February 24, 2003

Why Are We Governed by These Clowns?

Why Are We Governed by These Clowns? Why is not lying never considered--even as a hypothetical option?

Here is some evidence that whoever is preparing Bush's economic talking points and speeches either has no contact with any of the professional forecasters at the Council of Economic Advisers, the Office of Management and Budget, or the National Economic Council, or simply does not care that the President not tell pointless lies:


Feb. 24, 2003 | Faked forecast: Yesterday the Long Island (and Queens) daily [Newsday]'s economics correspondent James Toedtman broke the kind of important story that requires only a single telephone call to expose lying in the White House.

Last Thursday, the president claimed that the "nation's top economists forecast substantial economic growth" if Congress would only pass his latest tax cut. After scores of Nobel economists warned that said tax cut is economically useless as well as unfair, Bush's desire to make such a claim is understandable. Unfortunately it is also entirely false.

The "top economists" to whom Bush... referred were the 53 highly-respected respondents to a monthly newsletter known as Blue Chip Economic Forecast. They had allegedly agreed that the U.S. economy would grow 3.3 percent in 2003 if the tax cut passes.

Yet when Newsday's Toedtman phoned Randell E. Moore, the editor of the Blue Chip newsletter, his answer to Bush was painfully blunt. "I don't know what [Bush] was citing," he said. "I was a little upset. It sounded like the Blue Chip Economic Forecast had endorsed the president's plan. That's simply not the case." The economists had predicted a potential 3.3 percent growth rate. They had also predicted that "some version" of a Bush stimulus plan would pass. But they had made no connection between the two -- and in fact, most of the nation's "top economists" don't believe there is one. It's hard to say which would be worse: whether Bush doesn't understand the flaw in his phony syllogism, or if he just assumed that nobody else would.

Posted by DeLong at February 24, 2003 06:04 PM | TrackBack
Comments

As an historian of economic thought, are you aware of any Texan whose policies were good for the Nation? I can think of lots, both in and out of government that have been disasters or at best ineffectual, but I can't think of any that have been good for the rest of us. Couple this with the fact that the administration's job experience is primarily in an extractive industry and one should not be surprised that they are clueless about how to create productive long term growth.

Posted by: Brad Stritashall on February 24, 2003 06:35 PM

I like to think the best of people, and the blame for this one goes squarely on Bush's advisors, not on Bush. Yes, I know I should expect that my president be smart and inquisitive and intellectually curious and all that but realistically one can only be as good as the advice you are getting. And unfortunately the lack of intellectual curiosity bit Bush on the ass big time here because he trusted someone to tell him what to say and that person decided to continue the lying and the misleading. The amazing part is that neither Fleischer nor Buchan backed down on the claim when given a chance, no siree, this is not an administration that will ever
a) change something
b) admit they are wrong
even when blatantly exposed as liars. And this goes back to what Brad said, once you have shown yourself to be played by the spin doctors, they will play you like a baby grand Steinway.

And is it just me or is John Snow making you nostalgic for the days of Paul O'Neill? I would like the Tresury secretary of the most powerful economy in the world to occasionally have an original thought and do something other than what he's been asked to do by the marionette controllers of the White House: which is basically act like a cheap used car salesman.

Posted by: achilles on February 24, 2003 09:32 PM

Sadly, the Turks have picked up on the Bush gang's problems with the truth more quickly than the American public. See the Krugman article below:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/25/opinion/25KRUG.html

Have the Turks become more informed than the American public? Can we blame the French for that too?

Posted by: Dan on February 24, 2003 11:02 PM

"I like to think the best of people, and the blame for this one goes squarely on Bush's advisors, not on Bush. "

After two years in office, it should be clear to Bush's senior subordinates what his policies and preferences are. All that takes is for one subordinate to suddenly 'take some time off, to spend more time with my family, and to pursue other career options'. The others would get the message.

In the end, the buck stops with Bush.

Posted by: Barry on February 25, 2003 05:51 AM

For folk like me, whose capacities are limited, sometimes the best we can do is take a statement in each hand, rub them together and let that pass for original thought. For instance ... Barry thinks a Bush soldier could "take some time off" to help establish a higher standard of honesty in the Bush administration. Achilles misses O'Neill. Well, O'Niell serves as an example both that you don't get rewarded for having scruples in this administration, and that, should your scruples get in the way of the spin, you don't get to "spend more time with my family." A "senior White House official" walks into a clutch of reporters and says "he was fired" -- just to be sure some naive soldier doesn't missed the message. No scruples. Got it?

Posted by: K Harris on February 25, 2003 08:41 AM

Or is it that the Bushies have mainstream media so well under their thumb that this kind of lies which takes 4 paragraphs to be explained is not a material risk to what the median voter thinks of them?

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on February 25, 2003 09:40 AM

There's plenty of reason to criticize Bush, but making a connection to his home state seems a bit much, no? Posing the question, as Mr. Stritashall does above, "...are you aware of any Texan whose policies were good for the Nation?" isn't relevant, is it? Otherwise, we could ask the same of Virginians, or Californians. Or, while we're at it, how about figuring out which state produced the best GDP growth? But is this line of thinking worthy of serious economic focus?Economic analysis is tough enough without having to deconstruct it further through the prism of state influence. Let's hope we don't reduce it to counties and towns too.

As always, I hold open the possibility that I may be wrong, and so if anyone knows of why we should parse economic theory by an adherent's home state, I'm all ears.

Posted by: James Picerno on February 25, 2003 10:09 AM

"Or is it that the Bushies have mainstream media so well under their thumb that this kind of lie which takes 4 paragraphs to be explained is not a material risk to what the median voter thinks of them?"

Yes, yes, yes!

Posted by: jd on February 25, 2003 10:32 AM

"I like to think the best of people, and the blame for this one goes squarely on Bush's advisors, not on Bush. Yes, I know I should expect that my president be smart and inquisitive and intellectually curious and all that but realistically one can only be as good as the advice you are getting."

If only the emperor knew what is done in his name.....

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 25, 2003 10:50 AM

More Clown-bashing on this site. Sigh...

Posted by: biz the clown on February 25, 2003 10:59 AM

Jason, I am by no stretch of the imagination a Bush apologist. In this PARTICULAR case though I will give him the benefit of the doubt since I would expect that a president does not always read the Blue Chip forecasters report from cover to cover and instead relies on someone to summarize it for him.

I am by no means excusing Bush for going on and on about the average tax cut of $1000 and his other shenanigans. In any case, it is not flattering to Bush 'cause either he was lying or his advisors were lying to him. The latter only heightens the extent to which one should worry about the factions setting economic policy in the White House.

Posted by: achilles on February 25, 2003 05:55 PM

The economic team of this administration lies all the time about policy; it's not an occasional occurence. Either Bush approves of it, doesn't know, or doesn't care, and all are pretty damning.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on February 26, 2003 10:51 AM
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