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Sessions Not Happy Being Called Wonk McCarthyite: Jonathan Chait Replies: Sessions Is Not Even a Wonk McCarthyite


Nobody has any business working for these Republicans. Nobody.

Jonathan Chait:

Sessions Not Happy Being Called Wonk McCarthyite: Last week, I wrote an item that made what can only be called a highly unflattering assessment of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. Sessions touted a study from the General Accounting Office that, he claimed, proved that Obamacare’s fiscal assumptions were lies and that the law would increase the deficit…. [T]he report showed no such thing…. I called Sessions a “Wonk McCarthyite,” and illustrated his fallacious reasoning with a tongue-in-cheek analogy to my asking the GAO to assume that Sessions were to acquire a nuclear weapon and detonate it in Manhattan, and then touting this report as finding that Sessions was going to murder 4 million people….

I have further explored the matter at length and determined that, in my haste, I treated Senator Sessions’s claims far too generously. Senator Sessions’s combination of ignorance and gross lack of intellectual standards turns out to be even more horrifying than I managed to initially communicate. Calling Sessions a "wonk McCarthyite" implies a level of policy understanding on his part that is wholly unsupported by the facts.

I would first like to concede one point of neglect. The Republican Senate staff objects that my item failed to include a hyperlink to a post by Aaron Carroll…. I apologize for the oversight. Sessions’s office further contends that Carroll, whom it correctly if incompletely characterizes as “a pediatrician,” is not a reliable source on matters of health-care finance. I replied that I consider Carroll, who is also director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research at Indiana University, and a co-author of the respected health economics blog the Incidental Economist, a reliable source on these matters. We agreed to disagree on this point.

In my haste I… failed to adequately capture the staggering dishonesty in Sessions’s public claims…. The GAO study does not find that the tax increases in Obamacare fail to cover its spending. The study, in fact, does not measure the tax increases at all…. The report assumed… that all the higher tax in the law disappeared after 2020. You may be wondering why the report did such an incredibly odd thing…. The Government Accounting Office is a kind of in-house think-tank for Congress… members of Congress can order up reports in order to advance their chosen agenda…. Congress can set the parameters of that analysis….

GAO agreed, in response [to Sessions], to publish a study that would measure the costs of Obamacare but not its net effect on the deficit…. Sessions falsely claimed the study concluded something completely at odds with its actual findings.

In sum, I apologize to my readers, the citizens of Alabama, budget fans, and other concerned citizens for failing in my original post to adequately convey the full paucity of the intellectual standards of the junior senator from Alabama.

I hope I have rectified my failure here.