#FF America’s Best, Most Substantive, and Most Accurate Center-Left Polemicist Is… Jonathan Chait: Monday Focus for September 1, 2014

A Baker’s Dozen of recent keepers:

  1. Keystone Fight a Huge Environmentalist Mistake
  2. Why I’m So Mean
  3. Wasting Away in Hooverville
  4. Greg Mankiw Loves One Percent, Doesn’t Know Why
  5. Fear of a Female Fed Chief
  6. Why Is Obama Caving on Taxes?
  7. The Lonely Death of the Republican Health Plan
  8. What Caused The Deficit?
  9. The Morality Of Political Hostage-Taking
  10. Paul Ryan Is Making Things Up Again

And three that require excerpting:

(11) Jonathan Chait: Why Washington Accepts Mass Unemployment: “The recovery looks safe for those of us…

…who are not already screwed. That, sadly, has come to be the primary focus of our economic policy. In the years since the collapse of 2008, the existence of mass unemployment has stopped being something the economic powers that be even pretend to regard as a crisis… viewed… from a perspective of detached complacency….

There are signs we’ve hit bottom. Nothing to worry about here. Why risk the possibility of a small outlay merely to provide relief to hundreds of thousands of desperate people? This is such a perfect statement of the way the American elite has approached the economic crisis. They concede that it is a problem. But there are other problems, you know.

It’s important to respond to arguments on intellectual terms…. Yet it is impossible to understand these positions without putting them in socioeconomic context…. For affluent people, there is essentially no recession…. Unemployment is also unusually low in the Washington, D.C., area….

For millions and millions of Americans, the economic crisis is the worst event of their lives. They have lost jobs, homes, health insurance, opportunities for their children, seen their skills deteriorate, and lost their sense of self-worth. But from the perspective of those in a position to alleviate their suffering, the crisis is merely a sad and distant tragedy.

(12) Jonathan Chait (2013): World’s Wrongest Man Ventures Latest Prediction: “Michael J. Boskin–former George W. Bush economic adviser, Hoover Institute fellow…

…and staunch advocate of conservative anti-tax doctrine appears… to warn that the Democratic president’s economic policies will lead us to misery…. Four years ago, Boskin penned a Journal op-ed whose thesis was captured in the headline, “Obama’s Radicalism Is Killing The Dow”…. His career is a mighty testament to the power of enduring, invincible wrongness. In 1993… Boskin… accused Clinton’s administration of ‘fundamental distrust of free enterprise’… made… predictions:

The new spending programs will grow more than projected, revenue growth will be disappointing, the economy will slow, and the program will reduce the deficit much less than expected.

Boskin repeated his prophecies of doom in a summerlong media blitz… labeled Clinton’s plan ‘clearly contractionary’, insisted the projected revenue would only raise 30 percent as much as forecast by dampening the incentive of the rich, insisted it would ‘take an economy that might have grown at 3 or 4 percent and cause it to grow more slowly’, and insisted anybody who believed in it would ‘Flunk Economics 101’….

Boskin… spotted a brilliant new economic mind in Texas governor George W. Bush:

These people were immensely impressed with him, how quick he was to pick stuff up. His instincts were all very good, very much market-oriented; that created a very, very favorable impression.

Boskin… insist[ed] that George W. Bush’s tax cuts would reduce revenue by far less than the official forecasts predicted…. In addition to being in thrall to a rigid and disproven ideology, Boskin suffers from unbelievably bad timing. Any investors who have actually put real money on the line after listening to him deserve the punishment they’ve received.

(13) Jonathan Chait (2012): Sally Quinn Forced to Dine With Non-Fake Friends: “Pretty much the entire journalistic world…

…has made fun of Sally Quinn’s weekend Washington Post essay declaring the End of Power, further abuse may seem unnecessarily cruel. And yet even the fulsome stream of disparagement… has not adequately conveyed the full…. Her essay broadly belongs to a particular genre that I think of as a cargo cult of bipartisanship focused on dinner parties… she adds her own uniquely mortifying touches. Her mourning of the decline of the Georgetown dinner party sweeps together such disparate trends as the appearance of a Kardashian at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Citizens United, hard times at newspapers, and the appearance on the scene of ’25-year-old bloggers’. The result of all these baffling developments is that Quinn now has to have dinner with actual friends….

When assessing Quinn’s sense of the Lost Eden of Washington, we should also have a firmer sense of what the culture was actually like. Here is one scene from Quinn’s inculcation into the Washington elite:

Washington writer Sally Quinn told of a 1950s reception where: ‘My mother and I headed for the buffet table. As we were reaching for the shrimp, both of us jumped and let out a shriek. Senator Strom Thurmond, grinning from ear to ear, had one hand on my behind and the other on my mother’s. As I recall, we were both quite flattered, and thought it terribly funny and wicked of Ol’ Strom’.

Once Washington was a happy place where a girl and her mother could be groped simultaneously in good fun by a white supremacist. Sadly, it has all been ruined by Kim Kardashian and Ezra Klein.

September 1, 2014

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