Tuesday, October 12, 2004

You're telling lies thinking I can't see...

Paul Krugman is a national treasure. He has morphed from being merely the economic conscience of the NYTimes to being a full fledged observer of the whole body politic. He's not afraid to say what he believes, a trait sadly lacking in some of the mediacracy (note: possible new word coined here, with convenient pun value), and he's not afraid to criticize anyone whom he feels doesn't make sense, or worse, is at odds with the truth.

Today in the NYTimes:

Checking the Facts, in Advance

It's not hard to predict what President Bush, who sounds increasingly desperate, will say tomorrow. Here are eight lies or distortions you'll hear, and the truth about each:

Jobs Mr. Bush will talk about the 1.7 million jobs created since the summer of 2003, and will say that the economy is "strong and getting stronger." That's like boasting about getting a D on your final exam, when you flunked the midterm and needed at least a C to pass the course.

Keep in mind that America need 140,000 new jobs every month just to keep up with new workers entering the labor force. The math doesn't add up too well for GWBush.

Unemployment Mr. Bush will boast about the decline in the unemployment rate from its June 2003 peak. But the employed fraction of the population didn't rise at all; unemployment declined only because some of those without jobs stopped actively looking for work, and therefore dropped out of the unemployment statistics.

Corporate profits are rising. Tax breaks passed today for companies having offshore operations. Less jobs for American workers. Who do the Republicans think are going to buy the goods and services being produced today? Retail sales are down in all sectors. Yet the economy is "recovering." Short term gains yield long term delusions.

The deficit Mr. Bush will claim that the recession and 9/11 caused record budget deficits. Congressional Budget Office estimates show that tax cuts caused about two-thirds of the 2004 deficit.
The tax cuts Mr. Bush will claim that Senator John Kerry opposed "middle class" tax cuts. But budget office numbers show that most of Mr. Bush's tax cuts went to the best-off 10 percent of families, and more than a third went to the top 1 percent, whose average income is more than $1 million.
The Kerry tax plan Mr. Bush will claim, once again, that Mr. Kerry plans to raise taxes on many small businesses. In fact, only a tiny percentage would be affected. Moreover, as Mr. Kerry correctly pointed out last week, the administration's definition of a small-business owner is so broad that in 2001 it included Mr. Bush, who does indeed have a stake in a timber company - a business he's so little involved with that he apparently forgot about it.

Please keep in mind that the tax cuts most of us receive are more than offset by rising fuel prices, local & state taxes, many other costs. Donald Trump has an actual tax break. You and I, not so much.

Fiscal responsibility Mr. Bush will claim that Mr. Kerry proposes $2 trillion in new spending. That's a partisan number and is much higher than independent estimates. Meanwhile, as The Washington Post pointed out after the Republican convention, the administration's own numbers show that the cost of the agenda Mr. Bush laid out "is likely to be well in excess of $3 trillion" and "far eclipses that of the Kerry plan."
Spending On Friday, Mr. Bush claimed that he had increased nondefense discretionary spending by only 1 percent per year. The actual number is 8 percent, even after adjusting for inflation. Mr. Bush seems to have confused his budget promises - which he keeps on breaking - with reality.

GWBush already promised us the world, but has delivered only words.

Health care Mr. Bush will claim that Mr. Kerry wants to take medical decisions away from individuals. The Kerry plan would expand Medicaid (which works like Medicare), ensuring that children, in particular, have health insurance. It would protect everyone against catastrophic medical expenses, a particular help to the chronically ill. It would do nothing to restrict patients' choices.

Kerry can be accused of distortions so insignicant that they don't qualify as lies. He says the War On Iraq has cost $200 billion. Yes, only $120 billion has been spent so far (only! sheesh!) while the other $80b is earmarked. As one of the Pandagon boys pointed out the other day, that's a bit like putting $1000 down on a $20,000 car, and claiming that the car only costs $1000. Now that's the kind of shoddy accounting that Krugman is able to clear up for us.