Fun with Dishonest Quotes from the Manhattan Institute

James R. Otteson of the Manhattan Institute begins his article “An Audacious Promise: The Moral Case for Capitalism” with a shameless distortion of a quote from President Obama:

“The market will take care of everything,” they tell us…. But here’s the problem: it doesn’t work. It has never worked. It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ’50s and ’60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.

—President Barack Obama, Osawatomie, Kansas, December 6, 2011

Clearly, Otteson wants you to think Obama attacked capitalism and the free market, but, of course, Obama did not. Here’s what Otteson elided between “they tell us” and “But here’s the problem”:

If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes — especially for the wealthy — our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty. Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker.

In fact, Obama’s words make clear that he was criticizing Reaganite supply-side economics, which, as a professor of philosophy (Chair of the department at Yeshiva University, according to his bio!) should know, is not identical with “capitalism.” As a professor of economics, Otteson should also know that, at the very least, Obama’s case against trickle-down has some strong evidence to back him up. It should occur to anyone arguing in favor of supply-side to pause for a second and compare 30 years of predominating Reaganism with 30 years of Rooseveltian-Keynesian economics to consider which was more successful at resource distribution and scarcity management in the long run. I wouldn’t want to be on the Reaganist side of that debate if I wanted an easy win. Continue reading

Beginning of a New American Revolution? #OccupyWallStreet

The following is a public service announcement on behalf of Occupy Wall Street. To participate, go here. Of course, if you’d like to discuss it with me in the comments area right here, please do. Continue reading

NYT: Americans’ Long National Free Lunch Daydream Is About to End

David Leonhardt very helpfully explains why Republicans are so single-mindedly pursuing what turns out to be a very popular idea, to keep the debt ceiling right where it is and force the government, come hell or high water (or both and worse), to get its financial house in order: Continue reading

What Makes Obama So Sure Independent Voters Want a Referee Daddy and Not a Roosevelt?

"Eat your peas."

Jackie Calmes in the New York Times today, in analysis pretending to be a news report, actually does seem to be telling a truth about what lies behind President Obama’s words at his press conference yesterday. I know Bob Somerby, one of my original Internet heroes, would be annoyed by any presumption to know what’s in the mind of a politician beyond what’s in his words, but I’ll explain what I mean after the quote after the jump. Continue reading

The Journal of the Ultimate Entitled Class Cries Buckets over ‘Entitlement Society’

The Wall Street Journal seems to mistake President Obama’s fumbling around with revenue fixes for the irrelevant deficit problem for what he should be doing, which is energetically rekindling a stimulus, with real spending on jobs programs to nourish the nation’s weakening demand-side.   Continue reading

Republicans Are Not Free (Is the President?)

Lancet-fluke infected ant marches to the top of a grass blade where a sheep will ingest it. Much like House Republicans and the supply-side mind virus.

Let’s get down to brass tacks: Republicans are slaves to a fantasy ideology called supply-side. They are not free to consider any actions other than those that enrich the rich. The ostensible logic of this compulsion of theirs is that the wealthy alone are capable of distributing their own wealth, that they do this by investing in ventures that create jobs for the non-wealthy.  But let’s be real:  Republicans are not free to think beyond the first step: Enrich the rich. Any sector other than the rich doesn’t exist for Republicans. Enrich the rich.

In this, Republicans are exactly like the lancet-fluke infected ants Daniel Dennett likes to cite when discussing freedom and religion. Like these helplessly suicidal ants, Republicans are merely the vessel by which a very dangerous meme propagates itself. Until very recently it was not absolutely clear how dangerous this meme was, but the conditions for a perfect storm unleashing the danger have been brewing since the tandem events of the financial crisis of 2008 and the election of Barack Obama. Continue reading