Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?

Kevin Drum has lost all patience with Michael Kinsley:

p>The Washington Monthly: MORE ANNOYING CONTRARIANISM.... Look, I get the whole contrarianism schtick. And maybe Michael Kinsley is right that the Democratic campaign manifesto, "A New Direction for America," is too infatuated with new tax credits, which he thinks make for lousy fiscal policy. But then there's this:

Honesty is not just therapeutic. Fiscal honesty is a practical necessity. "New Direction" quite rightly denounces the staggering fiscal irresponsibility of Republican leaders and duly promises "Pay As You Go" spending. But in the entire document there is not one explicit revenue-raiser to balance the many specific and enormous new spending programs and tax credits.

Golly. You mean the Democratic document didn't have a whole section about exactly which taxes Nancy Pelosi wants to raise and by exactly how much? I wonder why? Kinsley then follows up this faux bumpkinism with a complaint that the Democrats also fail to present a plan for crushing the Iraq civil war, even though he admits one sentence later that neither does anyone else. If it weren't for the 800-word limit on op-eds, I figure the next paragraph would have been a complaint that Democrats lack a plan for turning water into wine.

What's the point of all this? Kinsley knows perfectly well -- as he acknowledges in passing -- that a central part of the Democratic agenda is PayGo, which requires all new expenditures to be offset with funding increases or cuts in other programs. And he knows perfectly well that "eliminating tax giveaways," a phrase the litters the Democratic plan, is standard-issue campaign-speak for higher taxes. What's more -- as he also knows perfectly well -- any number of Democrats are on record as wanting to let some of George Bush's tax cuts lapse when they come up for reauthorization. This is hardly a secret.

But that's not enough. Apparently the only thing sufficiently bracing for Kinsley's brand of tough love would be a joint suicide note from the Democratic Party. That would solve all our problems, wouldn't it?

POSTSCRIPT: After reading this, you might think that election day has made me unusually tetchy. You would be right.

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