Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Counterfactual Analysis

Ross Douthat engages in some counter-factual analysis in his piece today on the death of "The Grand Bargain:"
I wrote that the president seemed poised to campaign for re-election on an essentially centrist policy agenda: A short-term payroll tax stimulus, a plan for tax reform that would close loopholes while lowering corporate rates, and a long-term plan for deficit reduction modeled on the grand bargain that the White House and John Boehner were supposedly close to striking during the debt ceiling negotiations. The president’s goal in 2012, I suggested, would be to try to paint himself as the moderate bipartisan grownup, and dismiss the Republicans as extreme, intransigent, and hyper-ideological.
But the thing is that the Grand Bargain was not close to being struck. John Boehner may even have wanted to strike such a bargain, and in that case, Douthat may not be a roaring idiot, but that's not what matters in a constitutional democracy. The Congress was not going to pass that plan, and that's why Boehner's 'grand bargain' entreaties failed. He couldn't bring a grand bargain without being ousted from leadership.

Is there a value to this type of 'analysis?' It seems lazy to me, and stupid to boot. The burden of defense clearly lies on Douthat to prove anyone wrong here.

New rule of thumb: whenever you read a piece that mentions that a 'grand bargain' was 'close' this summer, just throw it out. It's trash, and very unlikely to engaged in meaningful, useful analysis anywhere else. The author is just too estranged from the realities of modern American politics.

No comments:

Post a Comment