Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Catch of the Day

Two in a row on the same subject? Yup. Today's is to Mike Konczal for ripping apart another part of Team Romney's defense of Romney's economic thingy (plan? show me numbers, or at least some sort of details). Well, actually, Konczal rips apart some of the supporting evidence: the bit about how economic uncertainty has increased under Barack Obama, and is therefore responsible for the mediocre recovery.

The problem? Brad DeLong caught part of this in the post I linked to yesterday, but Konczal discovers that the underlying paper the Romney economists are citing measured economic uncertainty in large part by counting mentions of it in newspapers...which happened to spike up just around the time that Republicans started pushing the idea that economic uncertainty was a big problem. Got it?

Spokespeople for the conservative movement tell reporters that President Obama's policies are causing economic uncertainty. Reporters write it down and publish it. Economic researchers search newspapers for stories about economic uncertainty and policy, and create a policy uncertainty index out of those talking points. The conservative movement then turns around and points to the policy uncertainty index as scientifically justifying their initial talking points about Obama and uncertainty as well as the need to implement their policies. Taa-daa! Magic.
Yikes! That's some real, fine, first-rate hackishness there.

Also nice: Ezra Klein asks the economists cited by Team Romney whether they agree with how their research was used, and they don't.

Putting the two days together:

Essentially, it looks to me as if Romney's campaign decided that it would be useful to have respectable economists supporting their plan, but didn't actually think it would be useful to have a plan, and yet didn't see any real contradiction between those two things -- or at least no contradiction worth worrying about. And there doesn't seem to be any shortage of Republican economists available to perform such services. So there you go.

And: nice catch!

1 comment:

  1. This is just priceless; the dog chasing its tail.

    Thanks for the laugh.

    In Republican morals on public policy, it's not what Republicans do that matters, it's how things appear that matters. The appearance of uncertainty, bad for Obama, even though they have not shown President Obama's policies created additional uncertainty. The appearance of an economic plan, good for Romney even if he doesn't actually have a plan.

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