To every complex problem there is a simple answer: neat, plausible, and wrong.
A Nobel Prize-winning economist who is not Paul Krugman writes in today’s New York Times about how his nomination to the board of the Federal Reserved was torpedoed by Republicans on the Senate banking committee. Led by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), it appears that either these guys either have no grasp of how an economy works, or else they were just determined to stop an Obama nominee because the guy was an Obama nominee. Or both.
The economist, Peter Diamond, seems relieved to be giving up the position to remain in academia. He also notes that the people in charge of congressional monetary oversight obviously haven’t a clue about how monetary policy impacts every other part of the economy. He concludes,
Analytical expertise is needed to accomplish this, to make government more effective and efficient. Skilled analytical thinking should not be drowned out by mistaken, ideologically driven views that more is always better or less is always better. I had hoped to bring some of my own expertise and experience to the Fed. Now I hope someone else can.
The Republicans have their simple answers to all economic problems. In the words of Steve Benen,
The agenda is the agenda: tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, cut public investments. Good times and bad, deficit or surplus, war or peace, it just doesnâ€™t matter.
Itâ€™s as if someone bought an iPod, uploaded one song, and hit â€œshuffle.â€
Analytical expertise? A nefarious liberal trick, obviously.
Even when an Obama Administration policy succeeds, they can’t bring themselves to admit it — see John Boehner’s reaction to the success of the auto industry rescue: Maybe it succeeded, but it still failed. Because.
Update: Steve Benen again —
Diamond is among the most accomplished economists of his generation, and last year, was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics. And yet, there was Richard Shelby & Co., insisting that Diamond lacked the qualifications to join the board of governors of the Federal Reserve.
Makes you want to pound your head against a wall and scream for a while, don’t it?
Shelby’s argument is that Professor Diamond’s background is in labor market theory, not monetary policy. But as Professor Diamond explained clearly and eloquently in his op ed, understanding the labor market is critical to designing effective monetary policy.
There are people sitting on the Federal Reserve Board now who had no prior experience with monetary policy. And Steve Benen points out, “One of Bushâ€™s appointees has no advanced degree in economics at all and has never done any academic research in the field.” Yet Shelby had no problem at all approving that nominee.
Update: Creating their own reality — Our old buddy the Confederate Yankee writes,
The reason you were blocked Mr. Diamond, is that you are a Keynsian hack, with no understanding of real markets. The idiocy you espouse has led us into the largest recession on this side of the Second World War.
Keynesian economics caused the Great Recession? Isn’t that a bit like blaming bad weather on the Tooth Fairy? If the Bushies were Keynesian, I’m Brad Pitt. Just running up a government budget deficit by itself isn’t Keynesian, dude. There’s a lot more to it (here’s a primer).
But, y’know, this all goes along with the Dumbing Down of America. I assume the CY thinks that all it takes to make an economy Keynesian is spending a lot of money — otherwise, I’m utterly baffled as to what he’s talking about. And I assume he thinks the budget deficit is the cause of the Recession. Therefore, Keynesian Economics caused the recession. See above about simple answers being wrong, although that one isn’t even plausible.
Which is not to say that there is unanimous agreement among the experts about what caused the Recession, but from what I see no one educated enough to correctly spell “Keynesian” thinks Keynesian policies had anything to do with it.
Update: Don’t miss “None Dare Call It Treason” at Balloon Juice. Do read the whole thing, but here’s the part that righties will howl about —
We face real, enormous problems. Yet the Republican party has decided that its return to power by any means is more important than the interests of the United States. Why else block an obviously overqualified person to help set monetary policy, except for the fear that his policy ideas might work? How else to describeâ€”other than the pursuit of party advantage over Country Firstâ€”the increasingly vocal murmurings that the GOP should push the US into default in order to so damage the American (and world!) economy that even as weak a candidate as any in the current GOP pool could defeat President Obama in 2012? …
… I suppose there are some out there (a quotidian gossip, perhaps) who might find the use of words like â€œtreasonâ€ to be, well, uncivil in this context.
But how else do you describe actions that harm Americans now and are likely to weaken the US relative to competitors and potential adversaries over the years and decades? And when those deeds are in the service not only of trying to defeat a sitting President, but to deny that President the levers of government within the term for which he was duly elected? I donâ€™t know words strong enough to excoriate such Benedict Arnolds.
In their minds it isn’t treason; they are right because they are right. Their ideas are the only legitimate ideas, whether they work in the real world or not. Their candidates are the only legitimate candidates, and if someone else actually gets more votes, it can only be because of voter fraud. You know they think that way. Thus, nothing they could possibly do could be wrong, because they are the ones doing it.
Sorta kinda related — righties are still twisting themselves into pretzels trying to argue that Sarah Palin was correct when she said Paul Revere’s mission on his midnight ride was to warn the enemy of what our side planned, as if that made sense. No, dears, the mission was for Revere to ride from Boston to Lexington to warn Sam Adams and John Hancock about British troops movements. The fact that Revere was inadvertently captured by the British after he had fulfilled the mission and was riding away from Lexington does not prove otherwise, so give it up, dimwits. See also Ta-Nehisi Coates.