Rebuttals to right-wing talking-points misinformation that I want to have at the forefront of my brain--for when I am surprised, as I will be, by an unexpected question from an unexpected direction while talking to reporters, phone callers, passers-by, radio interviewers, cable TV interviewers, etc....
A baker's dozen:
Republican fake claims that the stimulus was too large: Rebutted by former Reagan CEA Chair Martin Feldstein: "As for the "stimulus" package, both its size and structure were inadequate to offset the enormous decline in aggregate demand. The fall in household wealth by the end of 2008 reduced the annual level of consumer spending by more than $500 billion. The drop in home building subtracted another $200 billion from GDP. The total GDP shortfall was therefore more than $700 billion. The Obama stimulus package that started at less than $300 billion in 2009 and reached a maximum of $400 billion in 2010 wouldn't have been big enough to fill the $700 billion annual GDP gap even if every dollar of the stimulus raised GDP by a dollar.... Experience shows that the most cost-effective form of temporary fiscal stimulus is direct government spending.... President Obama allowed the Democratic leadership in Congress to design a hodgepodge package of transfers to state and local governments, increased transfers to individuals, temporary tax cuts for lower-income taxpayers, etc. So we got a bigger deficit without economic growth..."
Tim Pawlenty's fake claim that tax cuts almost always raise revenue: Rebutted by former Jack Kemp aide Bruce Bartlett: "During the George W. Bush years, however, I think SSE became distorted into something that is, frankly, nuts--the ideas that there is no economic problem that cannot be cured with more and bigger tax cuts, that all tax cuts are equally beneficial, and that all tax cuts raise revenue. These incorrect ideas led to the enactment of many tax cuts that had no meaningful effect on economic performance. Many were just give-aways to favored Republican constituencies, little different, substantively, from government spending. What, after all, is the difference between a direct spending program and a refundable tax credit? Nothing, really, except that Republicans oppose the first because it represents Big Government while they support the latter because it is a "tax cut." I think these sorts of semantic differences cloud economic decisionmaking rather than contributing to it..."
Republican fake claims that Medicare is the inefficient and wasteful part of the American health care system: Rebutted by Ezra Klein: "It is quite a bit less expensive than private insurance.... What’s odd about Medicare, however, is that it’s also a lot more expensive than... the Veterans Administration or Medicaid... than Canada’s health-care system... or than Britain’s or Germany’s or France’s.... Maybe our government is, for various reasons, simply much less willing to squeeze providers and drug and device manufacturers. Note that when Republicans passed the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, they prohibited Medicare from negotiating any discounts on drug prices whatsoever, and though Democrats furiously opposed that rule, they couldn’t muster the votes to overturn it during health-care reform. Nevertheless, this means that the closest thing to a surefire way to cut costs into Medicare is to make it bigger, which in turn gives it more clout. Letting adults between 55 and 65 buy into the program would’ve helped with that, though probably not so much that it would’ve made a difference. A public option that partnered with Medicare for bargaining purposes and was open to everyone would’ve been more of a gamechanger..."
Fake McKinsey claims that one-third of employers will drop employer-sponsored health insurance because of the PPACA: Rebutted by anonymous McKinsey analysts: "A McKinsey spokesperson... [said] that, for the moment, McKinsey will let the study speak for itself. However, McKinsey notes that the survey is only one indicator of employers' potential future actions.... The three authors of the report were not immediately available for comment. Another keyed-in source says McKinsey is unlikely to release the survey materials because "it would be damaging to them." Both sources disagree with the results of the survey, which was devised by consultants without particular expertise in this area, not by the firm's health experts..."
Tim Pawlenty used to be in favor of health-care mandates: Former Pawlenty staffer Paul Ludeman says: "Minnesota’s exchange proposal would have required all employers with more than 10 employees to create a “section 125 plan” so workers could buy cheaper insurance with pre-tax dollars. During a 2007 news conference, Pawlenty said launching such a system would only cost employers about $300..."
RERUN: Republican claims that cutting the deficit now is the key to recovery: Lawrence Summers: "[T]he greatest threat to our creditworthiness is a sustained period of slow growth. Discussions about medium-term austerity need to be coupled with a focus on near-term growth. Without the payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance negotiated last autumn we might now be looking at the possibility of a double dip. Substantial withdrawal of fiscal stimulus at the end of 2011 would be premature. Stimulus should be continued and indeed expanded..."
RERUN: Fake Republican claims that discretionary spending has risen by 80% under Obama: Paul Krugman: "Politifact has now updated its work on the claim, universal on the right — and repeated often by Paul Ryan — that discretionary non-defense spending is up 80 percent under Obama. It’s completely false. As anyone who knows how to read federal statistics should have known, the real number — including the stimulus — is 26 percent. And it’s now in the process of falling off. The discretionary spending falsehood is a key part of the claim that Obama has presided over a vast expansion of government; as I’ve tried to explain, the only real area of rapid growth has been in safety net programs that spend more when there is high unemployment..."
RERUN: Douglas Holtz-Eakin's claim that it would be better to default than to pass a clean increase in the debt ceiling: [Rebutted by] Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a top Republican advisor and former CBO director, [who] warned in a panel discussion this week that creditors would not be easily reassured after a default: "The idea that somehow it's a pro-growth strategy to raise interest rates on a permanent basis in the United States is just crazy," he said. "We need to grow at this point more than anything else."
RERUN: Republican claims that we need big federal spending cuts now: Jeanne Sahadi talks to the real--rather than the phony Republican--deficit hawks: "Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. 'A sharp fiscal consolidation focused on the very near term could be self-defeating if it were to undercut the still-fragile recovery.'... 'The short-term deficit isn't the problem', said former U.S. Comptroller David Walker.... Walker... thinks lawmakers should consider spending several hundred billion dollars in the short-run to make strategic investments in areas such as surface transportation, alternative energy and research and development.... Alice Rivlin... 'if you just slash spending now or if you raise taxes right now -- that's a very bad thing to do as the economy is beginning to strengthen'. Rivlin would prefer if lawmakers offer additional aid to state and local governments to prevent more layoffs.... Ken Rogoff.... 'The important thing to do is structural reform. Make us grow faster. Improve our tax system, build infrastructure, education, view it as a crisis in that way.... I certainly don't think slashing budgets at some last-minute deal is the way to go about business.'"
RERUN: Tax cuts will speed economic growth: Paul Krugman: "CBPP reminds us that the Bush tax cuts totally failed to deliver, even before the financial collapse.... [T]he story is even worse for believers in tax-cut magic if you include the Clinton years; some of us remember the confident predictions that the 1993 tax hike would lead to a catastrophic recession. You might have thought that an ideology that failed so dramatically would have been to at least some extent abandoned. But noooo: belief in tax-cut magic is central to the Ryan plan, and aspiring GOP candidates like Pawlenty seem to be in a race to see who can go more overboard in supply-side faith. Oh, and if you don’t believe their claims, you don’t trust the American people. What will it take before the GOP drops voodoo as its official religion?"
RERUN: Republican claims that Peter Diamond is unqualified to be on the Federal Reserve: Clive Crook: "Peter Diamond's decision to withdraw from contention for a seat on the Fed board is a very low moment in US politics. Diamond is an indisputably brilliant economist with no ideological baggage and highly relevant expertise--contrary to what his GOP critics say, and as he explains in his NYT article. It ought to be shocking, but it no longer is, that a man of his distinction could not get confirmed to the position. At times the US seems a country hell-bent on its own failure."
RERUN: "Deficit-Hawk Paul Ryan": Jonathan Chait: "Stop calling Ryan a "deficit hawk." He voted for all of Bush's tax cuts. He voted for all the wars. He voted for Bush's Medicare prescription drug bill. He voted against the deficit-reducing Affordable Care Act. He voted against the Bowles-Simpson plan. He opposes any deficit reduction plan that increases revenue. Ryan is anti-government but he is clearly not a deficit hawk..."
RERUN: Mitt Romney's claim that we are only inches away from ceasing to be a free market economy: Buce: "[W]hen Mitt Romney says that we are 'only inches away from ceasing to be a free market economy', you'd just have to write it up as an arrogant, insolent, baldfaced lie. Which is pretty much what they are calling it over at Politifact, the Poynter journalistic fact-checker (sourced, ironically, in large measure, to those bomb-throwing insurrectionists at the Heritage Foundation).... [T]he US ranks ninth from the top "freest") out of 179.... None of this is surprising to anyone of even mildly wonky sentiments, a group which clearly includes Romney himself. But here's an extra irony I hadn't noticed before: health care. Namely that every one of those top eight has some kind of universal public health care. And they virtually all get better results than the US has, and at substantially less cost.... I dunno, maybe Romney (who can clearly say anything with the same schoolboy grin) will soon be telling us that Singapore and Hong Kong (and Switzerland, and Denmark, and Canada, and Ireland, and New Zealand, and Australia) are just mired in post-Leninist purgatory. Others might say otherwise: they might say it shows that freedom can be enhanced (even on a Heritage definition) by the right kind of government intervention. Like, say, in Massachusetts..."