Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Today The New York Times ran a story about the Koch-funded movement to convene a "convention of states" in order to pass right-wing amendments to the Constitution. Primarily, the convention-of-states folks want to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. The Times story weighs the pros and cons of requiring the federal budget to be balanced -- and I'm sure it won't be a surprise when I tell you that if you believe the story, it's impossible to tell who's right and who's wrong.

From that Times story (emphasis added):
Supporters say the philosophy that state governments and ordinary people usually adhere to -- that it is wrong and destructive to spend beyond one’s income -- should apply to the federal government as well. In that view, the $19.4 trillion national debt threatens to destroy Americans’ future prosperity.

“It’s immoral for one generation to borrow and spend beyond its means and leave the bill to the next generation,” said Scott Rogers, the director of the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force.
Okay -- those are opinions. Now for the con side:
But opponents say an amendment, not the deficit, is the threat. A government that could not run deficits, they argue, would not be able to stimulate the economy during recessions, when job-creating spending is most needed. And it would not be able to elude budget ceilings for benefits like Social Security, or for job-creating projects like highways that are financed with debt.

In truth, they say, debt is a fact of life for both states and ordinary households -- in bond issues that finance revenue generators like convention centers and bridges, and for ordinary necessities like cars, kitchen remodelings and homes.
Here's the problem: These aren't opinions -- they're facts. It's a fact that, in a recession, a federal government constrained by a balanced budget amendment couldn't stimulate the economy with job-creating projects and couldn't bypass budget ceilings for programs such as Social Security. It's a fact that businesses and ordinary citizens regularly use debt.

But these facts are presented as one side's opinion.

Is this a variant on the old Paul Krugman theory of "objective" journalism?
I once joked that if President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, "Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth."
Opinions differ on whether debt is commonly used, for perfectly understandable reasons.


Feud Turgidson said...

And of course, there"s Krugman, the most-read, most-linked, most-emailed opinion page writer on the very newspaper publishing this utter nonsense.

Mike McCarthy said...

The inability of the federal gov't to spend money to stimulate the economy, invest in infrastructure and help the citizenry in times of recession and depression is a feature for the Right. Mellon, Hoover's Secretary of Treasury advised “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate real estate.”

They think this is a good idea.

Buford said...

the Koch brothers really need to be recognized as the Domestic enemies they are...

Ten Bears said...

Krugman is overrated.

mathguy said...

Wow, Ten Bears, that's an entirely useless sentence. Care to back with some evidence?