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:
Obama's claims to be restoring the rule of law in America: Rebutted by Jack Balkin: "George W. Bush... sought legal justification for his decision to engage in... torture. Bush wanted above all to be able to deny that he was violating the anti-torture statute and other laws and treaties. So he found a small group of lawyers in the OLC, headed by John Yoo, and asked for their opinions. This short-circuited the usual process.... Obama routed around the OLC, asking for opinions from various lawyers, including the White House Counsel and the Attorney-Advisor for the State Department. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that from the outset Obama was prospecting for opinions that would tell him that his actions were legal, and once he found them, he felt comfortable in rejecting the opinion of the OLC.... By bypassing a careful set of procedures designed to produce careful legal opinions, George W. Bush... was effectively undermining the OLC's function as an honest broker of executive branch opinions. Obama also bypassed this same careful set of procedures by canvassing various lawyers until he found opinions he liked better than the OLC's. If one is disturbed by Bush's misuse of the process for vetting legal questions, one should be equally disturbed by Obama's irregular procedures..."
George Will's claim that ""Conservatism is true... rooted in reality... starts not from an imagined society but from the world as it actually exists": Rebutted by Fareed Zakaria: "Consider the... economy. The Republican prescription is to cut taxes and slash government spending — then things will bounce back.... [w]hat is the evidence that tax cuts are the best path to revive the U.S. economy?... [T]he case that America is grinding to a halt because of high taxation is not based on facts but is simply a theoretical assertion. The rich countries that are in the best shape right now, with strong growth and low unemployment, are ones like Germany and Denmark, neither one characterized by low taxes. Many Republican businessmen have told me that the Obama Administration is the most hostile to business in 50 years. Really? More than that of Richard Nixon, who presided over tax rates that reached 70%, regulations that spanned whole industries, and who actually instituted price and wage controls?... [D]iscussion of government involvement in the economy — even to build vital infrastructure — is impossible because it is a cardinal tenet of the new conservatism that such involvement is always and forever bad. Meanwhile, across the globe, the world's fastest-growing economy, China, has managed to use government involvement to create growth and jobs for three decades. From Singapore to South Korea to Germany to Canada, evidence abounds that some strategic actions by the government can act as catalysts for free-market growth..."
David Brooks's claim that the housing crash was Fannie Mae's fault: Rebutted by Dean Baker: Just to be clear, Fannie and Freddie were serious bad actors.... It is incredible that they did not recognize the housing bubble.... As much as Fannie and Freddie deserve blame for incompetence and corruption, no serious person can make them the main culprits in this story. The Wall Street crew made hundreds of billions on pushing fraudulent mortgages. Furthermore, if... Greenspan had paid attention... he would have had the Fed's staff devoted full-time to document the evidence for the housing bubble and he would have used every public appearance (e.g. congressional testimonies, public speeches, international forums) to warn of the risks posed by the housing bubble. He also would have used the Fed's full regulatory authority to police the mortgage issuing practices of the banks under its supervision.... My guess is that these actions would have by themselves crashed the bubble and done so long before it grew to such dangerous levels. They would be essentially costless, so it is difficult to see why a vigilant Fed chair would not have followed this route..."
Republican Senator Orrin Hatch's fake claim that Medicaid coverage is worse than none at all: Rebutted by Judy Solomon: "Studies that appropriately adjust for the fact that Medicaid enrollees tend to be both sick and poor, as well as other factors that can skew results, “have consistently found that Medicaid coverage leads to health improvements,” conclude the authors, who include noted health policy experts Austin Frakt and Uwe Reinhardt. George Washington University professors Leighton Ku and Christine Ferguson also point out that Gottlieb confuses causation and correlation: “Patients often become eligible for Medicaid as a result of being sick,” they write. “It is not that Medicaid enrollment causes ill health, but that ill health leads to Medicaid enrollment.” To be sure, adequate access to physicians — particularly specialists — remains a concern in Medicaid, as a new study notes. But Ku and Ferguson cite abundant evidence that people have much better access to health care when they have Medicaid than when they are uninsured..."
RERUN: 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. Its interest rate would be much, much higher. Lack of confidence in America would be disastrous for bond values. Enough said.
RERUN: 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..."
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 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: Elon Green: "MICHELLE BACHMANN WARNED ‘THE LION KING’ WAS GAY PROPAGANDA: At the November 2004 EdWatch National Education Conference, Bachmann said the “normalization” of homosexuality would lead to “desensitization”: “Very effective way to do this with a bunch of second graders, is take a picture of ‘The Lion King’ for instance, and a teacher might say, ‘Do you know that the music for this movie was written by a gay man?’ The message is: I’m better at what I do, because I’m gay.”"