It’s a Nobel Laureate’s Prerogative to Change His Mind
Paul Krugman has often touted the wonders of the information coming out of the Congressional Budge Office (CBO). This was especially true during the health care bill and stimulus debates. James Taranto hits some of the highlights.
“The Congressional Budget Office has looked at the future of American health insurance, and it works. . . . Last week the budget office scored the full proposed legislation from the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). And the news–which got far less play in the media than the downbeat earlier analysis–was very, very good. Yes, we can reform health care.”–former Enron adviser Paul Krugman, New York Times, July 6, 2009 “Over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office has concluded, the proposed legislation would reduce, not increase, the budget deficit. And by giving us a chance, finally, to rein in the ever-growing spending of Medicare, it would greatly improve our long-run fiscal prospects.”–Krugman, New York Times, Dec. 4, 2009 “The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that by 2050 the emissions limits in recent proposed legislation would reduce real G.D.P. by between 1 percent and 3.5 percent from what it would otherwise have been. If we split the difference, that says that emissions limits would slow the economy’s annual growth over the next 40 years by around one-twentieth of a percentage point–from 2.37 percent to 2.32 percent. That’s not much.”–Krugman, New York Times, Dec. 7, 2009 “Fortunately, the Congressional Budget Office, which has done an evaluation of the roadmap [for cutting Medicare costs, offered by Rep. Paul Ryan], offers a translation: ‘Some higher-income enrollees would pay higher premiums, and some program payments would be reduced.’ In short, there would be Medicare cuts.”–Krugman, New York Times, Feb. 12, 2010 “And it gets better as we go further into the future: the Congressional Budget Office has just concluded, in a new report, that the arithmetic of reform [ObamaCare] will look better in its second decade than it did in its first.”–Krugman, New York Times, March 12, 2010 “As Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, recently put it, ‘There is no intrinsic contradiction between providing additional fiscal stimulus today, while the unemployment rate is high and many factories and offices are underused, and imposing fiscal restraint several years from now, when output and employment will probably be close to their potential.’ “–Krugman, New York Times, July 2, 2010 “That’s why the Congressional Budget Office rates aid to the unemployed as a highly cost-effective form of economic stimulus.”–Krugman, New York Times, July 5, 2010
But as soon as a Republican starts to use CBO numbers to show how his plan for overhauling federal spending and taxes, well suddenly it is simplicity itself to game the system.
“What you need to realize is that the CBO is the servant of members of Congress, which means that if a Congressman asks it to analyze a plan under certain assumptions, it will do just that–no matter how unrealistic the assumptions may be.”–Krugman, NYTimes.com, Aug. 6, 2010
This bit of information would have been good to give to his readers back in the day. You know, those readers who take everything he says at face value.
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