Friday, January 1, 2016

Both Sides Do It, 2016 Version

Boy, that didn't take long, did it?  NY Times econ writer Neil Irwin:

Suppose it is dinnertime, and the phone rings. It is a polite survey taker with a simple question for you: How is the economy doing? 
You might answer the question based upon the news stories you’ve seen recently about the latest unemployment rate, or perhaps based on anecdotal observations, such as whether your long-jobless cousin has had any luck finding work. 
But a wide range of academic work suggests a different factor that is likely to shape your answer: whether the current occupant of the White House is of your preferred political party.

With you so far.

Did unemployment get better or worse during Ronald Reagan’s presidency? In a 1988 survey, some 80 percent of dedicated Republicans accurately said it had improved, compared with 30 percent of loyal Democrats. In the 1990s, the pattern reversed on a range of factual questions about economic and fiscal issues. In a 1997 survey, for example, Republicans were far less likely than Democrats to acknowledge that the budget deficit had declined during the Bill Clinton administration.

OK, sure, "facts don't matter" has been with us for some time now.

As an economics writer, I see the same thing anecdotally. When I wrote articles recently about the unemployment rate’s dip to 5 percent, I received vehement responses from conservatives convinced that the Obama administration was cooking the numbers. They were not so different from responses I received from liberals when the jobless rate was at that level in 2005, during the George W. Bush administration.

I see.

So the part where we discovered that the Bush administration and Alan Greenspan really were cooking the books on that 5% unemployment, the economy collapsed, and Obama inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression never happened, because Both Sides Do It.

We're actively comparing a near global economic collapse of the Bush economy to the recovery of the Obama years, hamstrung as it was by Republicans who wanted the economy to stay bad so they could win the White House back.

OK, sure Neil.  Both sides, right?

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