Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Friday, August 9th, 2013.


La crème de l’idiotie

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Republican Party

When one considers Rand Paul is among the more viable candidates the Republicans might offer in 2016 … well, let’s just say the GOP has come a long way since the days of Dwight Eisenhower and Thomas Dewey. And that long way is mostly downhill and into a big tar pit of stupid.

Here’s a bit of a recent Rand Paul interview:

You’re a big reader of Austrian economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, who don’t believe in stimulus and say the economy can return to health only through austerity.
You can stimulate prosperity by leaving more money in the hands of those who earn it. If you want to stimulate the economy in Louisville, leave more money in Louisville and send less to Washington. My plan has a 17 percent flat tax with very few deductions, and it would leave $600 billion in the economy. But it would work better than a government stimulus because of the Milton Friedman proposition that nobody spends somebody else’s money as wisely as they spend their own. I think you’d have a boom like you’ve never seen in this country.

Who would your ideal Fed chairman be?
Hayek would be good, but he’s deceased.

Nondead Fed chairman.
Friedman would probably be pretty good, too, and he’s not an Austrian, but he would be better than what we have.

Dead, too.
Yeah. Let’s just go with dead, because then you probably really wouldn’t have much of a functioning Federal Reserve.

This is not someone I’d trust with sharp objects, never mind the country.

In this same interview, Paul said,

…what I would say is extreme is a trillion-dollar deficit every year. I mean, that’s an extremely bad situation.

But Paul Krugman says the deficit is now at about $600 billion and falling fast. He also said,

I think it’s pretty clear that Paul actually has no idea that the deficit is falling; it’s quite possible that neither does Cantor. The whole incident reminds me of 2011, when supposedly well-informed candidates like Tim Pawlenty went on about soaring government employment during a time of unprecedented cuts in the public payroll. Once you’re inside the closed conservative information loop, you know lots of things that aren’t so.

Yes, and I suspect a President Rand Paul would make George W. Bush look like a genius. Dubya was, I suspect, sort of willfully stupid; he seems to have believed thinking was a job for the help. But I doubt Rand Paul had a choice in the matter. See also Jonathan Chait, “Rand Paul Not So Good With Numbers.”

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Framing the Issue

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Health Care, Obama Administration

The President’s press conference today was mostly about security issues, but it also included this:

…Now, I think the really interesting question is why it is that my friends in the other party have made the idea of preventing these people from getting health care their holy grail. Their number-one priority. The one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don’t have health care; and presumably, repealing all those benefits I just mentioned — kids staying on their parents’ plan, seniors getting discounts on their prescription drugs, I guess a return to lifetime limits on insurance, people with pre-existing conditions continuing to be blocked from being able to get health insurance.

That’s hard to understand as a — an agenda that is going to strengthen our middle class. At least they used to say, well, we’re going to replace it with something better. There’s not even a pretense now that they’re going to replace it with something better.

Q: (Off mic) —

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The — the — the notion is simply that those 30 million people, or the 150 million who are benefiting from the other aspects of affordable care, will be better off without it. That’s their assertion, not backed by fact, not backed by any evidence.

It’s just become an ideological fixation.

Well, I’ll tell you what — they’re wrong about that. There is no doubt that in implementing the Affordable Care Act — a program of this significance — there are going to be some glitches. No doubt about it. There are going to be things where we say, you know what? We should have thought of that earlier, or this would work a little bit better or this needs an adjustment. That was true of Social Security. That was true of Medicare. That was true of the children’s health insurance program. That was true of the prescription drug program part D that was rolled out by a Republican president and supported by Republicans who are still in the House of Representatives.

That’s true, by the way, of a car company rolling out a new car. It’s true of Apple rolling out the new iPad. So, you know, you will be able to, whenever you want, during the course of the next six months and probably the next year, find occasions where you say, aha, you know what? That could have been done a little bit better, or that thing — they’re kind of making an administrative change. That’s not how it was originally thought this thing was going to work.

Yes, exactly, because our goal is to actually deliver high- quality, affordable health care for people and to reform the system so costs start going down and people start getting a better bang for the buck. And I make no apologies for that.

And let me just make one last point about this. The idea that you would shut down the government unless you prevent 30 million people from getting health care is a bad idea. What you should be thinking about is, how can we advance and improve ways for middle class families to have some security so that if they work hard they can get ahead and their kids can get ahead.

Nice framing of the issue, I’d say.

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