Monday, October 6, 2014

The Zombie Democracy Shuffle

Paul Krugman's latest column takes issue with Paul Ryan's proposal to have the Congressional Budget Office use something called "dynamic scoring" (Alice in Wonderland math)  to justify more tax cuts for the rich. Despite the sound debunking of "voodoo economics," it's an idea that refuses to die a good death. As a result, Krugman fears, the very credibility of the CBO (not to mention that of the august 15% approval rating Congress) might be in jeopardy if Ryan's dream bill squeaks through a GOP senate! What a shock.

The CBO has already taken quite a few hits for being politicized, most notably from Roosevelt Institute economist Jeff Madrick, who points to that august body's prediction earlier this year that a $10.10 minimum wage "might" be a job killer. These government budget analysts have to thrive on projecting economic forecasts based on such variables of war and peace. And although the CBO hedges its bets through the practice of listing a variety of different scenarios for every eventuality, politicians from both parties have a habit of pouncing on only the choice bits, tastiest to their own agendas. So the addition of dynamic scoring would add one more flaw to an already flawed body.

  Krugman, meanwhile, seems to automatically assume that even if the GOP wins the Senate, President Obama will use his veto option against CBO manipulation and other horrible stuff.  Krugman also manages to use his column space to sneak in the current risible Democratic campaign talking points touting the Recovery under Obama, with its unprecedented part-time/temp job growth since the 2008 meltdown. But the column's main accomplishment is to ignore the de facto jobless and point fingers at perhaps the most valuable Useful Idiot that the "lesser-evil" Wall Street Democrats have ever propped up. Krugman writes,
For years people like Mr. Ryan have posed as champions of fiscal discipline even while advocating huge tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations. They have also called for savage cuts in aid to the poor, but these have never been big enough to offset the revenue loss. So how can they make things add up?
Well, for years they have relied on magic asterisks — claims that they will make up for lost revenue by closing loopholes and slashing spending, details to follow. But this dodge has been losing effectiveness as the years go by and the specifics keep not coming. Inevitably, then, they’re feeling the pull of that old black magic — and if they take the Senate, they’ll be able to infuse voodoo into supposedly neutral analysis.
Would they actually do it? It would destroy the credibility of a very important institution, one that has served the country well. But have you seen any evidence that the modern conservative movement cares about such things?
The Times did not see fit to publish this response from me: (I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, though, and chalk it up to a techno-glitch rather than outright censorship):
The credibility of the Senate is already shot, so why would the GOP spoil a good losing streak? If we've learned anything, it's that power has nothing to do with intelligence, that rules don't apply to wealthy crooks, and that fomenting fear and hatred for your neighbor is a sure-fire way for sociopaths to win elections in a gerrymandered system.
 Yes, Obama will be able to veto any vile stuff a GOP senate passes. But will he? Or, like President "end welfare as we know it" Clinton before him, will he bargain away the rights of the working class and poor? Will a GOP majority finally give him fast track authority to ram through the corporate coup known as the Trans Pacific Partnership? Will he try to reanimate his "grand bargain" of Social Security cuts?
Here's one clue: the Obama administration is actually siding with the temp agency being sued by Amazon warehouse workers. They're fighting to get paid for the daily half hour they're held after work, forcibly searched to prevent theft of all those cheap goods manufactured by other oppressed wage slaves in other parts of the globalized economy.
 Voodoo and greed also survive because the media let them. The same oligarchs who bankroll the parties control the 6 major outlets broadcasting 90% of all we see and hear.
 Why else is the DCCC  not supporting Ron Zerban, Paul Ryan's progressive challenger in Wisconsin?  Because it takes a village of Ayn Rand heartthrobs from hell to keep our sham democracy shuffling along.
Where would Krugman and the Democrats be without Paul Ryan to provide the impetus for all their op-eds, their relentless fundraising appeals, their free floating pseudo-outrage? Who could they possibly huddle with behind closed doors to split the difference on food stamp cuts and other austere measures to make themselves appear halfway human? Without Paul Ryan and his fuzzy math to softly kick around, we might even begin to notice that the Dems are nothing but a bunch of corporate shills instead of the party of the working stiff. Oh, wait -- that would only remind people how shamefully they've ignored the crisis of unemployment and underemployment during the mid-term elections. So-o-o-....


annenigma said...

The NYT did not publish my brief comment, submitted early, that Tim Kaine should get a medal for having enough backbone to resist bending over for the Obama regime.

Censorship or techno-glitch?

Karen Garcia said...

I used to correspond with a Times guy named Aron Pilhofer, who has since left to work at The Guardian. According to him, there is no such thing as comment-censorship, only a top-secret algorithm. Comments are sometimes published in the order submitted and sometimes not. Usually the green check brigade are posted immediately, unless they run into a spam filter. The normal method of censoring a green check comment is to simply remove it. That's happened to me a couple of times.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Great comment in response to Kruggie. I swear your comments are often better than the main piece.

Where or where is the great journalism Democracy hungers for? In the blogosphere, clearly.

Four Corners, Australia's version of Frontline, did an amazing piece on Greenwald and Snowden. Sadly, there doesn't seem to be a link I can find . . . but then, Luddite that I am, I am not very good at that kind of stuff. The show is entitled Privacy Lost. Try to see it is you can. Really wonderful stuff.

Jay - Ottawa said...

@Valerie & All
The Australian Broadcasting System’s Four Corners show called “Privacy Now” may be an adaptation or a composite of several programs by “Frontline” (PBS). Their ‘on demand’ link (below) takes you to a short list of programs under the general heading “United States of Secrets.” I’ve seen a couple of the shows, which are very rich, still timely and in the spirit of sharp investigative journalism.

Isaiah Earhart said...

Great comment Karen.

Every time I read one of your comments in the NYT, it is, invariably, the best thing I read in the NYT on that particular day.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Yes, @JayOttawa,
I think you are right.