Monday, February 27, 2012

Cat Food Commission - misleading statements

The NY Times publishes a highly misleading paragraph on the Simpson-Bowles  deficit reduction commission.

It came just a few months after the president had opted not to endorse the recommendations of a deficit commission he had created in hopes of brokering a bold, bipartisan deficit deal. That gave rise to a portrayal that has stuck, popularized by Republicans, pundits and some Democrats: that the president, out of political timidity, snubbed his own panel’s plan.

The emphasized portions are incorrect. There was no recommendation from the commission. A recommendation was produced, yes, but it failed to get all 14 members to sign on to it, so it was the recommendation of only the two co-chairs. This is an extremely important point as, if the commission couldn't even get all 14 of their own members to sign on to it, then how can the author possibly make the case that the plan is so popular that it needs to be adopted wholesale?

Mitt Romney thinks it's terrible that the President “simply brushed aside” those recommendations, but if the recommendations had so little support in the first place, than what's the big deal?

And sorry, but I paid close attention to what the deal was projected to be. It thoroughly deserved the name "Cat Food Commission" because under it, senior citizens would have felt lucky to be having a can of cat food for dinner. It was an awful plan that cut into benefits for citizens far too deeply.

Monday, February 20, 2012


It never ceases to amaze me that people who worked for G.W. Bush have any political credibility whatsoever or are considered to be "Very Serious People" on economics. Republican Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is occasionally mentioned as a presidential contender, but the tax cuts he did much to get through did little or no good for the economy and on the larger economic questions, the ideas that Daniels pushed are what Paul Krugman refers to as "austerity economics," and they've proven to be utterly disastrous in practice. Amazingly enough, Daniels is even considered to be an acceptable emergency fill-in substitute presidential candidate for Mitt Romney by “ 'the adults' in the [Republican] party."
Thomas Friedman, the poor man's "deep thinker," is pushing for David Walker, who headed up the Government Accountability Office from 1998 to 2008 before leaving to take the helm as President of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Again, this is an economist who has little or nothing to recommend him. Walker was conducting "a 'fiscal wake-up tour' around the country in the years 2004-2008 to try to call attention to the problem of the budget deficit." Problem of course, was that the housing bubble popped during this tour and promptly caused far more misery and havoc than anything that Walker was busy earnestly warning the country about. I didn't find any evidence that Mitch Daniels had any opinions about the housing bubble during this critical time. To be fair, Daniels was busy being Governor of Indiana during that time, but it's most curious how no reporter is known to have ever asked Daniels why he missed the housing bubble.
What's truly amazing is that these are people who completely failed the country during a time when sensible economists were very sorely needed. Why are they being considered "Very Serious People" today?!?!!?