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July 25, 2013

OU Economist says uncertainty over policy curbing activity

DUNCAN — A University of Oklahoma economist said Wednesday that uncertainty over government policies is one of the reasons for a lackluster economic recovery in the U.S.

Will Clark, who grew up in Duncan, spoke to the Duncan Rotary Club and gave some brief thoughts about past and present U.S. economic policies and theories behind them.

For example, he said “supply-siders” who like Ronald Reagan tout tax cuts over government spending as a way to stimulate the economy, “have been in the wilderness for a while.”

But after the noon luncheon, Clark offered more specific thoughts about today’s economy, including President Obama trying to revive his stalled economic agenda.

 Obama has begun a campaign-like effort to focus attention on the economy again. Critics, including many Republicans, say Obama has repivoted to the economy as a major issue a dozen times since taking office and is doing so again to divert attention from other issues.

Clark said Obama’s renewed focus on the economy could lack punch.

“If the public sees that too often it loses its steam, and I think one of the reasons for the lackluster economy is the lack of certainty over what the effects of various policies are going to be,” Clark said.

“That uncertainty has a chilling effect on economic activity.”

He said the Affordable Care Act, referred to by many as Obamacare, is just one example of that.

“What are the effects of that going to be?” Clark said. “I think the simple answer is nobody knows.”

Clark said Obama’s emphasis on alternative energy and green jobs is falling flat in part because that industry has to be subsidized.

“Private individuals are not willing to pay for those types of products,” he said. “It has to be subsidized by the government.”

Meanwhile, he said the private sector, especially the oil and natural gas industry in Oklahoma, is making strides toward the U.S. becoming energy independent.

“They are not just making that up,” Clark said. “I think that is a viable possibility because they have gotten out there, they have technology, they have learned how to frack these formations and they are making huge amounts of energy.”

Clark has been married for years to Linda Cavanaugh, a longtime newscaster for KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City.

Clark jokingly told Rotary members that among the great things about his wife is that she let him keep his maiden name after they were married.

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