2009) to pander to what Yglesias rightly calls the ‘populist right’s cesspool of monetary madness.’

    I viewed Perry’s statement as equal to saying that further monetary expansion would be ruinous to the economy and therefore treasonous. I think the ‘political’ part of it is him suggesting that monetary expansion is a way to point to some effort to improve the economy, which is the widespread belief, even though Perry and his supporters know very well that monetary expansion is economic suicide because it expands the money supply and the Federal Reserve does it and that is government and money increases and that isn’t good because liberty and freedom. Economy.

    Perhaps I’m giving Perry (a politician I do not support) the benefit of the doubt, but it just sounds like he was trying to pander and just delivered a poor pandering statement. I don’t think he was trying to say that monetary expansion is economically beneficial, so therefore treasonous because it politically benefits the president.

    I do, however, agree with Bergfeld that the Republican strategy is to politically destroy Obama at any cost – including inflicting economic pain.

  2. brianbergfeld says:

    “I think the ‘political’ part of it is him suggesting that monetary expansion is a way to point to some effort to improve the economy”

    Perhaps. Although then Perry would have to be suggesting that the President can benefit by pointing to the Fed’s attempts to improve the economy. I don’t think anybody thinks he would get much credit because the Fed tried something. Or could Perry be talking about the Fed playing political games on its own behalf, trying to show that it is doing something? Maybe, but then why would he have referred to the election?

    I’m willing to accept that he misspoke, though.

    • Adam says:

      I read the statement as: “An expansionary monetary policy, which is disastrous economically, would allow the president to point to an act that is perceived by those who aren’t smart enough to support me to be economically beneficial. This would be a way for the president to score political points, while simultaneously damaging the economy. If Bernanke were to take part in such an act, it would be near treasonous and we would be unkind to him in Texas.”

      Note: I do not agree with this statement, but this is what I interpreted Perry to be saying as I listened.

  3. brianbergfeld says:

    If that was the argument, I don’t get it. Presidents don’t claim credit for things the Fed does. Pres. Obama is not going to argue, “Look, I know things continue to be terrible, but the independent Fed is doing some stuff that is going to make it better, so… vote for me!” The Fed only helps the President if things actually get better.

  4. Pingback: Intrade Now Pricing Greater Than 50% Chance Obama Will Not Be Reelected « News Worldwide

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