Chait Stains: On the GOP on the CBO

The CBO has analyzed for the effects of a raise in the minimum wage to $10.10 / hr, and found say 500k low wage jobs would be eliminated.  The Republicans say, see, Obamanomics kill jobs.  The Democrats say, no, you misunderstand… because you’re Republicans, and you’re dumb.

This is typical.  Republicans make some fairly no brainer critiques of Administration claims… ACA won’t save money, won’t reduce premiums, will in fact increase premiums… minimum wage will kill some jobs.  And the administration or its sycophants calls them liars and dumb, chortle, chortle.

I wouldn’t claim the GOP is always correct.  I think the GOP is often correct, economically.  But I’m more amused that the CBO is only credible if it comes to conclusions you agree with.  Now, both sides abuse this to some degree, and are hypocrites.  But to me it seems the Democrats are more brazen in their hypocrisy, as they really love to play the CBO’s non-partisanship and expertise as a trump card in any statistical argument.  Them Dems love their credentials and their non-partisanship baby.

So the Democrats with the minimum wage are on the wrong side of the CBO. Cuz its intuitive and immutable, you make the price of labor higher, and people will buy less of it.  I’d grant that the impacts of $10.10 might not be that much.  But they’re not nothing.  Obtusely or worse, the White House wants to argue its nothing.

This is a lie, as far as that goes.  And insofar as a reliable chorus of sycophants can be rounded up to parrot the administrations absurdities most of the time – Klein, Yglessias, Cohn – this is a bit too much.  So they’re not on board.

Jonathon Chait is somewhat different from those three.  I’ve been trying to put my finger on it.  Thing is, where many times Klein, Yglessias, and Cohn can be called on to parrot the Administration talking points, Chait is not quite ike that.  Here’s a recent example:

Chait is one of the real brainiacs, and you figure it would pain him to have to argue for any of the Administration’s absurdities.  So what Chait does, commonly, as shown in this example,  is acknowledge that the Administrations lies.  But then moves past that to make the argument that the Administration should or could make were they not captive to political realities.   Tradeofffs, blah, blah.  Then he goes on to call Republicans mendacious and dumb and stupid, based on his reconstruction of the argument, as if the presence of the Administration lie has no bearing at all.

He’s a better writer and analyzer than those other guys, bu its basically the same brand of obsequious douche-baggery.


13 thoughts on “Chait Stains: On the GOP on the CBO

  1. pm1956

    Ok, I’ll bite at your Chait Bait….

    First, let me state that i think that Chait, Yglesias and Klein (i’m not such a big fan of Cohn, so I’ll leave him out) are three of the best bloggers around (I’d add Josh Marshall and Andrew Sullivan to the mix as well).

    It isn’t exactly clear what you were trying to say about Yglesias on this recent CBO/minimum wage issue, but i thought his comments ( were good. He pointed out that the job of the President isn’t to increase jobs, but to increase prosperity, and if you make a whole lot of people better off and the tradeoff is a few people losing marginal jobs, then that is probably a good tradeoff to make.

    Chait was better, however, because he showed exactly where the multitude of studies on the employment effects of the minimum wage come down–there are lots of studies that say it has no impact on jobs, lots that say it has a negative impact, and lots that say it has a positive impact–and that if you average them all out, the academic consensus is that a minimum wage increase would have a slightly negative impact on jobs–which is exactly where the CBO comes down.

    But then he goes on to point out the irony/hypocrisy of the GOP criticizing the President for not doing enough to promote jobs–when the GOp positions on just about everything are anti-jobs, as scored by the CBO.
    “And yet if you did care so much about reducing unemployment that you were willing to suppress wages for millions of the most hard-pressed workers in order to squeeze every last bit of joblessness out of the market, what other elements of the Republican economic agenda make even the slightest bit of sense?…And yet the Congressional Budget Office, now brimming with conservative credibility, has spent the last five years issuing report after report assailing the Republican position. Republicans weeping for the half-million or so jobs that would be destroyed by a higher minimum wage would be shocked to learn that, according to the CBO, they have destroyed 200,000 jobs by blocking the extension of emergency unemployment benefits (which lift the incomes of destitute workers, creating higher demand). Likewise, the budget sequestration they have embraced as their cherished second-term Obama trophy has destroyed 900,000 jobs. What’s more, the CBO has maintained all along that the hated stimulus saved millions of jobs….If you are looking to make sense of all these debates, note that the CBO forecasts that the stimulus, minimum wage, and Obamacare all push up wages for low-income workers, albeit with some trade-offs. In every case, Republicans have deemed the trade-off to be unacceptable.
    When (like with the minimum wage and Obamacare) the trade-off is higher unemployment, then higher unemployment is intolerable, even if Republicans are happy to accept it in other contexts (like stimulus). When the trade-off is higher deficits, then higher deficits are an unacceptable price to pay for lower unemployment, even if Republicans will pay it in other contexts (like making the Bush tax cuts permanent or rescinding pay-fors in Obamacare.) Some conservatives are suggesting a higher Earned Income Tax Credit as an alternative to a higher minimum wage, but the prospects of Republicans enacting that are laughable. And when you take all these positions together, the party’s economic priorities are perfectly clear.”

    So maybe that is what always gets your knickers in a knot about Chait–he is so good at pointing out GOP hypocrisy

    1. Erik Petersen Post author

      Yglessias / Chaits point is fine. It’s a tradeoff.

      That’s not the argument the White House makes though, and I find it odd that these guys take it on to find a superior argument for the White House while never calling them out adequately for their bogus ones.

      I was trying to form this thought I have throughout the day. Then this gal writes as a column (but better).

      She even used the word obsequious.

  2. pm1956

    Actually, this one from Yglesias is much more interesting:

    And i’m not trying to rub it in anyone’s face that the “bailouts” of Fannie and Freddie have now become profitable for the Treasury, and the costs of the rescue operations fully repaid. I am far more interested in your thoughts about the issue that Yglesias raises about the so-called “shareholders” of Fannie and Freddie–do you think that they should receive any consideration at all?

    Personally, I’d be fine saying no, that they lost everything when the operations went into conservatorship. At best, i might be willing to offer some sort of compensation to current shareholders who were shareholders in 2008 (or so), but certainly not to the speculators who bought the shares for almost nothing as the values of Fannie and Freddie were evaporating.

    What i will be interested to watch for are people/politicians/pundits who called for Fannie and Freddie to be allowed to die who will soon be demanding that the shareholders get value now that there is value. If you want the markets to be “unfettered”, then there is no justification to give speculators massive windfalls that they are not legally entitled to.

    Want to add this one to your hypocrisy watch?

    1. Erik Petersen Post author

      Assuming MattY has characterized it correctly, I accept the govts position.

      You see this I think regularly, the shares of bankrupt companies, former stalwarts, will trade indefinetly, usually for pennies. Here I guess with Fannie they trade at a premium higher than that because the hedge funds think they have a legal / political maneuver to extort some potential value someday.

      It was bankrupt, it went into bankruptcy trust essentially. The income stream belongs to the trustee for now, the govt.

      Those old shares are no good. The expectation should be Fannie is recapitalized and new shares are issued.

      1. pm1956

        I agree. I just wonder who these hedge funds will be able to recruit to try to push their point of view. And it won’t just be the GOP (watch Shumer, for instance).

      1. pm1956

        NIMBY is something that really gets me going. The SW light rail going thru some of the richer areas of Mpls Chain of Lakes is a great example–lots of liberal Dems who suddenly are not so in favor of mass transit if it goes near them!

  3. pm1956

    So i just ran across this interesting article on the nature of hypocrisy:

    Apparently we are all hypocrites, because we are all so capable of both:
    1) holding conflicting sets of beliefs in our brains at the same time (eg: people who are murderers/criminals and good fathers)
    2) so much better at deceiving ourselves than we are at deceiving others (some argue that the only way we can be good at deceiving others is to first be good at deceiving ourselves).

    “Here’s the good news from Kurzban, if you can call it that: we’re all hypocrites. We’re hard-wired for it, in much the same way we’re hard-wired for self-deception and other forms of cognitive dissonance. In his straightforward and elegant book, Kurzban explains how contemporary neuroscience regards the structure, psychology, and evolutionary benefits of hypocrisy. Briefly, the self, as Nietzsche once helpfully described it, is a kind of oligarchy wherein different sets of beliefs can be entertained (and even committed to, cherished, defended) depending on the needs of the self in different situations. A brutal tyrant can still be a loving father, because those roles require different and incompatible belief sets.

    How on earth does this work? Well, the brain — and thus, on Kurzban’s account, the self — is partitioned. The coordinated brain structures that function to “govern strangers well” or to “hunt deer well,” let’s say, are not fully accessible — and are sometimes completely inaccessible — to the brain structures that function to “raise one’s children well” or “love one’s spouse” or (in contrast with the deer-hunting example) “care for one’s beloved deer hounds.” This partitioning develops not merely because the brain can only focus on and master certain kinds of tasks at particular times, though that’s part of the account. It’s also because the evolved human brain has to become skilled at activities that require incompatible sets of beliefs. To be a brutal warrior demands beliefs and attitudes that are fundamentally different from the beliefs and attitudes needed to be a loving parent.

    We might wonder if the brain and the self really can support such radically different attitudes. But Kurzban shows us that even activities as simple as assessment of ourselves and assessment of others involve brain partitioning. We are more generous with ourselves in order to encourage accomplishment, and tougher on others in order to maintain our feelings of achievement. This analysis is supported by a large body of literature on self-deception, and specifically the evolutionary advantages of successful self-deception, which improves our ability to bluff others.”

    here is the conclusion:

    ““If you want to know the right thing to do, simply do what is most difficult,” the poet Rainer Maria Rilke once observed, and though that might be a bit extreme — he wasn’t known for his moderation — the basic principle seems well-guided. Yes, it’s going to be tough to have the kind of integrity that Arendt demands. It will require constant self-evaluation. It will make living a moral life a difficult daily project. And the first principle of that kind of integrity will be that, chances are, we can’t judge the behavior of others. Contra Arendt, moral indignation is going to be one of the most difficult attitudes to sustain, so long as we are committed to avoiding hypocrisy. If we believe in at least striving for sincerity and authenticity, we are committed to tolerance; if we want to moralize, we’d best accept our own hypocrisy. “


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