Where’s the Beef?Posted: December 13, 2012
Yup, Clara’s question is still germane.
I have a more earthy version of this having do to with lies and morons when I continue to watch the media cover the “fiscal cliff”. The coverage is singularly lacking substance and Media Matters shows us why in a study that shows that “Economists – And Economics – Absent From Media Coverage Of Debt Debate”. Journalists continue to bring politicians in to discuss the politics of the fiscal cliff in a complete vacuum of facts, data, economic theory, and reality or economic perspective. Why are economists absent from the discussion?
A Media Matters study found that economists have been strangely absent from discussions on budget negotiations, following a typical pattern of the media’s inability to host experts to discuss complex issues. This lack of expert analysis has steered the debate toward politics and away from core economic concerns.
In a recently published study of news segments discussing current budget negotiations, Media Matters found that the presence of economists was sorely lacking – out of 503 total guests in the 337 segments analyzed, only 22 were economists. The lack of appearances by economists is spread across all networks …
I’ve watched a lot of the coverage and there are a lot of things coming out of the mouths of people making these decisions that would never come out of the mouth of an economist whatever their voter affiliation. But let me start with one thing that strikes me as really, really, really obscene. The Republican mantra of “Increased Taxes Kill Jobs” is old school Keynes. I mean REAL old school Keynesian economics because the old Keynes model shows us that increasing taxes or decreasing government spending is contractionary fiscal policy. So, why hasn’t any moderator of bloviating pols mentioned this or asked about this as Republicans rant on about the evilness of Keynesian economics?
NeoKeynesians have discovered a lot about the subtleties of the impact of changes in tax rates or government spending since that first bit of insight came from the Keynesian models back in the day. Those subtleties are present in the studies you read that show that changing tax rates for the rich has a different impact that changing tax rates for others. It also has been determined that some government spending is more effective in a variety of ways than others. However, the point remains. That Republican talking point is actually quite old school Keynesian so why doesn’t one Media person ask them why they hate Keynes and say that continually? Is it because they’ve bought into the idea that tax cuts only should be discussed in terms of the republicans adherence to the dismissed Laffer Curve and hypothesis? Where are the economists that can actually ask these questions? There’s plenty of us out there writing, tweeting, blogging, and facebooking? Why not ask one of us?
Previous studies by Media Matters have noted that the lack of economists’ input helps spread conservative misinformation, leaving a substantial impact on public opinion. The most recent study, however, shows that keeping economists out of the debate also eliminates any discussion of economic issues.
One such issue is the so-called “fiscal cliff,” a combination of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, could plunge the U.S. economy into recession in 2013.
However, of the 337 segments analyzed, 209 — 62 percent — failed to address the macroeconomic implications of either tax increases or spending cuts. While some microeconomic issues were discussed (such as the potential impact on healthcare costs), most of the segments were focused on largely non-economic issues, such as political leverage in negotiations, the Grover Norquist pledge, or concessions made by the two parties.
Meanwhile, economists have not been silent on the economic consequences of current budget negotiations. A recent International Monetary Fund study found that for every dollar decrease in government spending, the U.S. would experience as much as a $1.80 decrease in output. Conversely, the Congressional Budget Office noted that if Bush-era tax rates expired for high-income earners, negative effects on economic output would be negligible.
Given the fact that cutting spending and raising taxes are both large components of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” highlighting these findings when discussing budget negotiations would help inform viewers of the real economic stakes. Instead, the media have taken the economics out of a largely economic issue.
Not even Greg Mankiw would risk his reputation in the academic community spreading the lies that get put out there about the economy by Republican Politicians. Chief among the lies are the kinda crap we saw coming from the Republicans. There are all these completely untrue economic lies running around out there. It’s all surrounding ideological things the Republicans are still trying to accomplish. Social Security has nothing to do with the Federal deficit. It’s not going bankrupt. Raising the age of social security and medicare does not solve any economic problems and does not save money. It just costs shifts things to different programs and sectors of government. Higher marginal tax rates on the rich does not kill jobs. Lower marginal tax rates on the rich does not create jobs. Special tax treatment for speculative investment behavior destabilizes financial markets. Regulation of Financial Markets improves their outcomes. There is not a structural deficit problem. There is a cyclical problem that would be solved if real stimulus of the economy occurred. I could go on and on and on and have written extensively on this citing study after study and economic expert after economic expert.
Nobel prize winning Paul Krugman’s facts get attacked as polemics by a political operative on Sunday TV. This is the reality of our public discussion on the most important issues of our time. Krugman is frequently out there on his own. He’s always trying to argue from a fact based, scientific method based, reality gets to argue with pols. Why can’t the media bring on more economists and let us see a real discussion of facts and theories? We have so much obvious data sitting right in front of us. The UK’s recession is a great example. The UK with its conservatives and austerity package has the worst economy in the west right now. It’s due to those policies the Republicans want to enact here being enacted by Tories there. Both Europe and the US are in much better situations–albeit still stale because of the lack of true fiscal stimulus–because they’ve not completely done the austerity thing. He points out that Ben Bernanke and the overly conservative Fed appears to be the only grown up institution in the beltway these days.
Along with its new policy pronouncement, the Fed released its economic projections (pdf). What struck me is that the Fed expects the unemployment rate to be well above its long-run level even in the fourth quarter of 2015, which is as far as its projections go.
This means that the Fed is projecting elevated unemployment nine full years after the Great Recession started. And, of course, the Fed has been consistently over-optimistic.
This is an awesome failure of policy — not solely at the Fed, of course.When I wax caustic about Very Serious People, bear this in mind. Faced with an economic crisis where textbook macroeconomics told us exactly how to respond, people of influence chose instead to obsess over budget deficits and generally punt on employment; and the result has been a huge economic and human disaster.
So much of this is disheartening to me. However, the most disheartening thing is waking up every day for the last 4 years or so realizing that an entire political organization–one of the two in our duopoly–doesn’t care about anything but getting its way. Every day it becomes more obvious that Republicans are not about our country, our country’s economy, or our people. That kind of psychopathy should be punished severely. Over and over they’ve shown they will absolutely tank our economy for their donor base.
But, again, how will the majority of people know this if they’re only allowed political discussion that continually presents lies, ideology, and out and out crap as an ‘alternative’ viewpoint?