Monday, January 17, 2011

Just Who is Conducting a War on Logic?

In his column today, the hyper-partisan Paul Krugman is excoriating the Republicans in Congress for what he claims is their ongoing "war on logic." Krugman may be partially correct, given that we are dealing with Washington, D.C., and the Republicans, but the way he defends his own point are, well, violations of logical constructs.

In other words, Krugman seems to be adept at recognizing breaches of logic because he long ago gave up logic in the pursuit of partisan attacks disguised as economic analysis. I will not concentrate on his actual attacks on the Republicans, as I don't want readers to think that I have a whit of trust for the GOP, which proved long ago that it was a party of fiscal recklessness, and whose leaders (and most of the rank-and-file, for that matter) still seem wedded to the destructive belief that we can have our empire abroad and freedom at home.

Instead, I want to concentrate on other points to note why I am saying that Krugman claims that he is fighting against a "war on logic" by declaring war on...logic. He writes:
So, about that nonsense: this week the House is expected to pass H.R. 2, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act — its actual name. But Republicans have a small problem: they claim to care about budget deficits, yet the Congressional Budget Office says that repealing last year’s health reform would increase the deficit. (Emphasis mine)
Krugman claims that repealing ObamaCare actually will swell the federal deficit. Why? Because the Congressional Budget Office says so.

He is claiming that a projection by an office that rarely is correct in its projections, and whose principals are eager to please their congressional masters, is something akin to Holy Writ. (I add that Krugman believes that the CBO is infallible ONLY when Democrats control Congress, part of his logical chain depends upon which is the party in power.)

One of the important aspects of logic is that one have correct premises, and Krugman is declaring that his premise -- ObamaCare as contained in the 2,500-page monstrosity that no one has read in toto -- is correct. Yet, there really is no reason to assume that the CBO is correct; we are to assume that it is because Krugman says it is.

What Krugman claims -- and it under-girds his entire logical edifice -- is that bills passed by Congress by Democrat majorities and signed by a Democrat president will have the exact results that its creators claim they will have. In Krugman's logical world, there is no Law of Unintended Consequences, there are no perverse incentives that are created, nor does anyone negatively affected by the legislation ever change his or her behavior.

Furthermore, there is nothing wrong in Krugman's world in setting up straw men and then demolishing the false creation, and then claiming an intellectual triumph. But Paul Krugman is a logical man. Why? Because he says so.


Daniel Hewitt said...

If the repeal will increase health care spending, shouldn't Krugman be supporting it? After all, he is always whining that Republicans want to decrease (slash) health care spending.

Secondly, if repealing Obamacare will indeed increase budget deficits, Krugman should be supporting it for this reason also. Bigger deficits by way of increased spending (not decreased revenue) are what Krugman has been advocating for a few years now.

AJ Witoslawski said...

Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin attacked the CBO projections about Obamacare, because they contained several accounting tricks. You can view his deconstruction of the CBO scoring here:

zackA89 said...

AJ, yes, I was just going to add that too. Rep. Paul Ryan eviscerated Obama on this issue during the health care summit, and it was quite funny to watch it actually. Many on the left even acknowledged all the gimmicks, double counting, and accounting tricks that were used to mask its true cost. Only in Washington DC can you say were going to give 30 million more Americans health care and lower costs. Just dosen’t make sense. Plus, remember how much they said Medicare and Medicaid would cost? Hmm…

Heres a link to an op ed ryan wrote about the issue.

Anonymous said...

Although the CBO has its many faults, it does fair job providing budget data for the U.S. Government (government budgets are always unpredictable no matter who does the counting) under both Republican and Democratic legislatures. Democrats have whined about CBO projections as much as Republicans have in the past.

For all we know, the CBO's projections for H.R. 2 may be valid. Democrats, however, are failing to remind everyone that Obamacare is significantly front-loaded. The health care bill includes 10 years of revenue with only 6 years of spending (most of the law will not go into effect until 2014).

Democrats who authored the bill may have intended to generate a surplus with the additional 4 years of taxes. Obviously, they conclude that repealing Obamacare, which includes repealing the 4 years of tax surplus, will generate a larger deficit.

10 years from now, how do they expect to pay for the following decade of Obamacare?