NONE PHONIER! Gene Robinson flipped on the middle-class cuts, maintaining his standing on cable: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2010
Friday night is for messin with Texas: Last Friday night, Rachel Maddow pleased liberals again, extending her fact-challenged culture war against the red state of Texas.
A few Fridays ago, the lady offered a fact-challenged piece about the states deeply vile boxing commission. (Yes, you read that correctly. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/19/10.) This week, it was a vile decision by the states film commission which called down the wrath of the gods.
To watch Maddows full presentation, well suggest that you simply click here. Warning: Rather typically, this report starts with an irrelevant recollection of something the wondrous broadcaster did when she was 19 years old. Second warning: We found this report to be rather fact-challenged when we fact-checked it over the weekend
That said, Maddows report does mess with Texas, if its culture war you like. This leads us to our final warning:
Culture war divides the masses. As we move toward plutocracy, fact-challenged, ginned-up culture war just helps the oligarchs win.
Maddow makes $2 million per year. To her, is this bull-crap just fun?
NONE PHONIER (permalink): In Mondays Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria didnt seem pleased with the proposed tax deal. Beyond that, he offered an account of the plan which struck us as strikingly odd.
Zakaria thinks the plan is a dudbut how much does he think the plan costs? We found this capsule account rather odd, on both the facts and the logic:
Say what? That account of the plan struck us as quite odd. But then, this is a world in which information has become optional. Logic seems optional too.
Ignore Zakarias opening comment, which strikes us as basically fatuous. (The best one can say about this plan is that it will do short-term goodat long-term cost? Duh. As everyone knows, this plan has been proposed as a type of stimulus. By definition, this involves running short-term deficits, to be paid for later. Thats the whole idea.)
That opening comment struck us as fatuous. But we were puzzled when Zakaria described the dollar amounts involved in this plan. Reading this column, a person would think that the plan involves a trillion dollars in costs$250 billion for the stuff which may work, plus an additional $750 billion for extending the Bush tax cuts. But as far as we know, absolutely no one else prices those tax cut extensions that way. Since Saturday, the Post has been using a vastly different figure in its reporting$858 billionas the total cost of the package. (For one example from last Saturday, just click here.) But then, this is the official figure from the Joint Tax Committee of the Congress. Everyone is using that figureuntil you reach the Post op-ed page, where the price tag shoots up.
Does the Washington Post still have editors? In its news reporting, readers are told that this proposed plan costs a total of $858 billion. Inside, on the op-ed page, they get to read something quite different.
One other point: Did Obama agree to an extension of the Bush tax cuts in order to get those other measuresthe ones which cost $250 billion? Zakarias logic seems AWOL here too. As everyone knows, Obama has always proposed extending the bulk of the Bush tax cutsthe cuts on income below $250,000. When he agreed to extend those cuts, he was agreeing to a measure he had always proposed! But so what? In Zakarias puzzling column, Obama agreed to $750 billion in tax cutsall so he could get $250 billion of other measures. Zakarias numbers seem to be wrong. But then again, so does his logic.
Might we note one other problem with Zakarias logic? In the passage weve quoted, he says the plans cut in payroll taxes is likely to have a significant effect in stimulating the economy. By implication, he then says the plans cut in income taxes isnt likely to have that effect. But does that really make sense? In 2011, many middle-class pay checks will be larger than they otherwise would have been due to each of these provisions. But according to Zakaria, one bump in those pay checks will stimulate the economy; the other bump in those same checks will not.
So it goes when famous columnists torture logic and fact to pimp their view of a major proposal. In this case, fact and logic are being tortured by someone who opposes the plan. But then, the same sorts of torture seemed to occur when Gene Robinson wrote a column last Friday in which he endorsed the proposed budget deal.
How tormented was Robinsons support for the plan? His column appeared beneath this headline: Democrats have no choice but to accept an irresponsible tax deal.
Say what? If the plan is irresponsible, why would anyone have to accept it? As far as we know, Robinson didnt write that headline, but it captured the chaos in his piece, in which Robinson showed us, once again, that the biggest politicians in Washington are often the world-famous pundits.
Robinsons piece appeared last Friday. He went to great lengths to say how much he hates the proposed tax plan, which is lousy and quite awful. Did Zakaria copy off Robinsons paper? As he started, Robinson explained why he hates the planand he seemed to prefigure major elements of Zakarias later column:
As Zakaria would do three days later, Robinson put the cost of the plan at nearly $1 trillion. (In fairness to Robinson, the official estimate hadnt yet been released. This explanation isnt available to Zakaria.) But as Robinson explained what was wrong with the plan, he made the very same complaints Zakaria would make three days later. He said the cuts in payroll taxes will provide stimulusbut he implied that the cuts in income taxes will not. He complained about all the borrowing; he said the money could be invested in much more productive ways. But he then went on to endorse the plan; congressional Democrats should hold their noses and approve the thing, he said, since they cant expect to get a better deal from Republicans.
You may agree with that assessment; you may agree that this plan is better than what will result if it gets voted down. But Robinson went out of his way to say how awful he thinks the plan is. In this passage, he wrings his hands about all that deficit spending:
The plan is unconscionable and irresponsible, Robinson says. Rather plainly, he seems to include the cost of those middle-class tax cuts (which wont provide any stimulus) when he renders this judgment.
How fake, how phony, are your big famous pundits? In this passage, Robinson wrings his hands at all that deficit spending. He seems to sneer at the idea of extending the tax cuts; rather plainly, this seems include the middle-class tax cuts, too. That same night, Robinson went on Countdown and said it had been physically painful to write a column endorsing this rotten plan. In this way, he maintained his good standing as a True Cable Liberalbut he got to maintain his support of Obama at the same time.
What is so phony about this column? As recently as November 12, Robinson was rather aggressively supporting extension of those middle-class tax cuts! Saying they were desperately needed, he ridiculed Democrats for not standing firm on their preferred course of action:
In that column, it was abundantly clear that Robinson supported extending the middle-class cuts. He said the cuts were desperately needed. Americans supported extending those tax cuts, he said; given that level of public support, it was incredible to think that the White House might capitulate to the GOP and extend the upper-end cuts too. Rather plainly, Robinson thought the Democrats should stick to their preferred course of action, which is to extend the full tax cuts only for those making less than $250,000 a year.
Lets review. As recently as November 12, Robinson aggressively supported extending the middle-class tax cuts. One month later, without explanation, he executed a massive flip. Those cuts no longer seemed to be desperately needed; they were now part of the problem with this irresponsible plan. They would provide no stimulus, Robinson saidand they would run up the deficit. To all appearances, those middle-class tax cuts now help make this plan lousy.
Why did Robinson flip his position? Just a guess: This flip-flop let him bellow with rage at how bad the budget deal is, as all professional liberals must do in the current climate. In dollar terms, the middle-class tax cuts are the largest component of the proposed budget deal. If Robinson still favored those cuts, along with the other components he favors, it would be hard to see why he would think the overall deal was so bad. But around the cluster liberal world, youre no one if you arent outraged by this quite awful deal. So without explanation, Robinson flipped on the middle-class cuts, which were desperately needed just one month ago. This gave him a way to voice his outrage about the plan, even as he kept faith with Obama by endorsing the lousy proposal.
He loved the cuts one month ago. By last Friday, he seemed to hate them. Is anyone phonier in D.C. than reigning cable gods?