Should-Read: Paul Krugman: Budgets, Bad Faith and ‘Balance’

Should-Read: When I think of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, I think of its Maya MacGuineas telling me in 2009-10 that they had to repeatedly and enthusiastically praise the best-performing deficit-hawk Republican—then Senator Voinovich—in order to keep lines of communication open, and give Republicans incentive to do better. Perhaps it is time for CRFB to make a public acknowledgement that, ex post at least, this strategy was not so smart? That one was not so reality-based in the past is a strong reason to do a frank and open retrospective, if only to keep one from being not so reality-based in the future: Paul Krugman: Budgets, Bad Faith and ‘Balance’: “my anger is… directed at… enablers, the professional centrists, both-sides pundits, and news organizations that spent years refusing to acknowledge that the modern G.O.P. is what it so clearly is…

…Which is not to say that Republicans should be let off the hook. To be sure, American history is full of politicians and parties that pursued what we would now call nefarious ends…. But I can’t think of a previous example of a party that so consistently acted in bad faith—pretending to care about things it didn’t, pretending to serve goals that were the opposite of its actual intentions. You may recall, for example, the grim warnings from leading Republicans about the dangers of budget deficits, with Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, declaring that our “crushing burden of debt” would create an economic crisis. Then came the opportunity to pass a $1.5 trillion tax cut targeted on the rich, and suddenly all worries about the deficit temporarily disappeared. Now that the tax cut is law, of course, deficit-hawk rhetoric is back….

…You may also recall how Republicans posed as defenders of Medicare, accusing the Obama administration of planning to cut $500 billion from the program to pay for the Affordable Care Act…. Why have Republicans become so overwhelmingly the party of bad faith?… The party’s true agenda, dictated by the interests of a handful of super-wealthy donors, would be very unpopular if the public understood it. So the party must consistently lie about its priorities and intentions…. Yet the gatekeepers of our public discourse spent years being willfully blind to this reality. Take, for example, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a think tank that, to be fair, can be a useful resource for budget analysis. Still, I can’t forget that back in 2010 the committee gave Paul Ryan—whose fraudulence was obvious from the beginning to anyone who actually read his proposals—an award for fiscal responsibility….

Washington is full of professional centrists, whose public personas are built around a carefully cultivated image of standing above the partisan fray, which means that they can’t admit that while there are dishonest politicians everywhere, one party basically lies about everything….But our job, whether we’re policy analysts or journalists, isn’t to be “balanced”; it’s to tell the truth. And while Democrats are hardly angels, at this point in American history, the truth has a well-known liberal bias…


Brad DeLong


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