Meta quote of the day

I liked Kevin Drum’s response to his Eric Cantor based quote of the day.  First, Cantor:

I believe that we have identified trillions in spending cuts, and to date, we have established a blueprint that could institute the fiscal reforms needed to start getting our fiscal house in order. That said….Democrats continue to insist that any deal must include tax increases….Given this impasse, I will not be participating in today’s meeting and I believe it is time for the President to speak clearly and resolve the tax issue.

And Drum:

Roger that. Trillions in spending cuts already agreed to, but there can’t be one dime in tax increases of any kind. Would any conservative apologists like to continue pretending that Democratic aversion to spending cuts is pretty much the same kind of thing as the Republican jihad against tax increases? Anyone?

Anyone?  Nonetheless, I’m sure a quick scan of recent news articles would happily suggest this is the case– that’s what’s so annoying about it.  Journalists desire to see a symmetry where none exists (or at least pretend it’s there in the name of “objectivity”)  is an amazingly powerful (and bad for our democracy) bias.  Of course, it’s not just the province of political journalists, but I honestly expect more from them than I do from my students.

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How Supply-Siders can explain the past 30 years

I really love good political satire, and Jonathan Bernstein succeeds mightily here:

Jonathan Chait is sadly misinformed about economic history and taxation levels over the last thirty years.

He writes that conservatives opposed tax hikes in 1982 and claimed they would derail recovery; that conservatives opposed Bill Clinton’s tax hikes in 1993 and claimed they would tank the economy; and supported George W. Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, claiming that they would spur economic growth — but that each time, the opposite happened.

This is obviously wrong.

Bill Clinton’s tax hikes in 1993 pretty clearly caused the 2001 recession, and despite the heroic efforts of Republicans, the hangover from those tax hikes moderated the otherwise exceptional growth rates of the Bush years. I mean, the Bush years between recession and even bigger recession. Which we’ll get to later.

So why did the economy grow so fast in the 1990s? No question about that — it grew because of the Reagan tax cuts of 1981. Now, granted, those tax cuts couldn’t prevent a recession in 1990-1991, which was caused by Clinton’s tax increases in 1993, but the effects of the Reagan tax cuts kicked back in again around 1994 and resulted in several years of excellent growth.

Now, what about that 1982 tax increase? That’s easy: if we never speak about it, then it didn’t really happen, and it can’t really affect economic growth. Indeed, Chait risks contributing to the current economic tough times by mentioning it now, and potentially risking the economic confidence about taxes that is the only reason employers ever hire anyone.

If you’ve understood everything so far, it should be pretty easy to deduce why the economy fell into another recession in late 2007. George W. Bush was term-limited, and the odds were high that Barack Obama would soon be president and usher in an era of unprecedented tax increases. Faced with that inevitability, no wonder the economy collapsed! The Obama tax increases were devastating, and businesses in 2007 were helpless in their wake, rippling backwards through time.

So Chait (and Bruce Bartlett, who is obviously a liberal for believing this stuff) have it all wrong: it’s liberals like them who can’t learn the simple, straightforward lessons of history.

I do not think it means what he thinks it means

Via Ezra, the latest bipartisan statement from Mitch McConnell:

President Obama needs to decide between his goal of higher taxes, or a bipartisan [emphasis mine] plan to address our deficit. He can’t have both. But we need to hear from him.”

McConnell talks constantly about a bipartisan plan, but it, of course, obvious, that a truly bipartisan plan would include tax increases.  It would seem that McConnell’s definition of bipartisan is something along the line of “whatever I think is right is bipartisan.”

Job killing v. human killing

So, I was listening to a summary of this NPR story about E. Coli testing during their excellent weekly “Your Health” podcast.  Right now, we only test for the strain infamous for the deaths in the Jack-in-the Box cases.  But, as the recent German problems made clear, there’s some other really nasty strains out there.   Apparently, there’s probably another 6 strains that we should be testing for if we really want to protect public health.  The story certainly makes it sounds as if the Obama administration is just dragging their feet on this– and they may very well be.  Nonetheless, in discussing the overall political context, they played a clip of one of the, oh so many, Republican rants about “job killing” regulations.

Now, I don’t know whether more E. Coli testing will end up with some people losing their jobs or not.  My guess… the beef industry claims that it will, but it will actually have no impact on jobs.  What I am quite confident about, though, is that not expanding testing will lead to more human killing contamination.  I know which one I find more of a concern.  Then again, I tend to be more concerned about actual humans than corporations.

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