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:
Clifford Asness's claim that it is not policy "uncertainty" that is hobbling recovery but rather the certainty that Obama's policies on the deficit, debt, and regulation are disastrous: If it was certain that they were disastrous, the 30-year Treasury bond would not be priced as it is. It's interest rate would be much, much higher. Lack of confidence in America would be disastrous for bond values. Enough said.
Republican claims that the economy does not need more quantitative easing: Rebutted by Joe Gagnon: "QE2 did work.... One element was of moderate importance, one element was of minor importance. The moderate one is that QE2 convinced markets that the Federal Reserve would not allow deflation or a double dip recession to happen.... While QE2 had good effects, it was too timid. A QE3 needs to be bigger than QE2 — you want to signal a larger amount. A trillion dollars sounds like a big number, but it isn’t like a trillion dollar tax cut. All it is is a swap of two different assets. Buying one kind, selling another..."
Republican claims that the debt ceiling should not be raised unless the Democrats agree to their budget: Rebutted by Ben Bernanke: "Failing to raise the debt ceiling in a timely way would be self-defeating if the objective is to chart a course toward a better fiscal situation for our nation..."
Republican claims that they do not want to cut benefits for current seniors: Rebutted by Brian Buetler: "The Medicare plan, as written, would attempt to preserve fee-for-service Medicare for people in or near retirement. But the overall GOP budget would also repeal the new health care reform law, which is already providing new benefits for current retirees -- including a rebate for those who fall into the so-called "donut hole" for prescription coverage and free annual checkups for all seniors. Those benefits would disappear if the GOP budget were implemented..."
RERUN: 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..."
RERUN: 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..."
RERUN: 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..."
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 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: 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..."
SPEAKS FOR ITSELF: Ron Paul: The First Amendment Establishes a Christian Religion for America: "I think faith has something to do with the character of the people who represent us and law should have a moral fiber too and our leaders should. We shouldn't expect, uh, us to try to change morality. You can't teach people how to be moral. But the Constitution addresses this by saying literally it says no theocracy but it doesn't talk about church and state. The most important thing is the First Amendment -- that Congress shall write no laws -- which means Congress should never prohibit the expression of your Christian faith in a public place..."