The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Economics, Politics and Propaganda

Posted on | September 7, 2010 | 12 Comments

If the New York Times is going to add an economist as a columnist, who do you think they’re going to pick? Perhaps someone like Thomas Sowell, whose free-market arguments could balance the neo-Keynesianism of Paul Krugman?

Of course not. They bring aboard Peter Orszag, who until recently was Obama’s director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, and a former Clinton administration economic adviser. His track record? In a classic of shortsightedness, Orzag co-authored a 2002 policy paper that asserted “the risk to the government from a potential default on [Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac] debt is effectively zero.”

Orzag’s Monday column urged Congress to “continue the [Bush] tax cuts for two years but end them for good in 2013.” Francis Cianfrocca responds at the New Ledger:

For some reason, I had thought Peter Orszag was an economist. But his arguments in today’s New York Times at every turn are based only on political calculations, particularly as regards the difficulty of getting Dems and Reps to agree on anything. His plan (extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone for two years) is attractive not for any economic sense it might make, but because it’s possible. Serendipitously, the tax cuts will end automatically, while every other outcome requires a vote in Congress.
And there’s not a nod given to the raging policy debate, which is: why isn’t the economy actually recovering, despite a huge stimulus and zero interest rates? His plan simply assumes a strong traditional recovery will be underway by 2013. If you can’t raise taxes now because of the hurt you’re putting on consumption, then on what basis do you think you’ll be able to in two years? Things might not be much better by then. Just like the “Summer of Recovery” marketing plan, this is based on assuming that a recovery will simply materialize. . . .

Please read the whole thing. Orzag assumes as a premise of his syllogism what is, in fact, a dubious thesis: That Keynesian stimulus actually works. Orzag further seems to assume that “tax cuts for the rich” cause deficits when, in fact, the federal deficit is caused by overspending, rather than by undertaxation.

By offering political assertions under the guise of economic “expertise,” Orzag is engaged in propaganda. Glad somebody called him out on it.


12 Responses to “Economics, Politics and Propaganda”

  1. Randy Rager
    September 7th, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

    If a government multiplier for stimulus actually existed, then handing out money would create wealth.

    Krugman is the dumbest sumbitch ever to wear the title “economist”, and should be ignored forthwith and with prejudice.

  2. Mark J. Goluskin
    September 7th, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

    Of course this should come as no surprise. This is the same fish wrap that can not seem to find an actual conservative to write in the op-ed section. Whodat, or Douhat, is the current incarnation. Oh well.

  3. Bob Hawkins
    September 7th, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

    When the NYT bought the Boston Globe, the Globe already had a very good economics columnist named David Warsh
    . Warsh is a standard-issue liberal, as you’d expect from the fact the Globe hired him, but he knew some economics and took it seriously.

    That was a crippling disadvantage. It had led him, for example, to write a column explaining that economists actually do agree on a number of important points. However, every one of these points violates liberal orthodoxy, therefore the press never talks about them. And the impression is given that economists never agree on anything.

    So when the NYT bought the Globe, Warsh was out. If the Times was interested in an economics columnist who knew his stuff and wrote about it honestly, well, they should have Warsh’s address in their records.

  4. keyboard jockey
    September 7th, 2010 @ 6:07 pm
  5. daveinboca
    September 8th, 2010 @ 1:43 am

    The Democrats are simply all about process, and are flailing to find the magic button or soft spot to apply their extortions which they call “contributions.”

    The Ponzi politics that the $50 billion Dear Leader Obama talked about in Milwaukee is transparently a bribe to unions—no non-union projects will receive any monies whatsoever. Pay off the thugs and the rest will wallow.

    Democrats have one principle: “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.”

    This half-baked tyro is turning out to be all smoke and mirrors. DL Obama has no substance and the Dem congress is going to evaporate like the committee hearings that were never held for the trillion-dollar [and counting] health care fiasco. And the monster Obamacare is so full of unconstitutional absurdities—buy health insurance or go to jail—that in the future he’ll be known as a biyotch POTUS.

  6. Flexo
    September 8th, 2010 @ 2:44 am

    This tool Orszag is engaged to ABC newsbabe Bianna Golodryga.