Let me point out that Niall Ferguson cannot even correctly repeat the Republican talking point that was faxed to him. It's "nearly half the population doesn't pay federal income taxes", not "nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return". We run our principal make-work-pay program--the Earned Income Tax Credit--through the IRS and through form 1040. If you receive anything from the EITC, you are represented on a taxable return.
I knew Ferguson was out of his depth on monetary policy. I hadn't known he was out of his depth on so many other issues as well.
Outsourced to Scott Lemieux:
Hacktacular! - Lawyers, Guns & Money: There are indeed a substantial number of erroneous arguments in Niall Ferguson’s profoundly embarrassing op-ed, but I thought I’d focus on this one:
Welcome to Obama’s America: nearly half the population is not represented on a taxable return—almost exactly the same proportion that lives in a household where at least one member receives some type of government benefit. We are becoming the 50–50 nation—half of us paying the taxes, the other half receiving the benefits.
There are people willing to assert that the only taxes people pay are federal income taxes. There are people who have some business being paid to write essays. And there’s certainly no overlap between these two categories.
I could proceed to talk about his ridiculous claims that the ACA did nothing to address Medicare costs (oddly, the candidate Ferguson favors seems unaware of this), or his foolish assertions about Paul Ryan, but really, after that addressing his argument further would be superfluous. It’s a Renew America column with a marginally larger vocabulary.
Incidentally, Ferguson shows up in Annie Lowrey’s piece about conservative “intellectuals” who are bowled over by Paul Ryan. It seems odd that a transparent fraud like Ryan could get the reputation as some sort of wonk, but when you see what passes for an intellectual in Republican circles it starts to make sense.