Saturday, January 10, 2009

David Brooks: Mendacity on Fiscal Policy

Brad DeLong is not happy with the latest from David Brooks. Brad writes:

David Brooks quotes Christina Romer out of context--taking her 1994 argument that monetary policy is more flexible and effective at ending small recessions and misinterpreting it to apply to big recessions like today, which are too big to end via monetary policy alone.

I also found this comment weird:

All the administrations, Democratic and Republican, resisted large-scale fiscal stimulus plans. They didn’t believe they could time a stimulus correctly. They didn’t trust Congress to pass the bills quickly or cleanly. They decided they shouldn’t be making policy in what Kennedy administration economists called “an atmosphere of haste and panic brought on by recession.”

But we did have tax cuts in 1964, 1975, 1981, and 2001. Those weren’t fiscal stimulus plans?

Update: The source for the “haste and panic” quote appears to be the 1963 Economic Report of the President on page XIII. And guess what? Brooks has misrepresented the context of this as well.


Shag from Brookline said...

Brooks is laying the foundation for his upcoming criticisms of Obama's presidency. He does make a valid point that economists do not seem to have the answers. In this regard, I read with interest Robert Higgs' 1/9/09 "The Latest Reported Bankruptcy: Mainstream Economics" at The Independent Institute. Foresight is always difficult, not only for economists. But hindsight of economists, as a whole, is not 20-20.

TheTrucker said...

Being a pretty darned good history freak when it comes to Madison and the Federalist stuff in general I find the most astonishing line in the Brooks article to be:

"In a direct rebuttal to Federalist No. 10, he called on lawmakers to put aside their parochial concerns and pass the measure in weeks."

Fed 10 was partly about how the number of participants in the legislation served to limit the pork and partly about how the large size of the electoral districts (a whopping 30 thousand at that time and now 700 thousand) served to limit parochialism. That is probably quite correct on this deal more than it would ordinarily be. And this is so due to the "special billing" and the "critical" nature of the legislation.

I would expect Republicans to do all they can to wreck the effort, but they really don't count. The Democrats are their own worst enemy this time.

If the Republicans try to stop the speedy implementation of the bill by some shenanigans in the Senate they will probably get nuked. Their best shot is to go along and then spend the next 18 months criticizing.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone be surprised at David Brook's obfuscating an issue? The man is consistent, if nothing else. Consistently deceptive, that is. Of course, the more basic question is, why would anyone read David Brooks? Which leads to, why would the NY Times see fit to publish David Brooks? Answer: Someone has to seem less deceitful and partisan than Willliam Kristol.