Adviser Gene Sperling, Kennedy Adviser Theodore Sorensen To Help
Launch Miller Center Research Project On Presidency And The Economy
Oct. 6, 1999 -- Do the carefully set economic
and spending policies of U.S. presidents have a decisive effect
on economic performance?
public thinks so. Former President George Bush lost his re-election
bid partly because of the perception that he failed to maintain
America's economic strength. And President Clinton has weathered
potentially crippling scandals in part because voters believe his
policies have sustained high economic growth, low inflation and
record levels of employment.
it is also often argued today that the chairman of the Federal Reserve,
Wall Street and international capital markets have a far greater
impact on the economy than the president. The Miller
Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia is undertaking
an intensive research program to examine the true relationship between
presidential policy and economic performance. "The Miller Center
intends to provoke rigorous, high-level public policy debate,"
said Francis Gavin, director of the center's "Presidency and
Macroeconomic Policy Project."
the project and setting the course for the research will be an inaugural
conference Oct. 14-16 with discussions by some of the nation's
most distinguished economists, policy experts and historians. Participants
will include Gene Sperling, President Clinton's economic adviser
and director of the National Economic Council; Theodore Sorensen,
longtime adviser to Democrats including President John Kennedy;
Sylvia Matthews, deputy director of the Office of Management and
Budget; James K. Galbraith, professor of government at the LBJ School
of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and dozens of other
specialists from think tanks, government agencies and universities
around the country.
goal of the conference is to garner the best possible guidance and
counsel" for the new research program, Gavin said.
the 1960s most economists -- and certainly most executive branch
policymakers -- believed that presidential policy was crucial to
America's well-being, Gavin said. Careful presidential oversight
of fiscal, regulatory, trade, and social welfare policies was considered
essential to tame market forces and maintain steady economic growth.
a marked shift from this view has occurred. "Within the academy,
on Wall Street and even in government circles, doubts have grown
about the power of presidential policy to alter macroeconomic performance,"
Miller Center project will undertake an examination of past presidential
policies as well as research to measure and interpret their impact.
Among questions scholars will pursue:
Were presidential policies of the 1960s responsible for the "stagflation"
of the 1970s?
How did Nixon's "New Economic Policy" influence America's
position in the world economy?
What was the relation between the JFK/LBJ and Reagan tax cuts and
economic growth in the 1960s and 1980s?
What have been the consequences of antitrust policy for technological
innovation and long-term growth?
How important is a balanced budget to economic performance?
questions "are of fundamental importance," Gavin said.
"But for the most part historians and economists have shied
away from them. Often, the intellectual vacuum has been filled by
the claims of politicians and pundits."
Miller Center of Public Affairs specializes in research on the national
policymaking process, the American presidency and the executive
note: A conference schedule and list of attendees is attached. Reporters
are welcome to cover all Miller Center sessions and interview participants
afterwards. Selected sessions may be off-the-record. Two conference
dinners are private working sessions; reporters who wish to attend
them should call Lorraine Settimo at (804) 924-7236 by Oct. 11 to
arrange a place.
interviews or additional information about "The Presidency
and Macroeconomic Policy Project," please contact Margaret
Edwards, director of communications, at (804) 924-7889.
Bob Brickhouse, (804) 924-6856