Monday, July 18, 2011

Conservative Media's Approach To Policy

"Forget all the numbers being tossed around in Washington," begins today's New York Post article about domestic policy. I think I've heard that one before. It's as good a starting out place as any when thinking about policy. After all, the point of any deliberative decision making process (or even a meaningful thought experiment) is to throw reality, constraints, and facts out the window. Who cares that the federal debt can't be paid for by discretionary spending cuts alone? Just ignore that fact. We already established that facts don't exist.

Allow me to respond to the New York Post:
Think about a few key numbers that might help any person grope towards a reasonable macroeconomic policy in the next few years.
There's, for instance, the length of the current economic recession: 5 years and counting. There's the depth of the recession: 14 million unemployed Americans. Then there's the economy-contracting factor of taking money out of the economy in a period of anemic economic growth: for every dollar the Republicans take out of the economy, the economy will shrink by 1.6 dollars. For every dollar that the government spends by contrast, the economy grows by 1.6 dollars.

Those are the numbers that News Corp its business conglomerate allies want you to forget. They want you to ignore that 1 in 7 Americans is below the poverty line (The Koch-funded Heritage foundation even released a report attacking the poverty line yesterday). They want you to forget that the money that budget deficit we're facing was caused by shoveling $1.8 trillion of federal money into the pockets of the wealthy, super wealthy, and obscenely wealthy. And the current "debt crisis" was helped along by Republicans demanding an extension of additional tax cuts last December, costing Americans an additional $3.9 trillion. Incidentally, the obscenely wealthy got the most bang for their buck. And the middle class got a pittance back; less than the worth of government services to which they lost access.

But in essence, maybe News Corp is right. Americans should focus on the number of illegal foreclosures that happened in their neighborhood that were green-lighted under Bush-gutted regulatory schemes. We should focus on how much of the money we spend on goods and services ends up in the pockets of business lobbies fighting against our interests. We should focus on the number of malnourished children in our county. But what happens in Washington--those numbers that News Corp wants us to forget--matter a great deal to those numbers.

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