Elizabeth Warren on the Economic Consequences of the Obama Administration

Elizabeth Warren, recently appointed to a Democratic leadership position in the Senate, explained her priorities: “Wall Street … is doing very well, CEOs are bringing in millions more and families all across the country are struggling,” she said. “We have to make this government work for the American people. And that’s what I will fight for.”

The comment is interesting because it embodies the assumption that government policy actually can improve people’s economic well-being. Many people reading The Beacon would think that the less Elizabeth Warren and her Senate cronies do, the better off we’ll be.

But let’s say she’s right, and government policy actually can improve people’s economic lot. When President Obama came into office six years ago, he was supported by a Democratic House and Senate, so they determined the government’s policies. And while the Democrats have now lost their Congressional majorities, Obama is still the president and the Senate will still be majority Democrat for a few more weeks.

If government policy actually does affect people’s well-being, as Warren implies, we could re-state her comment to say, “Our party has been in power for six years now, and thanks to our policies, CEOs are prospering while families across America are struggling.” Is that an unfair interpretation of what she’s said?

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
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