Erskine Bowles is one of the co-chairman of President Obama's deficit commission. He gained notoriety recently by revealing the fact that he had no clue as to the size of the country's deficit problem even after engaging in a lengthy serious of secret meetings on the topic over the last few months. He had told the National Governor's Association that annual interest payments will be $2 trillion a year by the end of the decade. The Congressional Budget Office projects that even in a worse case scenario interest payments will be less than half this amount. Oh well.
Some may wonder how much people get compensated for such extraordinary displays of ignorance. This is easy to answer. One of Mr. Bowles paying gigs is as a director of Morgan Stanley, the Wall Street investment bank that was rescued from bankruptcy by the taxpayers two years ago. Mr. Bowles gets $335,000 a year for that job.
By comparison this is almost 25 times as much as the average Social Security benefit that Mr. Bowles has said he wants to cut. It is more than 10 times what the median household over age 65 earns. Such are the rewards of ignorance.
Dean Baker is a macroeconomist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University.