Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Herr Doktorprofessor, Outraged!

Don Luskin and his readers have pointed out how Paul Krugman's penultimate column - allegedly analyzing California and its tribulations - distorts and misrepresents basic economic facts, misquotes the sources cited and gets the basic math all wrong - but always erring in ways that support Herr Doktorprofessor's biases and trivial political point.

Today Herr Doktorprofessor rails how can Congress or the public make informed votes if both are fed distorted information!?

Well, he should know, given Herr Doktorprofessor's performance in his penultimate column.

As is increasingly his custom, Herr Doktorprofessor gives not a single example or any other evidence (distorted or otherwise) of the Bush Treasury department having distorted information to Congress. (He does assert that Treasury Secretary Snow meets with Karl Rove in Rove's office! 'Nuff Said!- corruption case proved!) On this point, he does not even provide his usual misleading quote from a normally unsupecting third party: "Professor Thisorthat of the nonpartisan Workersoftheworldunite Institute says that he believes that some might think that the information provided to some in Congress might have been led at least one or two to misunderstand certain data ..." He exhausts that device in arguing that the public was mis-"fed" in 2001 (I'm not making this up): [T]he veteran tax analyst Martin Sullivan writes of the debate over the 2001 cut that "Treasury's analysis was so embarrassingly poor and so biased, we thought we had seen the last of its kind." But worse was to come.

The "worse" that was "to come" seems to be that the Treasury Department is no longer making the results of certain of its computer models public and - God help us all - gave an analysis of the effects of the Bush tax cuts on a hypothetical American family to Tim Russert where the family was not sufficiently "representative!" There is not even a suggestion that Congress does not receive those computer model results, nor does Herr Doktorprofessor say the information provided to Russert was inaccurate for the fully-disclosed position of that hypothetical family. Nor does he provide a scintilla of evidence that Treasury's decision to no longer publish computer models (if that has really happened) was motivated by any sinister intent at all. And aren't genius academic economic types supposed to excell at running their own computer models? Does the Princeton economics department rely on Treasury Department computer models - not just raw data? If so, why does Princeton need an economics department with "researchers" in it?

Betrayal! Outrage! says Herr Doktorprofessor: Traditionally the Treasury, like the C.I.A., stands somewhat above the political fray.

Ah, yes. Treasury tradition. Perhaps Herr Doktorprofessor has the Clinton Treasury in mind. Remember? That's the Treasury Department that gave us then-deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman (a college friend of Bill Clinton's) testifying before the Senate banking committee in February 1994 that he had given top White House officials a "heads-up" on nine RTC criminal referrals that in one instance targeted Clinton's 1985 gubernatorial campaign, and named the Clintons as witnesses in others. A parade of administration officials then claimed under oath not to have remembered the Treasury-White House contacts, even though Joshua Steiner, the 28-year-old Treasury chief of staff who bore an alarming resemblance to a deer caught in one's headlights, had noted them in his diaries. Lloyd Bensen, the Treasury Secretary, soon retired.

Yes, yes, compared to all that, providing information to Tim Russert about a hypothetical family not deemed sufficiently "representative" by Herr Doktorprofessor (too many stock holdings!) should really stick in one's craw.

MORE: Luskin cleans up Krugman's trash talking.

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