Howling Dog Graphic
Point. Click. Search.

Contents: Archives:

Search this weblog
Search WWW
Howler Graphic
by Bob Somerby
E-mail This Page
Socrates Reads Graphic
A companion site.

Site maintained by Allegro Web Communications, comments to Marc.

Howler title Graphic
Caveat lector

29 January 2002

Our current howler (part III): Spinning Tom

Synopsis: It’s worth reviewing what Daschle said—because the wranglers, just that fast, started lying.

Bring war or peace, senator proposes taxes
Rush Limbaugh, The Washington Times, 1/10/02

Taxation in Daschle-land
Donald Lambro, The Washington Times, 1/10/02

Demagoguing the tax cuts
Joseph Perkins, The Washington Times, 1/18/02

The disagreement is easy to splain. In the areas in question, Bush wants taxes to go down. Kennedy wants taxes to stay the same. But that would have sounded way too simple and sensible, so the wranglers began to feed the herd. Ted wants to raise taxes, they bellowed. And they found many slick ways to do it (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/26/02).

And the same thing had happened with Daschle! On January 4, Tommy gave a speech which dissed Bush’s cuts. But what had caused the current recession? He did not pin the blame on the tax cuts:

DASCHLE: By 2000, not only was the deficit gone, we had a record $236 billion surplus, and that surplus was expected to increase dramatically for years…For the first time in a generation, both our short- term and our long-term economic positions appeared strong.

Then the inevitable happened. Our economy started to cool. By last March we know now the expansion was officially over and a recession had begun. Every economic boom eventually slows down. When that happens, the question is not who is to blame, but what do we do to get the economy growing again?

Why did the economy slow? According to Daschle, "the inevitable happened." Twarn’t a matter of who we should blame.

Clearly, Daschle didn’t say that Bush’s cuts caused the recession. He did, however, say that the cuts damaged our fiscal situation:

DASCHLE: There are those who say the reason the surplus deteriorated so quickly is the attacks on America and the war against terrorism. Well, clearly, September 11th was a blow to our economy…But September 11th and the war aren’t the only reasons the surplus is nearly gone. They’re not even the biggest reason. The biggest reason is the tax cut.

In May, the Congressional Budget Office reported a 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion. By the end of the year, $3.7 trillion of that was gone. Nearly half of that was a direct result of the tax cut. The tax cut was by far the largest factor.

Key point: When Daschle called Bush’s cuts the biggest cause of the dwindling surplus, he was talking about the ten-year surplus projections, not the current, single-year budget.

And Tommy made hisself one last point. The cuts may have made the recession worse, he figgered:

DASCHLE: Investors understand that the dwindling surplus means the federal government may have to borrow money soon, or at the very least, won’t be paying down nearly as much of the debt as had been expected. That is keeping long-term interest rates higher than they would have been.

And the continued high interest rates and the adverse impact on investor confidence, in turn, leads to less investment, less consumption, more job loss, and bigger deficits. That’s the hidden tax of the current fiscal policy.

So not only did the tax cut fail to prevent a recession as its supporters said it would, it probably made the recession worse.

Was Tommy right in these three claims? Here at THE HOWLER, we report, you decide. But when Tommy offered his basic points, the wranglers wanted to quiet the herd. You know the game—they started lying. You should know what the slickers done said.

One sweet trick was to pretend that Daschle blamed this year’s deficit on the cuts. Rush was quickly driving the herd in the pages of the Washington Times:

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Mr. Daschle claims Mr. Bush’s tax cut, which goes "disproportionately to the most affluent," is the "biggest reason" for lower surpluses. He’s wrong. The top marginal tax rate will be reduced from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, beginning in fiscal 2006. This has nothing to do with unmet fiscal 2002 revenue projections. [emphasis added]

Sweet, eh? Bravely, Rush set up a straw man, then knocked it right down. Many wranglers played this game, tossing slick slop to the herd. For example, Don Lambro is one of our greatest dissemblers. So we’ll show you how fully he milked it:

LAMBRO: And, finally, we get to the utterly dishonest argument made by Mr. Daschle that the Bush tax cuts are erasing the projected surpluses…

Last summer, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecast that the budget surplus for the current 2002 fiscal year would total $313 billion. The tax cuts will total $38 billion for this period. Even when you factor in the additional money to respond to the terrorist attacks, that leaves more than $200 billion in surplus revenue. What happened to it?

What happened was what anyone in business understands. The recession caused projected tax revenues to slow down dramatically, erasing the surplus.

Someone has to ask Mr. Daschle how can a $38 billion tax cut erase a $313 billion surplus in one year?

Cattle love that misdirection. And oh yes, Don also said this:

LAMBRO: Mr. Daschle says Mr. Bush’s tax cuts are the chief reason we are in a recession.

Hay-yo! But then, the day before, in an "analysis" piece, Lambro said, "Mr. Daschle…delivered a stinging election-year kickoff speech Friday blaming President Bush and the Republicans for the recession." Moo, cow, moo!

One last semi-comical point. Do you see something missing as Joseph Perkins "quotes" Tommy’s comments about the cuts? This "quote" came only after Perkins played the one-year-versus-ten-years straw game:

KEMP: But Mr. Daschle even tries to make a cause-and-effect connection between the tax cuts and the recession. "Not only did the tax cut fail to prevent a recession," quoth the Senate majority leader, "it probably made the recession worse."

The herders all knew how to "quote" Our Tom. Like a string of other wranglers, Perkins dropped one part of what he said. Daschle actually said, "The tax cut failed to prevent a recession as its supporters said it would." All the herders knew the cattle should be spared that highlighted clause. Jack Kemp, you dumped it too, you slick old trail boss, you!

Anyway, a lot of cattle are being stampeded as the president’s cuts are discussed this week. Don’t let the herders sell you their bull. As Stephen Dinan managed to say in a 1/24 news report in the Washington Times, the tax cuts are responsible for 41 percent of the missing surplus over the next ten years. The wranglers will try to make you look at this year. They’re feeding the cows. Just ignore them.

Next: When Bernie met Marvin!


The Daily update (1/29/02)

She simply never misses: Nasty loudmouth Michelle Malkin never fails to entertain. Here she was in the Washington Times just this past Saturday morning:

MALKIN: Murderous thugs of the world, rejoice. Once again, Ramsey Clark has come to your aid—whether you want him to or not. Now, if only Mr. Clark would permanently move himself and his "Terrorists ‘R Us" law practice to a sand dune outpost in Kandahar, Afghanistan, we’d all have something to cheer…

In addition to steam baths and pedicures, Ramsey Clark & Co. want "due process" for the al Qaeda operatives whom they claim are prisoners of war covered by the Third Geneva Convention. But no serious reading of international law allows the al Qaeda detainees to be defined as POWs. [emphasis added]

It was vintage Malkin. What "serious" person could possibly think that the detainees should be POWs? Clark was "far less concerned with freeing the innocent than with allying himself with America’s enemies," Malkin said. Indeed, the firebrand almost had us going. But then on page one, we read this:

SCARBOROUGH: Secretary of State Colin Powell has asked President Bush to reverse the president's position on al Qaeda and Taliban detainees and declare them prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention.

Hay-yo! Same day! Very same paper! Maybe Malkin should return to what she does best—finding the random high school kid she can trash as an "anti-American."

Counsel Clark for unlawful warriors
Michelle Malkin, The Washington Times, 1/26/02

Powell wants detainees to be declared POWs
Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times, 1/26/02