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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Since When is Chief Justice Roberts an Expert on the Budget and the Economy?

Since When is Chief Justice Roberts an Expert on the Budget and the Economy?

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Tuesday, 01 January 2013 09:32

In his year-end report Chief Justice John Roberts bizarrely complained about the "fiscal cliff" and the national debt, wrongly asserting that:

"“No one seriously doubts that the country’s fiscal ledger has gone awry."

Of course everyone familiar with budget data knows that the reason that deficit exploded was the economic downturn caused by the collapse of the housing bubble. It would have been appropriate for the NYT to present the views of an economic expert who could have pointed out that Justice Roberts clearly does not understand the economy or the budget.

Comments (9)Add Comment
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written by Chris, January 01, 2013 10:11
There have been Supreme Court justices historically who have been the enemy of bankers and neo-liberal economic thinkers. I wouldn't be surprised if Chief Justice Roberts thinks we should be on a gold-backed money supply.

Point is, legal guys should steer clear of the econ guys.
Relatively Speaking, Who Cares What John Roberts Says?, Low-rated comment [Show]
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written by bmz, January 01, 2013 11:46
Last mover: no one's ignorance/dishonesty is more damaging than those of Supreme Court Justices.
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written by Mark Jamison, January 01, 2013 12:50
Last mover: The Chief Justice has every right to crow about his efficient management (which would likely look a great deal worse were we to fill all the vacancies on the bench and clear out huge docket backlogs) but comparing his management of a relatively stable department that isn't really affected by current economic conditions to the budget in general is a mistake in logic that one would hope he might be immune to given his position.
The other, more important issue, is that the Chief has wandered into a political area that is pretty inappropriate. No one has the illusion that the justices aren't political, the current crop can't seem to help themselves, but if Roberts is concerned with the integrity of the courts then he ought to be a bit more circumspect before wading into clearly political areas.
Finally, his comments were at best gratuitous and at the worst a demonstration that he doesn't think very deeply about economic issues. Better to be silent and hide his ignorance behind his robes than speak and dissolve any doubt about his ignorance.
Politics
written by David, January 01, 2013 1:31
Taft was PotUS before being Chief Justice. Roberts was not. He would do well to follow Taft's example. Perhaps Roberts hopes to be PottUS.
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written by jay, January 01, 2013 8:15
It's always interesting when you catch a top-notch lawyer like Roberts committing a logical fallacy. Although, it's no surprise that a Republican is a deficit hawk. Ironically, he was complaining about not getting paid enough not too long ago. I mean it's so tough to live with only $200,000 a year after making only $1,000,000 a year in private practice. Pass the cashmere handkerchief.
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written by Procopius, January 02, 2013 3:01
"It would have been appropriate for the NYT to present the views of an economic expert who could have pointed out that Justice Roberts clearly does not understand the economy or the budget." Well, their mission was accomplished when they got a conservative to comment. It's just like the Sunday bobble-head shows. The rule is you must have at least three conservatives for one centrist; real center-leftists are a no-no; never, never have a labor union official or school teacher.
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written by liberal, January 02, 2013 8:28
jay wrote,

I mean it's so tough to live with only $200,000 a year after making only $1,000,000 a year in private practice.


Actually, judges and yes congresscritters should be paid much, much more. Their salaries are ludicrously low when compared to those in the private sector for positions of comparable power. The right thing to do is to raise those salaries considerably, accompanied by draconian rules on creative graft (principly the revolving door).
Lessons for Journalists
written by Ron Alley, January 02, 2013 9:20
The part that I liked about the article was this passage

The chief justice said that his branch of the government provided an example of doing much with few resources. The federal judiciary makes do with a budget appropriation of about $7 billion, he wrote, “a mere two-tenths of 1 percent of the United States’ total budget of $3.7 trillion.”


By putting the Judicial Branch's budget into context, Chief Justice Roberts makes me wonder whether he is a fan of Beat the Press.

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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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