Economics Professors join students to watch the first presidential debate

Miriam Ridge, Staff Reporter

In typical Case Western Reserve University fashion, Monday night’s presidential debate watch party at Leutner Commons began with a technical difficulty. From a missing VGA cord to a green display, and then to a lack of audio, it felt like the odds were against us. Luckily, in typical CWRU fashion, the students in attendance were an IT crew in their own right; several students huddled around the computer and troubleshot until they managed to get everything in place.

The viewing, sponsored by the Economics Department, began with a general poll of the room’s political leanings, and ended with a question and answer session with Susan Helper, Robin Dubin and David Clingingsmith, professors from the department. The discussion primarily focused on the economic policies of the Democratic and Republican candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Students from all over the political spectrum attended, and a number of questions were asked, such as the effect of authoritarian regimes on the economy, the effect of foreign policy on the economy, the validity of gross domestic product as a measurement of the success of the economy.

Dubin discussed both Trump’s and Clinton’s fiscal policies. “Some economists have said that Trump’s policy will lead to another recession,” began Dubin. “He wants to cut tax revenue and increase spending…. Estimates are that he will push the national debt up to 150 percent. Clinton is proposing new expenditures and new tax revenues to pay those, but she’s not proposing anything to pay down, or fix, the current deficit.” When it came to a reasonable economic plan for the next administration, Clingingsmith said, “We’re able to borrow at really low rates right now, so now is the time to borrow, invest in and restructure.…”

Dubin explained that After World War II, the United States was in debt, but we managed to pay that down, and from then until President Jimmy Carter, the budget was pretty much balanced. Ronald Reagan ran on Carter’s failure to balance the budget and presented his plan of increasing spending and cutting taxes. “Does that sound familiar?” asked Dubin. Reagan ultimately left a drastic increase in federal debt.

As for the debate itself, according to both the viewers at the Economics watch party, and a general consensus of news sites—CNN, BBC, Washington Post, The Economist, Fox News, Forbes—Clinton won. Most political scientists are waiting for the polls to come out for a definitive victor, but it’s my guess that Trump will be studying up for the next debate.