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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Dana Milbank Celebrates Misleading Obama Administration Statements to Push its Tax Deal

Dana Milbank Celebrates Misleading Obama Administration Statements to Push its Tax Deal

Sunday, 12 December 2010 08:16

Dana Milbank is really excited as he tells readers in the first sentence of his column:

"For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of President Obama."

Wow, and why is Mr. Milbank so excited? Has President Obama stood up to the Wall Street banks, the health insurance industry, the pharmaceutical companies, or the oil industry? Well, not exactly, Milbank tells us that: "I'm proud that he has finally stood firm against the likes of Peter DeFazio."

For those who don't know of him, Peter DeFazio is a 12 term Congressman from Oregon. He has never held a leadership position in the party and has not played an important role in designing any major piece of legislation. (In other words, he does not have much power.) He has also backed President Obama on all the key items in his legislative agenda.  

But, Mr. DeFazio has criticized President Obama's tax deal with the Republicans. This got President Obama angry and he told DeFazio and his types to get lost. That passes for being tough at the Washington Post.

Milbank is also impressed that:

"That display [telling the liberals to get lost] was coupled with some hardball politics (Larry Summers's warning that rejecting the package would return the economy to recession)."

That's really cool. Larry Summers told the liberals that if this deal does not got through that the economy would go into a recession. How tough can you get?

Does Larry Summers have a model that shows the economy will fall back into recession without this deal? This certainly is not the forecast that the administration is using in its budget modeling. This modeling projects 4.3 percent as the growth rate for 2011. This modeling assumes the continuation of the Bush tax cuts, a continuation of UI benefits, and a couple of other items that would not happen if the Obama-Republican package and no subsequent language is approved. However, there are no (as in zero, nada, not any) models that show the items assumed in the President's budget projections, which may not happen absent this deal, boosting the growth rate by 4.3 percentage points relative to a situation without these items.

This means that when Larry Summers was playing hardball and telling Congressional Democrats that failure to the pass the compromise would lead to a recession he was saying something that is not true. Outside of polite Washington circles this is known as a "lie." (It is also worth noting that Larry Summers has a proven track record of being wrong about almost every major macroeconomic development in the last 15 years, the stock bubble, the housing bubble, the over-valued dollar, and financial deregulation.)

Apparently, at the Post, saying things that are not true to advance a political agenda is something to be applauded.


[Addendum and apology to readers. I foolishly accepted Milbank's characterization of Summers' remarks rather than reading the remarks myself.

Summers did not say that rejection of the budget deal would throw the economy back into recession as Milbank claimed. Summers said that rejection of the deal would increase the risk of recession. This claim is true, since the deal would be a net stimulus to the economy if enacted. If the economy does not get this stimulus, then it would be weaker and therefore at greater risk of recession. So, Summers statement is true; it is Milbank's inaccurate representation of his position that would be a lie.]



Comments (8)Add Comment
Obama Follows Boy Monarch Bush, Decides to Become The Decider
written by izzatzo, December 12, 2010 9:22
From the WaPo article, this quote:
But rather than caving in ... Obama ... pushed back with the full force of his office. ... the White House has delivered to disgruntled liberals a message summed up by Vice President Biden in a private session with lawmakers on Wednesday: Take it or leave it.

Stunned by the sudden turnaround of decisiveness from Obama, Americans everywhere spontaneously stood to their feet and saluted Obama as The Decider, just as they did for Boy Monarch Bush The Decider.

Dana Milbank got it right. Obama the Wimpy Compromiser has reformed. Finally the uncertainty has ended. No more waiting and wondering about the future. Resolute leadership has finally prevailed in Milbank's adult lifetime. As Yogi Berra would say, when the President comes to a fork in the road, take it.

Don't doodle around about going down the wrong road in the first place. People who think and decide at the same time are socialists. Be a Decider and take the fork in the road. If you leave it, you will die the death of indecision.

Stupid liberals.
written by fuller schmidt, December 12, 2010 10:35
As they said on SNL last night, Obama finally realizes that he may not have been born in this country.
Obama's Options
written by Ron Alley, December 12, 2010 10:55
Milbank's column is wrong on so many points. See http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...-centrism/ for factual errors in addition to those cited by Dean.

The merits of President Obama's actions become clear when one considers the options available to the Democrats. They could have broken the compromise into free-standing bills -- one on each issue. The Republicans would then have had to vote on whether to let each bill come to the floor of the Senate. If they voted against a bill on permanent middle class tax cuts but for a bill on a temporary 1 year extension of the tax cuts for the rich and famous, they would have to explain their actions to the voters. The same would hold with the extension of unemployment benefits.

What the compromise did was to let the Republicans off the hook. So, it's President Obama and not the Republicans who has some 'splainin to do. Despite Milbank's assertions, that is exactly the position in which President Obama found himself on healthcare.

The fix is in. There is only one party and the Republicans are in charge of it.
More Milbank Lies
written by Benedict@Large, December 12, 2010 11:23
Milbank also says, DeFazio claimed "nearly unanimous" opposition to the tax package - a curious assertion when only 54 of 255 House Democrats signed a letter opposing the deal," which is yet another flat out lie. DeFazio's claim was for nearly unanimous opposition among members of the Progressive Caucus.

Krugman has also chimed in: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...-centrism/
Dana Milbank says, "Everything I say is false."
written by diesel, December 12, 2010 11:38
Reading his column made me feel as though I had just stepped out of a house that had been swept up by a tornado and landed in a strange land. In his mirror-image universe, it was the intransigence of the liberal democrats with their unreasoned demands for effective health care reform that postponed the passage of the bill, and not the blockade caused by the Republicans which included among other things, appealing the results of the Minnesota senate election ad infinitum (delaying for as long as possible the Democrats having 60 votes).

written by PeonInChief, December 12, 2010 11:50
I do wish that it would be noted that taxpayers with a taxable income between $17K and $56K got no tax break at all under the Bush tax cuts. And since they probably make up a substantial percentage of taxpayers, most of the battle is about tax breaks for rich people.
For Obama stands against every working man and woman in the U S of A.
written by Scott ffolliott, December 12, 2010 6:59
"For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of President Obama."

For Obama stands against every working man and woman in the U S of A.

I like your style!
written by Erisian, December 17, 2010 10:06
Too bad you're not a singer.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.