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Excel Errors, Debt, and Stimulus: Is Our Politicians Learning?

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Sunday, 28 April 2013 16:16

That's the question we ask this week in honor of the commemoration of the George W. Bush Library. According to Politico the answer appears to be "yes."

Politico tells us that the Democrats in Congress who argue that there is no urgency to deal with the debt and that instead the focus of policy should be boosting the economy and getting the unemployment rate down are now increasingly occupying the center stage in the Democratic Party:

"These Democrats and their intellectual allies once occupied the political fringes, pushed aside by more moderate members who supported both immediate spending cuts and long-term entitlement reforms along with higher taxes.

But aided by a pile of recent data suggesting the deficit is already shrinking significantly and current spending cuts are slowing the economy, more Democrats such as Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen are coming around to the point of view that fiscal austerity, in all its forms, is more the problem than the solution."

The article then goes on to note the famous Reinhart & Rogoff spreadsheet error that was exposed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, which destroyed the paper that provided the intellectual foundation for the debt crisis story. It's still too early to reach any definitive judgment, but this can be one of those rare instances where new evidence actually changes policy. If so, it will be a big deal.
 
Comments (3)Add Comment
George W Bush Library, In Honor of Errors and the Elites who Educate Them
written by Last Mover, April 28, 2013 6:24
From Wikepedia:
This is an impressive crowd — the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elites; I call you my base.
Speech at the Al Smith Dinner for charity (October 20, 2000), as quoted in "Bush And Gore Do New York" (CBS) (October 20, 2000); also in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.
this and the wa po?
written by Alex Blaze, April 28, 2013 6:39
didn't think it was possible. I just assumed that these publications were just mouthpieces for various rich people interests and that they were semi-aware of that fact so they'd just toe the corporate line no matter what happened.

Does this mean that if an excel error were found in Colin Powell's speech to the UN, there'd be a million more people still alive in Iraq?
None o' dat fancy book learnin'
written by FoonTheElder, April 29, 2013 1:10
R pollytishuns no hoo payz dere billz. Datz awl dey needz two lernz.

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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.

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