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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Paul Krugman Misrepresents the Truthiness of Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson (It's a Joke -- Lighten Up Folks)

Paul Krugman Misrepresents the Truthiness of Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson (It's a Joke -- Lighten Up Folks)

Friday, 16 August 2013 03:58

Paul Krugman devotes his column today to the unreality of the debate in Washington on the budget and the deficit. Towards the end of the piece he refers Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson the co-chairs of President Obama's deficit commission:

"People like Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the co-chairmen of President Obama’s deficit commission, did a lot to feed public anxiety about the deficit when it was high. Their report was ominously titled 'The Moment of Truth.'"

While Krugman is correct in referring to the report as "their report," Simpson and Bowles were not so honest. The website for the commission refers to the report as the "report of the national commission on fiscal responsibility and reform." However, this is not true.

Those who prefer truth to truthiness might notice that the bylaws say:

"The Commission shall vote on the approval of a final report containing a set of recommendations to achieve the objectives set forth in the Charter no later than December 1, 2010. The issuance of a final report of the Commission shall require the approval of not less than 14 of the 18 members of the Commission."

There in fact is no record of an official vote of the commisssion and certainly not by the December 1, 2010 deadline. There was an informal vote of December 3rd, in which 11 of the commission's members, 3 fewer than required under the by-laws, voted in favor of the final report.

Therefore under the bylaws that govern the operation of the commission, there was no final report. In other words, the "moment of truth" was a lie. The report that appears as the commission's "report" is not in fact a report of the commission.

Comments (6)Add Comment
written by foosion, August 16, 2013 5:24
Your headline says "Paul Krugman Misrepresents" while the text says "Krugman is correct". What does Krugman misrepresent?
written by Kea, August 16, 2013 6:05
Krugman didn't misrepresent anything. He knows the status of the report, and he chose his words carefully.
Baker Misrepresents Krugman
written by kharris, August 16, 2013 7:07
The facts of the case suggest the better headline would be "Baker Misrepresents Krugman".

Dean's headline is just bizarre, given the issue he has raised.
written by Alan, August 16, 2013 7:57
Perhaps Mr. Baker's readers would understand the joke if they knew the meaning of the word "truthiness". I enjoyed the joke!

1. truthiness (noun)

1 : "truth that comes from the gut, not books" (Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," October 2005)

2 : "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true" (American Dialect Society, January 2006)
A Better Title?
written by Robert Salzberg, August 16, 2013 5:23
Krugman Mispresents the Truthiness of Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson
written by watermelonpunch, August 16, 2013 9:37
I love Beat The Press's satirical and comedic post titles.

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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.