How about then?

As we were enjoying our 2 minutes of blog fame yesterday (a distinction that very nearly rivals Joe Lieberman being endorsed by the Nasua edition of Auto Trader [brought to you by S,N! reader Bailey],) a few commenters took exception with our suggestion for an (anonymously) Andrew Sullivan-authored blog.

It took us nearly twenty four hours to come up with a suggestion that is both appropriate and funny different — proof if there ever was that we should have started this non-sleeping thing a long time ago. So let us revise our suggestion for Mr. Sullivan and offer that he start up a new blog at:

We would be quite interested to see how long it takes him, on the basis of his writing alone, to reach the amount of traffic he enjoys now. We shall speculate, if today’s Daily Dish is any indication, that it will take quite some time. Why? Oh, it’s so simple really. Here Andrew takes aim at Donald Luskin prot?g? Paul Krugman:

KRUGMAN BLAMES TAX CUTS: That’s the entire reason for the deficit. Yeah, right. [Emphasis added]

As is his (foolish and unsafe) practice, Sullivan provides a link to the column, which allows you to see what Krugman is up to. Read Sullivan’s quote above again, and then read Krugman’s words below. Ready?

A recent study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities does the math. While overall government spending has risen rapidly since 2001, the great bulk of that increase can be attributed either to outlays on defense and homeland security, or to types of government spending, like unemployment insurance, that automatically rise when the economy is depressed. […]

Why, then, do we face the prospect of huge deficits as far as the eye can see? Part of the answer is the surge in defense and homeland security spending. The main reason for deficits, however, is that revenues have plunged. [Emphasis added]

Krugman argues two things here, both far too complicated for Sullivan. The first is that much of the increased spending is not the result of Bush’s policies per se, but of economic conditions. Higher outlays for entitlements (like unemployment insurance) are no more the result of budget proposals than warm weather is the result of your local weatherman’s forecast. [Although it is true that the extension of unemployment benefits adopted by Congress and signed into law by Bush did play some role here.]

Back to Andrew however: he “quotes” Krugman as arguing that tax cuts are the “entire” reason for “the deficit,” while Krugman suggests they are the “main” reason. Krugman further confuses Andy by writing not only about the current deficit, but future deficit projections as well. Is Krugman correct? This graph from The Economist (which is now sadly a bit out of date) shows what happens to the CBO’s summer budget projections if you add the tax cuts Bush wants:

We would quibble with “main” (finding that the Medicare drug benefit is just as important,) but it’s hard to deny that Bush’s tax cuts have played an important role. (For the period 2001-2003, the CBO had earlier concluded that the weakened economy accounted for 53% of the change in budget forecasts, increased spending 24%, and tax changes 23%.)

All these numbers, we suspect, are a bit too much for Andrew, who moves on to make an assertion that left us scratching our collective heads:

The lesson for Republican presidents: you will never get credit for spending, so don’t do it. Cut taxes; reduce spending. It’s the only governing philosophy that conservatives ever have a chance of winning with. But they never learn, do they?

We’re not sure who this passage’s intended audience is. We don’t recall the Republican party ever pretending to be anything other than a lower taxes/reduced government kind of operation. [The reality has been, uh, somewhat different, though that is an other post.] Is Sullivan upset that Krugman doesn’t give the Republicans “credit” for spending? We’d email Sullivan and ask for a clarification, but he stopped responding to our emails a long time ago.



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