quacking pool boy

quacking pool boy by David's digits

Politico’s editors, Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen, have gathered all of the GOP’s most disingenuous talking points and turned them into a set of campaign slogans for Republicans, which they then publish as news analysis.  In the process, they confirm once again that when talking about the economy, the D.C.’s pool boys are two of the dumbest reporters in Washington.

Here are Politco’s pool boys displaying their ignorance about the meaning of the national debt:

The size-of-government spat is a hard one for the president to win.

By the time the next election rolls around, the government will have taken on almost $7 trillion in debt under Obama. It’s hard to explain away a number so big.

Republicans will find clever ways to make that number more digestible, including handy stats such as reducing that amount to $22,500 in new debt for every man, woman and child in the nation – enough to pay for a new Toyota Corolla for each of them.

Or look at it from another vantage point.

In the past four years, the average voter has grown more dependent on government for his or her income than at any point since at least 1929, when such numbers were first tracked.

This means Social Security, Medicare and unemployment are the big income drivers – not new jobs and bigger salaries.

Oh, Lordy! Its a wonder these clowns can tie their shoes or get their honey nut cheerios on a spoon.

Now I’m not exactly the President’s greatest fan, but the myth that Mr. Obama has exploded the size of government has been repeatedly debunked, most recently on Krugman’s blog. See The Truth About Federal Spending. If you account for the fact that GDP tanked from the recession Obama inherited — that’s the denominator in the debt to GDP fraction, guys — and account in the numerator for the higher safety net spending forced by the recession, and add in the too-small stimulus to lessen the recession, you can account for virtually all of the claimed increase in government spending during Obama’s term. Lower tax revenues, including the payroll tax cut, during the near depression then add to the deficits. But third grade math is hard, and GOP media hacks don’t do math.

But that’s not the dumbest notion from Politico’s senior editors. Consider their notion that a $7 trillion increase in the debt over the years is a indictment of the Administration. These clowns apparently don’t understand that the bursting of the housing bubble destroyed about $6-7 trillion in home owners’ housing wealth. The crash of the housing market then destroyed more trillions from the nation’s GDP, and that accounts for the housing market depression that was already in progress when Obama arrived and has yet to bottom out. Blame Obama for not doing enough to relieve the suffering or failing to prosecute the fraudsters, but no one could have stopped that monster once its bubble burst.

Last Friday’s revised Commerce Department numbers for the “great recession” now tell us that by early 2008, the country was crashing into a depression, and the only thing that kept most of it from sinking into a full on depression was and has been massive federal spending. That came from both the stimulus and automatic stabilizers like unemployment insurance, Medicaid and more — all the things the pool boys think it’s fair game to demean.

If that extra spending now declines, as the 2009 stimulus and 2011 tax cuts end, and more stabilizers aren’t funded, then GDP will shrink and another million or more people will become jobless. Economists from Wall Street, think tanks and CBO all expect it to shrink by about 1.5 percent or more. Reduced spending now will shrink the economy and kill jobs.

That’s what the debt limit bill will do; it’s a jobs killer. It’s that simple. And all of the GOP Presidential front runners opposed the deal because it didn’t cut enough; they preferred policies that would kill even more jobs.

So would it be too much to ask the pool boys to ask a grown up, “what would happen if, instead of the government pumping that $7 trillion of spending into the economy over those years, the federal government imposed a “balanced budget amendment” on itself, so that $7 trillion — about 50 percent of this year’s GDP — was subtracted from the GDP?” Can you spell D-E-P-R-E-S-S-I-O-N?

Probably not. We’ll wait while the clueless pool boys find someone to do the math. When they get the answer, send a copy to the White House Chief of Staff, who is equally clueless.

So what about the pool boys’ insulting slap at Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries? In their telling, these folks are morally lacking, because more of them have become “dependent” on the government safety nets. Uh, when the economy tanks and throws millions out on the streets, more people need help. That’s why Medicaid and unemployment insurance roles have increased so much during the recession.

The pool boys don’t mention that those same folks paid into their pensions and government insurance plans for their whole working lives. No, now they are just “dependent.”

One more time, idiots: it is a good thing, not a bad thing, that the American economy could keep tens of millions of our elderly, poor and unemployed citizens afloat with small to modest incomes and some health coverage while we were trying to avoid the depression caused by the rapacious economic theories of Paul Ryan. The size of the population needing these programs tells you nothing about their moral character; it tells you we’re still in a near depression.

Honest reporters would explain this. Honest reporters don’t demean those devastated by terrible economic policies; they explain and criticize the policies and their advocates. Honest reporters would expose the GOP talking points as dishonest, mean and stupid. And then they go after the hacks in both parties that perpetuate these outcomes. But these are the pool boys, and they’ll never change.