Election Collection

This past Friday evening, Science Center 199 was almost full. Around 80 Swarthmore alumni, professors, students and some residents from the local community gathered to hear a talk on the just-passed presidential election. Five panelists specializing in three different fields were invited to speak.

“I want the audience to be able to get a broad perspective of this election,” said Josh Green ’92, Hawaii State Senator and the moderator of the panel discussion.

The four panelists were Professor Mark Kuperberg in the Economics Department, Associate Professor of Political Science Benjamin Berger, Barbara Stubbs Cochran ’67 who is a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, and her husband John Cochran, senior Washington correspondent for ABC News.

“The idea [to have the event] came out of the September 2012 executive committee meeting of the Alumni Council,” said Astrid Devaney, Associate Director of Alumni Relations. Because they always plan a program on the Friday evening of the Alumni Council’s meeting, the Alumni Relations Office thought the election results might be an interesting topic.

“The committee members thought the topic was one in which the entire community might be interested, so we advertised the talk across campus in the hope of attracting students,” said Lisa Lee ’81, Director of Alumni Relations.

Going off the event’s title, “Where Do We Go From Here?”, Kuperberg divided his 10-minute talk into two parts: what does “here” look like and where to go from “here.”

“With fiscal policy, you cannot fight the recession and the deficit at the same time,” Kuperberg said, defining what he calls the Fundamental Theorem of Macroeconomics.

“The fact that the deficit has gotten bad under the Obama administration was not because they were incompetent, but because they were competent,” said Kuperberg. He argued that the recession and the deficit cannot be cured at the same time. Attacking the recession will make the deficit worse, and vice versa. He talked about how this is not well understood and how the Obama administration did not explain it to the public.

He then spoke about the fiscal cliff and ended his talk with two graphs of entitlements. “Social Security is a problem that is easy to solve but Medicare is a hard problem to solve,” he said.

“It was a very insightful look into the election and politics in general by five very prominent and distinguished persons,” Alden Dirks ’16 said. He found the talk hilarious and informing. “I’m glad I attended,” said Dirks.

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