Free Markets, Free People

Josh Marshall And The Sacred Texts

Marshall’s premise is that we are, without a doubt, headed for the “Greatest Depression Ever” if Republicans don’t just capitulate and spend a trillion bucks on whatever it is the Democrats say we should spend it on.


The discussion of what to do on the Democratic side tracks more or less with textbook macroeconomics, while Republican argument track either with tax cut monomania or rhetorical claptrap intended to confuse. It’s true that macro-economics doesn’t make controlled experiments possible. And economists can’t speak to these issues with certainty. But in most areas of our lives, when faced with dire potential consequences, we put our stock with scientific or professional consensus where it exists, as it does here. Only in cases where it goes against Republican political interests or economic interests of money-backers do we prefer the schemes of yahoos and cranks to people who study the stuff for a living.

The link, if your wondering (or even had to wonder) is to Paul Krugman.

So let’s recap. Only the sacred texts hold the answer. But it’s also true that “macro-economists” can’t conduct “controlled experiments”. And it is also true that economists can’t speak to these issues with certainty.

But, by George, we should listen to them anyway. And certianly not to Republican “cranks” and “yahoos” who only have the interests of “money-backers” at heart and are truly only opposing this for political gain.

No word from Marshall as to why a Senate of 57 Democrats and 2 Independents caucusing with the Dems can’t seem to get this passed, but assuredly the reason is the Republicans and their repudiation of the sacred texts.

And correct me if I’m wrong (speaking of controlled experiments), but the last time we did the Paul Krugman macro thing in the ’30s, the results were less than stellar.

Of course, at some level, why would Republicans be trying to drive the country off a cliff? Well, not pretty to say, but they see it in their political interests. Yes, the DeMints and Coburns just don’t believe in government at all or have genuinely held if crankish economic views. But a successful Stimulus Bill would be devastating politically for the Republican party. And they know it.

Obviously Marshall hasn’t paused long enough in his rant to take a breath and realize that the stimulus package is going to pass in some form. What he’s whining about, and casting aspersions over, is the fact that the Senate Republicans (and the House Republicans as well) refused to bow at the altar of the the newly annointed and take that package of bacon without checking to see if it was spoiled. And besides, if the Republicans only have the interests of “money-backers” at heart, I’d be pleased to hear an argument which logically supports their desire to “driv[e] the country off the cliff” economically.

Yup, doesn’t resonate with me either.

If the GOP successfully bottles this up or kills it with a death of a thousand cuts, Democrats will have a good argument amongst themselves that Republicans were responsible for creating the carnage that followed. But the satisfaction will have to be amongst themselves since as a political matter it will be irrelevant. The public will be entirely within its rights to blame Democrats for any failure of government action that happened while Democrats held the White House and sizable majorities in both houses of Congress.

The public, of course, is showing much more sense than Marshall, with support for this massive mistake dropping to 37% according to Rasmussen.

And, to be clear here, if (and when) the bill does pass (since it is clear that Marshall hasn’t figured that out yet – it isn’t “if” but “when and with what”) then Republicans will be able to hold Democrats responsible for creating the debacle that follows, correct?

So either way – the failure to pass it or the responsibility for the failure that occurs when it passes – rest in the lap of Democrats.

Works for me.

Hope and change.


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8 Responses to Josh Marshall And The Sacred Texts

  • I noticed Marshall’s link to Krugman yesterday. I wrote about it as well, focuing on the blame-the-Republicans angle. But others on the left are starting to blame Obama himself, and Paul Krugman’s (and Obama’s) endess claims to “Depression economics” are not going to be enough to turn that around.

  • But in most areas of our lives, when faced with dire potential consequences, we put our stock with scientific or professional consensus where it exists, as it does here.

    cf the global consensus in 2002 that Saddam had WMDs.

  • Consensus.  You mean like the phlogiston theory of matter and energy?  Or the miasma theory of disease?  Spontaneous Generation?  All of these were believed very strongly by a “scientific or professional consensus” at one time.  And all were wrong.

  • It seems to me that the best political move for the GOP right now is merely to vote “present”.  Give TAO and the democrat scum everything they want while making polite but pointed statements about how the stimulus package is nothing but pork barrel on a massive scale and won’t stimulate anything but more government spending.  Show example after example of how the filthy dems plan to pass out huge checks to their favorite interest groups / causes: Hollywood, unions, abortion, etc.  Remind people that TAO’s approach has been tried before and failed miserably.  Point out that the subprime mess was NOT due to slack regulation, but rather democrat (spit) policies that forced banks to make loans to people who should NEVER have gotten them.  However, even while sounding the alarm and trying to set the record straight, the GOP should be “graceful” and say that they won’t oppose it.  They should be courteous, admit that the people spoke in November and that they understand that TAO should be given a chance, and then take a leaf from TAO’s own playbook and vote “present”.  The democrat trash (some of them) are smart enough to understand that they will then own this disaster lock, stock, and barrel.  Hopefully, some semblence of sanity will return and the dems (spit), afraid of the public reaction when people finally discover that they’ve been robbed on a grand scale, will do the cutting themselves.

    As it stands, the GOP has everything to lose and nothing to gain by trying to modify Porkapalooza.  Their conservative base will despise them for busting the budget, and the dems and MiniTru will pillory them for being “obstructionist”.  When the economy continues to tank, they’ll be blamed for not giving TAO everything that he said we NEEDED.  “If only the GOP hadn’t blocked it, the economy would be doing well and unicorns would be prancing in every yard!”

    Vote “present” and let TAO and his disgusting allies hang themselves.

  • The best political move may be as docjim505 says, but I doubt if they have the guts.

    What is the textbook macroeconomic thought on inflation? On the utility of spending money syears from now to create a stimulus now? The effect of rising interest rates, caused by massive government borrowing, on economic growth? The multiplier of government spending vs. private sector spending? Etc.

  • That whole Keynesian thing would be almost plausible if its proponents actually followed it. After all, it is fundamentally about counter-cyclic spending, which means not just spending more when times are tough but spending less when times are good. What I see some of the latter, I will give some consideration to taking the whole concept seriously.

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