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Bait and switch

I hate to use a cliche like this, but Paul Krugman has now officially jumped the shark. He started out arguing that Bush's campaign proposals didn't add up. Krugman was a little one-sided, but was basically correct. (Gee, a politician who promises more than he can deliver? Whoda thunk it?) Unfortunately, when Bush got elected anyway, this pushed Krugman over the edge. After all, Paul Krugman, supergenius, had made his pronouncement from the mountaintop. How could people dare ignore him? So he began selectively quoting partisan sources, pretending those sources were unbiased, in an attempt to prove his points.

But now? Now he's just at the point of making things up. Wouldn't you think the starting point for figuring out whether spending is going up would be to look at spending? Not Krugman, though. He claims that domestic spending hasn't gone up, and his entire evidence is this:

Is domestic spending really exploding? Think about it: farm subsidies aside, which domestic programs have received lavish budget increases over the last three years? Education? Don't be silly: No Child Left Behind is rapidly turning into a sick joke.

In fact, many government agencies are severely underfinanced. For example, last month the head of the National Park Service's police admitted to reporters that her force faced serious budget and staff shortages, and was promptly suspended.

Yes, that's it. Hard to believe, but that's his entire analysis. NCLB is a "sick joke," and the Park Police want more money. Notice anything missing? Say, actual numbers?

(Krugman, incidentally, seems to love using the "Bush must be lying about his policy about X because government agency Y or advocacy group Z says that they want more money to deal with X. Is Krugman dishonest, or is he actually so stupid that he doesn't realize that every group always says that they want more money to deal with a given problem? Have you ever heard any government agency say, "No thanks; our budget's big enough"? )

To be fair, Krugman does make a specific argument:

According to cleverly misleading reports from the Heritage Foundation and other like-minded sources, the deficit is growing because Mr. Bush isn't sufficiently conservative: he's allowing runaway growth in domestic spending.
Oh, wait, I lied; Krugman doesn't make a specific argument. In fact, Krugman's entire analysis of the claim is that it's "cleverly misleading."

He then goes off on a rant about tax evasion, which is rather ironic given his later accusation that "the right" is guilty of "bait-and-switch." Regardless of whether taxes are too low or the rich are guilty of tax evasion, what on earth does that have to do with his claim that spending hasn't increased? Nothing. He couldn't prove the latter, so he quickly changed topics to the former, hoping we wouldn't notice. It's, dare I say, a bait-and-switch.

And while I'm ranting about Krugman, what the heck kind of claim is this?

But [the decline in tax collections] also probably reflects an epidemic of tax avoidance and evasion.
"Probably"? Is that Krugmanspeak for "Bullshit"?

(And incidentally, as long as I'm complaining, the phrase "tax avoidance and evasion" is dishonest. Tax evasion is a crime -- people not paying the taxes they're legally required to pay. Tax avoidance, on the other hand, is the perfectly legal approach of structuring one's business/assets to pay the fewest taxes one is legally required to pay. It's like lumping together "outrunning the police" and "driving just under the speed limit" as ways to avoid speeding tickets.)


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 29, 2004 12:11 AM.

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