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Jonathan Chait Rewrites History, Assumes His Readers Are Idiots

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 4, 2011

Jonathan Chait crafted a carnival of utter wrongness for the New York Times today.

Here’s one steaming attempt to rewrite recent history:

At the time, Obama’s $800 billion stimulus was seen by Congress, pundits and business leaders — that is to say, just about everybody who mattered — as mind-bogglingly large. News reports invariably described it as “huge,” “massive” or other terms suggesting it was unrealistically large, even kind of pornographic. The favored cliché used to describe the reaction in Congress was “sticker shock.”

Here’s a small sampling of the corrective, courtesy of Blue Texan:

Aside from the fact that it wasn’t $800B, it was $787B — that’s just wrong. Unless you think Paul Krugman didn’t matter.

To close a gap of more than $2 trillion — possibly a lot more, if the budget office projections turn out to be too optimistic — Mr. Obama offers a $775 billion plan. And that’s not enough.

Or Dean Baker.

“You’re talking about a gap on the order of twelve-hundred-fifty billion dollars, and we’re trying to plug that with four-hundred-something, so we’ve got a long way to go,” Baker says.

Or Brad DeLong.

Nevertheless, I agree [with Krugman] that there [sic] best is almost surely not enough. […] So at the moment my preliminary judgment of the Obama fiscal boost is that it is a good first bid, but that the administration ought to be doing a lot more.

BT cites a few more economists, but you get the general picture. The only people who were saying that the stimulus was “mind-bogglingly large” were Republicans, their media enablers, or Obama’s defenders in the Veal Pen. Not many economists worthy of the name were saying this.

Not content with spewing nonsense about the stimulus, Chait proceeds to spew nonsense about Obama’s ability to pass legislation such as a meaningful stimulus or a health care bill with a public option:

“Yes, Bush passed his tax cuts — by using a method called reconciliation, which can avoid a filibuster but can be used only on budget issues.”

I took on that piece of bogusness here:

Um, Jonathan? Reconciliation can be used on many bills in which money is involved, not just budget bills. Do you know one reason why we know this? Because it was used to pass the health care bill, you moron. Really, do you think we all just fell off the turnip truck here? Or are you equipped with less than the memory God gave a tree squirrel?

Arrrgh.

4 Responses to “Jonathan Chait Rewrites History, Assumes His Readers Are Idiots”

  1. Charles II said

    Granted, Chait gets paid to be right, but I’m not sure I would call him a moron for that. The Senate states that:

    reconciliation process – A process established in the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 by which Congress changes existing laws to conform tax and spending levels to the levels set in a budget resolution. Changes recommended by committees pursuant to a reconciliation instruction are incorporated into a reconciliation measure.

    More here and here

    In effect, it sounds as if the triggering event is that tax and spending levels of an existing law do not conform to the budget resolution, that is, the amount that the Congress tells committees they may propose to be authorized. The actual budget bill is, as I understand it, the authorization to spend money. The only way that it could get used on healthcare was by the House passing the Senate bill and for Obama to sign the bill, which is what happened. Then reconciliation could be used to amend it without a majority.

    Budget “issues” is pretty vague. I think I would have given him a pass.

    • In the context of the article, Chait’s trying to imply that there was no way Obama could have pulled a Bush and used reconciliation to get things like a $2T stimulus passed because it’s only supposed to be used on budget bills. However, as was shown yet again by the health care bill passage, it can be used on most anything with a fiscal component.

      As for the stimulus itself, Chait’s trying to imply that nobody worth mentioning was saying that the stimulus was too small, when pretty much every economist worthy of the name was saying just that. It was only the non-economists going around reinforcing Republican talking points about how “mindbogglingly huge” it was (not compared to the yearly DoD budget).

      • Charles II said

        The Congress sets its rules. It can do anything it wants to. So, there’s no escaping the responsibility the Democrats have for squandering the year in which they had a 60 seat majority. However, I think the parliamentarian would have objected to doing stimulus under reconciliation, since that’s a budget authorization rather than a budget resolution. It’s kind of an obscure point, and I may be wrong, but it’s in the gray zone of where reasonable people may disagree and only the parliamentarian knows for sure.

        Chait is probably correct that “Congress, pundits and business leaders” saw the stimulus as gigantic. They’re the idiots who got us into this mess. One would expect them not to understand how to get us out. And Chait, speaking as pundit, is one of them.

        Usually he’s less toxic and occasionally helpful. I don’t begrudge you the desire to dropkick him on the stimulus comment. Kick away.

  2. jacksmith said

    REALITY!!

    ( http://my.firedoglake.com/iflizwerequeen/2011/05/16/how-about-a-little-truth-about-what-the-majority-want-for-health-care/ )

    ( Gov. Peter Shumlin: Real Healthcare reform — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yFUbkVCsZ4 )

    ( Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator — http://www.cepr.net/calculators/hc/hc-calculator.html )

    ( Briefing: Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare http://t.co/fmVz8nM )

    START NOW!

    As you all know. Had congress passed a single-payer or government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one, our economy and jobs would have taken off like a rocket. And still will. Single-payer would be best. But a government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! that can lead to a single-payer system is the least you can accept. It’s not about competing with for-profit healthcare and for-profit health insurance. It’s about replacing it with Universal Healthcare Assurance. Everyone knows this now.

    The message from the midterm elections was clear. The American people want real healthcare reform. They want that individual mandate requiring them to buy private health insurance abolished. And they want a government-run robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. And they want it now.

    They want Drug re-importation, and abolishment, or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. They want back control of their healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. And they want it NOW!

    THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL NOT, AND MUST NOT, ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO STAND WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.

    For-profit health insurance is extremely unethical, and morally repugnant. It’s as morally repugnant as slavery was. And few if any decent Americans are going to allow them-self to be compelled to support such an unethical and immoral crime against humanity.

    This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

    Further, we want that corrupt, undemocratic filibuster abolished. Whats the point of an election if one corrupt member of congress can block the will of the people, and any legislation the majority wants. And do it in secret. Give me a break people.

    Also, unemployment healthcare benefits are critically needed. But they should be provided through the Medicare program at cost, less the 65% government premium subsidy provided now to private for profit health insurance.

    Congress should stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on private for profit health insurance subsidies. Subsidies that cost the taxpayer 10x as much or more than Medicare does. Private for profit health insurance plans cost more. But provide dangerous and poorer quality patient care.

    Republicans: GET RID OF THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE.

    Democrats: ADD A ROBUST GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION TO HEALTHCARE REFORM.

    This is what the American people are shouting at you. Both parties have just enough power now to do what the American people want. GET! IT! DONE! NOW!

    If congress does not abolish the individual mandate. And establish a government-run public option CHOICE! before the end of 2011. EVERY! member of congress up for reelection in 2012 will face strong progressive pro public option, and anti-individual mandate replacement candidates.

    Strong progressive pro “PUBLIC OPTION” CHOICE! and anti-individual mandate volunteer candidates should begin now. And start the process of replacing any and all members of congress that obstruct, or fail to add a government-run robust PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! before the end of 2011.

    We need two or three very strong progressive volunteer candidates for every member of congress that will be up for reelection in 2012. You should be fully prepared to politically EVISCERATE EVERY INCUMBENT that fails or obstructs “THE PUBLIC OPTION”. And you should be willing to step aside and support the strongest pro “PUBLIC OPTION” candidate if the need arises.

    ASSUME CONGRESS WILL FAIL and SELLOUT again. So start preparing now to CUT THEIR POLITICAL THROATS. You can always step aside if they succeed. But only if they succeed. We didn’t have much time to prepare before these past midterm elections. So the American people had to use a political shotgun approach. But by 2012 you will have a scalpel.

    Congress could have passed a robust government-run public option during it’s lame duck session. They knew what the American people wanted. They already had several bills on record. And the house had already passed a public option. Departing members could have left with a truly great accomplishment. And the rest of you could have solidified your job before the 2012 elections.

    President Obama, you promised the American people a strong public option available to everyone. And the American people overwhelmingly supported you for it. Maybe it just wasn’t possible before. But it is now.

    Knock heads. Threaten people. Or do whatever you have to. We will support you. But get us that robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one before the end of 2011. Or We The People Of The United States will make the past midterm election look like a cake walk in 2012. And it will include you.

    We still have a healthcare crisis in America. With hundreds of thousands dieing needlessly every year in America. And a for profit medical industrial complex that threatens the security and health of the entire world. They have already attacked the world with H1N1 killing thousands, and injuring millions. And more attacks are planned for profit, and to feed their greed.

    Spread the word people.

    Progressives, prepare the American peoples scalpels. It’s time to remove some politically diseased tissues.

    God Bless You my fellow human beings. I’m proud to be one of you. You did good.

    See you on the battle field.

    Sincerely

    jacksmith – WorkingClass :-)

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