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Noah Smith

Republicans Turn Away From Experts and Economics

Conservatives ignore findings that government intervention can help the economy.

He was good enough for a Nobel, but not for the Fed.

He was good enough for a Nobel, but not for the Fed.

Photographer: Darren McCollester/Getty Images North America

In 2010, President Barack Obama nominated economist Peter Diamond to the Federal Reserve Board. A short time later, Diamond -- a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- received the Nobel Prize for his work on theories of the labor market. That pioneering research forms the basis of a whole branch of macroeconomic theory to this day.

But this brilliant academic career wasn't enough for Republicans in the Senate, who repeatedly blocked Diamond’s nomination. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama huffed that since Diamond’s academic work was on labor markets and pensions, Diamond had no “experience in conducting monetary policy.” Mark Calabria, a frequent Republican policy adviser who has also worked at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, declared that “the last thing the Fed needs is another Ph.D. in economics.” Calabria then went on to make a startling claim: