Keeping democracy safe as the factual gatekeepers!
The NYT columnist, just back from vacation, with first column for print in tomorrow’s paper, picks up theme I’ve harped on for past week: the “accolades” for Paul Ryan from pundits based on…what exactly? “Ryanomics is and always has been a con game, although to be fair, it has become even more of a con since Mr. Ryan joined the ticket…
“What Mr. Ryan actually offers, then, are specific proposals that would sharply increase the deficit, plus an assertion that he has secret tax and spending plans that he refuses to share with us, but which will turn his overall plan into deficit reduction. If this sounds like a joke, that’s because it is. Yet Mr. Ryan’s ‘plan’ has been treated with great respect in Washington. He even received an award for fiscal responsibility from three of the leading deficit-scold pressure groups. What’s going on?
“The answer, basically, is a triumph of style over substance….Also, self-proclaimed centrists are always looking for conservatives they can praise to showcase their centrism, and Mr. Ryan has skillfully played into that weakness, talking a good game even if his numbers don’t add up.”
Krugman is pretty ticked off at conservative historian-for-hire Niall Ferguson for a “plain misrepresentation of the facts, with an august publication letting itself be used to misinform readers.” He wonders if Newsweek will call for an apology. (Yeah, I’m sure it’s coming right up.)
In the past, Krugman has called the Harvard professor a “poseur” who, when it comes to economics, “hasn’t bothered to understand the basics, relying on snide comments and surface cleverness to convey the impression of wisdom. It’s all style, no comprehension of substance.”
I have to agree. Ferguson’s area of expertise is history, but frequently opines on economics, and has a long-standing feud with Krugman. As anyone who follows his frequent pronouncements knows, Ferguson is frequently wrong – and I haven’t seen an apology yet. (Fun trivia fact: The Times reports that Ferguson encouraged Paul Ryan to run for president!)
There are multiple errors and misrepresentations in Niall Ferguson’s cover story in Newsweek — I guess they don’t do fact-checking — but this is the one that jumped out at me. Ferguson says:
The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.
Readers are no doubt meant to interpret this as saying that CBO found that the Act will increase the deficit. But anyone who actually read, or even skimmed, the CBO report (pdf) knows that it found that the ACA would reduce, not increase, the deficit — because the insurance subsidies were fully paid for.
Now, people on the right like to argue that the CBO was wrong. But that’s not the argument Ferguson is making — he is deliberately misleading readers, conveying the impression that the CBO had actually rejected Obama’s claim that health reform is deficit-neutral, when in fact the opposite is true.
More than that: by its very nature, health reform that expands coverage requires that lower-income families receive subsidies to make coverage affordable. So of course reform comes with a positive number for subsidies — finding that this number is indeed positive says nothing at all about the impact on the deficit unless you ask whether and how the subsidies are paid for. Ferguson has to know this (unless he’s completely ignorant about the whole subject, which I guess has to be considered as a possibility). But he goes for the cheap shot anyway.
You have to love it when the Republicans turn on each other. But is Roger Stone telling the truth? Joe Conason thinks there’s a possibility and God knows, stranger things have happened. Conason points out Stone is supporting Libertarian Gary Johnson for president, so he might be trying to undercut Ryan for that reason.
But I sure would love to know if it’s true:
Veteran Republican political consultant, unrepentant dirty trickster, and recently reborn libertarian Roger Stone yesterday published a startling accusation against Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney on his personal website, The Stone Zone. According to Stone, the billionaire Koch brothers purchased the Republican vice presidential nomination for Ryan from Romney in late July by promising to fork over an additional $100 million toward “independent expenditure” campaigning for the GOP ticket.
Any such transaction would represent a serious violation of federal election laws and perhaps other statutes, aside from the ethical and character implications for all concerned. Although Stone is not the most reputable figure, to put it mildly, he has been a Republican insider, with access to the party’s top figures, over four decades. His credentials date back to Nixon’s Committee to Reelect The President and continue through the Reagan White House, the hard-fought Bush campaigns, and the Florida fiasco in 2000, when he masterminded the “Brooks Brothers riot” that shut down the Bush-Gore recount in Miami-Dade. Peruse his site and you’ll see his greatest hits and the attention he has drawn from major publications.
I’ve known Roger personally for years and always considered him intelligent and amusing; also extremely dangerous and even erratic. Sometimes I’ve been surprised by how much he knows about the inner-most workings of his party – even when he is clearly persona non grata among the current power elite.
Here is how Stone led his latest post, headlined “The Paul Ryan Selection, “which also delivers an amusing swipe at a certain Fox News analyst:
I’ve waited a few days to lay out my analysis of the selection of Paul Ryan for the VP slot on the Romney ticket. Unlike politicos like Dick Morris who badmouths the selection privately and shills for it publicly, I’ll tell you what I really think. My sources tell me David Koch played a key role in Ryan’s selection and that Koch’s wife Julia had been quietly lobbying for Ryan. The selection was cemented at the July 22nd fundraiser Koch held for Romney at the former’s sumptuous Hamptons estate. Koch pledged $100 million more to C-4 and Super PAC efforts for Romney [in exchange] for Ryan’s selection.
I guess when you’re married to a billionaire, diamonds lose their thrill after awhile. And buying a VP nomination is so very close to the ultimate thrill: Owning a human being!
When he mentions “C-4,” of course, Stone is referring to the tax-exempt non-profit groups recognized by the IRS under section 501-C-4 of federal tax law – such as Americans For Prosperity, a group largely backed by the Koch brothers that has so far spent nearly $20 million on this year’s campaign. The C-4 groups, including another known as Crossroads GPS run by Karl Rove, need not disclose their rich donors, while Super PACs do. This year, the right-wing C-4s are outspending all the SuperPACS combined, as Pro Publica reported recently.
Well, well, well. It certainly would be interesting if it’s true.