Maybe the best person to take on issue number one — the economy — should be an economist?
At least, that’s the thought of Laurence Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University. He’s planning on throwing his hat in the ring next week, announcing he’s running for president as a third-party candidate.
"I think I may be the first economist to run for president," Kotlikoff said. "We see economists now running Greece and Italy. It’s not everyday that an economist decides to work this way for his country — but I’m one of those cases."
Kotlikoff has never before run for public office. His goal is to secure a place on the 2012 ballot as an independent through a new online nomination site, AmericansElect.org.
The nonpartisan group, which has raised $22 million so far, aims to put an alternative candidate on the ballot, chosen by online voters through a three-stage primary.
In addition to his role as an economics professor, Kotlikoff is the author of 15 books and a regular columnist for Bloomberg.com. He has also served as a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments, central banks and international agencies like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Kotlikoff’s platform centers on what he calls the "Purple Plan." Purple, because he hopes it will appeal to both blue Democrats and red Republicans, and all Americans in between.
Political observers question whether a nonpartisan candidate could have a serious shot at winning, and it’s not as if Kotlikoff is the only alternative candidate out there. Currently 165 people, not in the Republican or Democratic parties, are on file with the Federal Election Commission as presidential candidates.
Still, he hopes his campaign will have an impact.
"I’m hopeful that my candidacy will be taken very seriously," he said. "And that young people in particular will realize this is someone who is really focused on their interests."
If he does win, Kotlikoff pledges to eliminate income taxes on both individuals and businesses, as well as estate and gift taxes. Instead, he would institute a progressive sales tax and inheritance tax, and make the payroll tax highly progressive.
Kotlikoff would also replace the current health care system with one under which all Americans receive a voucher each year to purchase a standard health plan from the private-plan provider of their choice. In true economist speak, he says he would reallocate the roughly 10% of GDP that the federal and state government currently spend on Medicare, Medicaid and health exchanges, to pay for this program.
"I’m not suggesting that only an economist is qualified to be President, but I am suggesting that, other things equal, economic problems are likely to be better understood and fixed by an economist than a career politician or someone who has, for example, spent his life running a pizza chain," Kotlikoff wrote on his campaign website Kotlikoff2012.org.
Kotlikoff says he does not have a party affiliation and he plans to file an official statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission next week.
He previously worked as a senior economist on President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors, but voted for President Carter. He has also served as an economic adviser to former Senator Mike Gravel, who switched from the Democratic Party to the Libertarian Party amid his 2008 bid for president.
Author: Annalyn Censky