Economics professor signs McCain letter

On Tuesday, Oct. 7, economists, professors, and alumni signed a statement terming Sen. Barack Obama’s economic plan as “risky.” The statement was issued by Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R–Ariz.) and openly criticized the economics of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D–Ill.). Among the professors who signed the document was Tepper finance professor Chester Spatt.

Spatt has a Ph.D. in economics and is the former chief economist and director of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Economic Analysis.

Spatt said that the policies Obama plans to institute concerning free trade would be unhealthy for the economy.

“Free trade ... [and] overseas markets are important for American products, [particularly] access to inexpensive products from overseas that can help raise our standard of living,” Spatt said.

Spatt noted that American companies have been decreasing the volume of exports to other countries during this economic crisis. These exports are lower in value than the vast quantities of foreign goods imported to the country, adding to our external debt.

Focusing on a topic closer to our campus, “Our students recognize one of America’s most important exports is higher education,” Spatt said

Students had a variety of opinions on the issue.

Bahati Mutisya, a sophomore business administration major and member of the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, Inc., feels that Obama’s economic plan will help our failing economy.

“[It also] makes me feel like he really cares about the almost-average American person. There are many college students who will have to graduate with student loans on top of trying to figure out how to pay for graduate school, find a job, and find a place to live,” Mutisya said. “Obama just recently finished paying off his student loans and knows the struggle that millions of others will have to endure.”

Mutisya believes that both candidates are earnest in their goals to get America out of the current recession, but that Obama is especially looking out for college students like her.

John McCain’s website counters Mutisya’s argument.

The website states that “this plan will give relief to families of America,” and has a page dedicated to explaining how a McCain administration would affect “gas and food prices, home plans, [and] keeping college students from feeling the credit crunch.”

This last section geared toward college students, however, is the smallest section of the page. It consists of one paragraph explaining the basics of a “student loan continuity plan.”

Jason Hawkins, senior business administration major and president of SPIRIT, has more faith in Obama’s plan for college students.

“Overall, I feel that both candidates want to help Americans,” he said. “It’s just a matter of which Americans they are helping. No matter who gets elected, someone is going to be a little happier with the economy, and I feel that Obama has college students’ interests at heart. Perhaps McCain simply has yet to vocalize his intentions to help college students, and it may be something he wants to look into if he plans on fighting this race to the end.”

Hawkins mentioned Obama’s plan to award students with a $4000 credit toward college tuition in exchange for specified community service projects.

A criticism of Obama’s plan included in the document is the source of financial support for the college tuition credit and other programs that the Obama campaign proposes.

McCain ads capitalize on Obama’s tactic of “spreading the wealth” and “raising taxes” to convey the message that his plan is wrong.

Obama may look like the better candidate for some college students, while others still think of him as a “risky” prospect.