Friday, September 06, 2002
Did a turnip truck just go by here? As Hoystory notices a disheveled Paul Krugman dusting himself off.
Krugman's latest is just another rant about how Bush is trying to influence the American public by framing the debate -- specifically on "partial privatization" or "private accounts."
The Bush team's Orwellian propensities have long been apparent to anyone following its pronouncements on economics. Even during campaign 2000 these pronouncements relied on doublethink, the ability to believe two contradictory things at the same time. For example, George W. Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security always depended on the assertion that 2-1=4 ? that we can divert payroll taxes into high-yielding personal accounts, yet still use the same money to pay benefits to retirees.
The Orwellian tactics don't stop with doublethink; they also include newspeak, the redefinition of words to rule out disloyal thoughts. Again, Social Security is a perfect example. Republican political consultants have found that in an era of plunging stocks and corporate scandal the word "privatization" has taken on negative connotations. The answer? Deny that personal accounts constitute privatization, and bully the press into going along. A Republican National Campaign Committee memo lays out the new strategy: "It is very important that we not allow reporters to shill for Democrat demagoguery by inaccurately characterizing 'personal accounts' and 'privatization' as one and the same."
I've addressed private accounts and Krugman's faulty math here and here.
As for Krugman's newspeak -- that's nothing "new." Every administration does it. Every politician does it. If Krugman would get in the "way back" machine to the budget battles between the Gingrich-led Congress and President Clinton and the claims that Republicans were "cutting" the school lunch program. In the "real world," where simple economics (Krugman's specialty) rules it was obvious it wasn't a cut, but a reduction in the rate of increase.
But congressional Democrats called it a cut. President Clinton called it a cut. The media called it a cut.
Is anyone noticing a pattern here?
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Welcome to the world of American politics, Mr. Krugman. Maybe you might want acquaint yourself with the surroundings before popping off.