I can’t help myself. Sorry…back to sales later today. First I have to comment on a segment of Talk of the Nation that aired on Tuesday, April 5. It gives us a look at conservative reasoning skills and the “experts” who back it up.
Neal Conan, host of NPR’s Talk of the Nation, interviewed Alison Acosta Fraser, Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation on the topic of solutions to the long-term federal debt crisis.
Conan is an intelligent and thoughtful journalist. This could have been an opportunity for clear talk about the fundamentals behind the conservative fiscal and economic strategy. Instead the so-called expert from the Heritage Foundation offered nothing more than rally-sign rhetoric that any right wing sycophant might parrot on talk radio.
Representative Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, rolled out a plan to cut $5 trillion from an already starved federal budget. He will cut assistance to poor and elderly while protecting the unbalanced tax cuts for the better off and wealthy in the United States. (Got to love the Christian right in America.) So much of Neal Conan’s discussion with Allison Acosta Fraser focused on Ryan’s misguided efforts.
Ms. Fraser talked about Paul Ryan’s “timeless vision” and “robust proposals,” but did a fairly horrible job explaining why his plan was such a great thing for the future.
In the first place, conservatives don’t have the facts of history behind them. We have been running government under an increasingly strong influence of conservative values. Lower taxes, less regulation, and free trade have been conservative principles advanced by the right and frequently embraced by the left over the last 30 years. It is hard to see how continuing down this path is a good idea unless, of course, you are unable to put 2 and 2 together and get 4, which is essentially what Republicans will not do.
Take a telling example from Ms. Fraser. Neal Conan is pressing her a little about taxes and tax rates in the United States. Alison Fraser doesn’t seem to understand the difference between rates and receipts, which makes discussing the simple fact of historic tax rates in the United States a cumbersome topic for her.
She insists that Paul Ryan wants to keep taxes where they are now “more or less at the historical average.” When Conan suggests that taxes are at historic lows, Fraser’s answer is purely Palinesque:
“Yeah. He’s looking out towards the long term. So if you look over 10 years of his plan, they get up as they – you know, as they are projected to do anyway under current policy, to return to their historical average. The reason that they’re at lows right now – and they are recovering – is because we had a major recession…”
And it gets better.
Conan corrects her explaining that taxes are at historic lows. And Fraser stumbles all over herself to agree — kind of. I quote Ms. Fraser again:
“Tax – no, tax rates aren’t at historic lows. They have been lower in the past, but they are not as high as they have been in the distant past. You’re correct there.”
Wait…Conan said tax rates were at historic lows and Fraser says first answers “no, tax rates aren’t at historic lows.” Well…actually she is going to say that they are not as high or as low as they have been “in the distant past” so in the end, Conan, “You’re correct there.” The logic doesn’t add up unless you conflate history into some sort of singularity. At some mysterious “distant past” we had lower tax rates, but we didn’t have the post-WWII economy either.
Fraser is eager to clear up the point.
Conan restates again that tax rates in the United States as a percentage of GDP are at the lowest level since Second World War. And Fraser’s answer to this? “Yeah. And we’ve had a major recession.”
So…because we now have the lowest tax rates since the Second World War we have a recession. Seems to me maybe we should be talking about raising rates again, not lowering them. Lowest taxes today and we have a recession. That isn’t good. Isn’t that what the expert from the Heritage Foundation Center on Economic Policy just said?
It is hard to know. The entire interview is rambling half-finished conservative sound bites. And this is what passes for an expert on the right.
In other words, there is no substance here. Still no facts to support the conservative claims. Facts are haphazardly misapplied anyway. Moreover the principles of economics don’t back up their proposals so they don’t dare tread into that territory. Instead there is nothing but ideological rhetoric packaged in simple-minded sound bites. And this is from an “expert.” Listen for yourself and decide.
- Clichéd Critics Attack Rep. Paul Ryan’s Budget Proposal | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. (gds44.wordpress.com)
- Can We Please Just Shut the Heritage Foundation Down Now? (delong.typepad.com)