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For the Virtual Green Room: June 6, 2011

Rebuttals to right-wing fake talking points and misinformation that I want to have at the forefront of my brain.

I will be surprised by an unexpected question from an unexpected direction while talking to reporters, phone callers, passers-by, radio interviewers, cable TV interviewers, etc. These are the things I want to have at the forefront of my brain this morning:

A baker's dozen:

  1. The claim that if Medicare starts limiting the procedures it will pay for, this would be an infringement of your freedom of choice: Paul Krugman: "Nobody is proposing that the government deny you the right to have whatever medical care you want at your own expense. We’re only talking about what medical care will be paid for by the government. And right-wingers, of all people, shouldn’t believe that everyone has the right to have whatever they want, at taxpayers’ expense.... What will it take to shoot this zombie in the head?..."

  2. Peter Diamond unqualifed to be a Federal Reserve Governor: Peter Diamond: "Last October, I won the Nobel Prize in economics for my work on unemployment and the labor market. But I am unqualified to serve on the board of the Federal Reserve — at least according to the Republican senators who have blocked my nomination. How can this be? The easy answer is to point to shortcomings in our confirmation process and to partisan polarization in Washington. The more troubling answer, though... a failure to recognize that analysis of unemployment is crucial to conducting monetary policy.... The leading opponent to my appointment, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the committee, has questioned the relevance of my expertise. “Does Dr. Diamond have any experience in conducting monetary policy? No,” he said in March. “His academic work has been on pensions and labor market theory.” But understanding the labor market... is critical to devising an effective monetary policy..."

  3. Haley Barbour's claim that Obama is raising gas prices on purpose: The United States government does not control world oil prices--indeed, right now there is no swing producer that controls world oil prices: it is global supply and demand that set gas prices.

  4. Stephen L. Carter’s very bad Bloomberg column that demand is slack because of "uncertainty": Jim Henley: "We’ve worked for more than one business... we know the typical share-of-revenue that incremental labor expense takes across various business lines. and we have a lived understanding of all the uncertainties and risks attending pretty much any business. Comparing this last bundle of risks and uncertainties to the possible impact of regulatory change on additional incremental labor, we’re left with a set of reasonable possibilities.... 1) The guy is telling the truth, but his business is unusual.... 2) The guy is a blowhard whose business is doing worse than he says. 3) The guy is a moron or coward... leaving money on the table.... 4) The guy is a prophet who should liquidate his business immediately! Because any regulatory risk that applies to new workers he might hire that’s big enough to keep him from hiring more also applies to the workers he currently has on his payroll.... Any of these seems more plausible than Carter’s conclusion that this man’s story holds lessons for us all. It’s certainly suggestive that Carter describes his business as “low margin” but with demand picking up. If demand is picking up and he isn’t ramping production then either demand was really weak and is only getting back to normal, one or more of his competitors beat him to the punch on cranking up the volume, or nobody here knows how to play this game. The article reminds me of the criticism that intellectuals tend to lack real-world business experience.... Certainly Carter presents us with a piece of “pro-business” advocacy that suffers from apparent unfamiliarity with business..."

  5. RERUN: Paul Ryan's Claim that "Obamacare Ends Medicare As We Know It... creates this 15 panel board of unelected, unaccountable, bureaucrats starting next year to price control and ration Medicare": Igor Volsky: "It does no such thing.... The “15 panel board,” as Ryan calls it, is actually the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).... Ryan himself proposed a very similar commission in 2009.... In fact, Ryan’s Patients’ Choice Act (PCA) sought to establish 'two governmental bodies to broadly apply cost effectiveness research' and had more teeth than the ACA, including provisions to allow for penalties for physicians who did not follow the guidelines..."

  6. RERUN: John Taylor (and 149 other) Republican economists: "An increase in the national debt limit that is not accompanied by significant spending cuts and budget reforms to address our government’s spending addiction will harm private-sector job creation in America": Rebutted by John Taylor (and Robert Hall), Macroeconomics, 5th ed.: "We now know that an increase in government spending... increases the interest rate and increases income.... [T]he increase in government demand increases GDP through the multiplier.... [But] interest rates must [also] rise to offset the increase in money demand.... This increase in interest rates will reduce investment demand and net exports and thus offset some of the stimulus to GDP caused by government spending. The offsetting negative effect is crowding out.... An expansionary fiscal policy will have a relatively strong effect on aggregate demand if interest rates don't rise by much [when government spending increases]..."

  7. RERUN: Republican demand that TV station yank ad claiming GOP plan would `end Medicare’: Greg Sargent: "Attention, people, this is important: The battle over whether it’s true that the Republican plan would “end Medicare” is about to play out in a critical way in New Hampshire. The National Republican Congressional Committee, which oversees House races for the GOP, has written a sharply-worded letter demanding that a New Hampshire TV station yank an ad making that claim. Whether the ad gets taken down could help set a precedent for whether other stations will air Dem TV ads making this argument, which is expected to be a central message for Dems in the 2012 elections.... The argument is that the GOP plan would do away with the current, single payer, government-run system that guarantees payment for your major health care costs as you move into retirement. The GOP proposal would replace this with a system in which government gives premium support — that could over time fall short of health care costs — to seniors to purchase their own private plans. In other words, the new plan does away with the program we now call “Medicare” and replaces it with a different program — and hence “ends” it..." As Duncan Black says: "When the Republicans replace the Marines with a pizza, they will call the pizza 'The Marines'." That sums it up well.

  8. 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..."

  9. RERUN: Douglas Holtz-Eakin's claim that it would be reckless to pass a clean increase in the debt ceiling: Let's quote right-leaning Clive Crook again: "Tea Party true believers may be salivating.... Shutting down the government [by blocking the debt-ceiling increase is a button [Republicans] dare not press.... To do it in 2011, with the economy laid low and financial markets still twitchy, would be the limit of irresponsibility. It would be betting the recovery to make a point. This time, political annihilation might follow, and the party would deserve it..."

  10. RERUN: Robert Lucas's claim that Barack Obama's election has permanently depressed U.S. real GDP by 8%: Matthew Yglesias: "What’s happened, according to Lucas, is that Obama’s policies have caused us to deviate permanently to a lower, European-style growth path. The initiation of Social Security didn’t do that. Nor did its expansion in the 1950s. Nor did the creation of Medicare, Medicaid, Title I federal aid to schools or the War On Poverty. The Clean Air Act didn’t do it. Nor did the Clean Water Act or the Americans With Disabilities Act. George W Bush’s expansion of Medicare didn’t do it. Nothing about the growth of the welfare state in postwar America was able to jar America off the American-style growth path and put it on the European path. And then along came Barack Obama, the Affordable Care Act and a few other bills, and like magic we’re Sweden..... A leading economic scholar thinks Obama’s domestic agenda has been far-and-away the most consequential in American history. It’s kind of a big deal..."

  11. RERUN: Tim Pawlenty's claim that President Obama is setting up this false choice between default and raising the debt ceiling: Pawlenty claims "you can take away that false choice by ordering the Treasury to pay the obligations to outside creditors first..." Failing to pay people inside the United States to whom the U.S. government owes money has a name, Tim. It's name is "default." It's not an alternative to default, it's a type of default.

  12. RERUN: Glenn Hubbard's claim that Obama has "ruled out long-term entitlement spending restraint": Nancy Ann Min De Parle: "[T]he tools in the Affordable Care Act and other steps... already taken will save nearly $120 billion for Medicare over the next five years.... While we’ve made real and significant progress, there is more work to do... the President’s framework... includes reforms that would save at least an additional $200 billion for Medicare over the next decade. The framework would: (i) Bend the long-term cost curve by setting a more ambitious target of holding Medicare cost growth per beneficiary to GDP per capita plus 0.5 percent beginning in 2018, through strengthening the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). (ii) Reduce Medicare’s excessive spending on prescription drugs and lower premiums for beneficiaries without shifting costs to seniors or privatizing Medicare..."

  13. SPEAKS FOR ITSELF: Ryan Lizza: "As the Boston Phoenix pointed out, when "No Apology" was issued in paperback, in February, Romney made a notable change from the original version. In the hardcover, publish in early 2010, Romney, after reviewing the success of health care in Massachusetts, wrote, "We can accomplish the same for everyone in the country." In the paperback, the had been deleted."