Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Friday, March 2, 2012

Just The Facts, Ma'am

Good old Professor Krugman is at it again, bless his heart.

He's trying to inject fact into a story about proposed budgets from Obama and the Four Horsemen of the GOPocalypse.  Bless his adorable little heart.

Anyway, he points out that Romney - remember, he's the "moderate" one - would propose a budget that would destroy social programs like Medicaid while slashing tax rates on the rich.  Meanwhile, he would raise tax rates on the poorest Americans.  All the while exploding the deficit.  Because, in case you missed the last thirty years, cutting taxes for the rich does not in fact create broad-based economic growth that will bring down the deficit.  Supply side economics is the zombie idea that will not die.

Now, Obama has been given grief from his Left for not ending all the Bush tax cuts and therefore allowing the ruinous tax cuts for the rich to continue.  Yet, within a certain context this makes sense.  If we are truly headed for a recovery, and if he wins the White House again in November, he can allow all of the tax cuts to lapse.  If he wins the House and controls the Senate, he can maybe pass the Buffet rule in addition to letting the top Bush tax cuts to expire.

Given the fact that we seem to be headed for a true recovery, he can - hopefully - deliver the coup de grace to supply side economics.  Of course, this will necessitate an honest, fact based coverage of the issue in the media.  Political reporters are more comfortable with the Tiger Beat form of political journalism that covers personality, not issues.  Issues are hard.  You have to know stuff and shit.

Journalists tend to be writers, not economists or political scientists or historians. They tend to have trouble explaining even to themselves what the flaws are in supply side economics.  In addition, their professional code tends to lapse into "He said, she said" false equivalencies.

A recent promising development has been NPR's decision to slant towards fact over balance.  Admittedly, I haven't seen evidence of this yet, but it will be a nice change if it occurs.

If we have a fact based debate over supply side economics, it will be exposed as the fraud that it is.  Of course, we also live in a time when ideological correctness is more important than fact.  I remember having a heated debate with someone about how - in his words - the Tea Party did a great service by making DC focus on the debt.  Now he's supporting Romney, who will do more to increase the debt than Obama will.

Only one party has really done anything to address America's debt issues in the last thirty years.  But because Obama had to quell a massive financial meltdown, he also had to take on huge debt.  Now that he is looking at a recovery, he can look at both growing the economy out of its debt-to-GDP ratio imbalance and increase revenues to balance the budget.

It's still too early to start obsessing over a balanced budget, but it's not too early to select a leader who will make sane budgeting decisions over the next four years.  Obama's the only one who meets that criteria.

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