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?

The Next One Out Of The Clown Car-son

With Pataki (who?) gone, looks like the next Republican voted off the island will be Dr. Godwin as his campaign is coming apart at the seams.

Ben Carson’s top aides have resigned, casting the retired neurosurgeon’s campaign into chaos just a month before the Iowa caucuses.

Carson’s campaign manager Barry Bennett and communications director Doug Watts announced Thursday they will leave the team.

In an exit interview with The Hill, Bennett blamed Carson’s close friend and adviser Armstrong Williams for a handful of political missteps and accused him of railroading the retired neurosurgeon’s White House bid.“I called Ben this morning…and explained to him the root of the problem is that you told me Armstrong is not involved in the campaign but he clearly is,” Bennett said. “My frustration level is boiling over so I told him I think it’s best that I leave."

Bennett said he believes “a lot more” staffers will follow him out the door and predicted the campaign team will be “decimated.”

Williams does not have an official role with the campaign, but he’s a longtime friend of Carson’s and has his ear on everything from politics to business deals to life.

Williams, who often sets up media interviews for Carson without the campaign’s knowledge, and the top advisers have been on a collision course for some time.

Things came to a head last week when Williams arranged for several media outlets to interview Carson at his Maryland home, and Carson openly mused about a staff shake-up.

The interviews caught the campaign off guard and infuriated Carson’s top aides.

I’ve been in politics 30 years and don’t know anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to have your candidate go on national TV and announce they’re taking charge of the campaign,” said Bennett. “That’s the most obscure idea I've ever heard.

No, the most obscure idea would be "The Pyramids of Giza were built to store grain".

Anyhow, with Carson self-destructing in the polls, on the airwaves and on the ground, 2016 looks to be starting off with a "meh" for Team Ben.

Happy 2016, doc.  Now go back to hawking your crappy book, please.
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