If The Numbers Don’t Add Up, Get New Numbers

Digby

This is how they achieve their long term goals — under the radar, changing the way the numbers are calculated to prove an ideological point and change our understanding of how the world works. The story says the Senate endorsed “a model called ‘dynamic scoring,’ which assumes that tax cuts will pay for at least part of their cost by generating more economic activity. The measure by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) called on CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation to include ‘macroeconomic feedback scoring’ in all future estimates of tax legislation.”They passed it 51-49 with the help of Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

It’s not the kind of message amendment you see all the time.

Senators love to use budget resolutions as fodder for amendments that can be easily turned into 30-second attack ads. So what did Republicans hope to gain by forcing a vote on dynamic scoring?

In this case, the vote appears to have been aimed at an audience inside the Beltway — and at the conservative groups that support Republicans’ biggest economic ideas, from tax cuts to health care…

But there’s a larger battle that goes beyond dynamic scoring.

Conservatives’ ideas, including revenue-generating tax cuts and a more market-oriented health care system, can only work if tax policy changes people’s behavior — and that’s just not how CBO views the world.

If the numbers don’t add up, find new numbers:

“Virtually all economists agree that tax policy affects economic growth, which in turn affects the revenue impact of tax legislation, but the Senate currently deprives itself of information on the macroeconomic revenue impact of its tax policies,” Portman told POLITICO in an email. “Requiring that CBO release dynamic scores of tax legislation for information purposes can help lawmakers better judge the possible budget impact of tax legislation.”

This doesn’t have the force of law, but I’m going to guess that the wealthy, celebrity Villagers will be all on board. They love finding out that the average Real Americans they identify with in spite of their money and celebrity will be much better off if rich people have more money. It helps quiet their cognitive dissonance a bit.

As I mentioned in my earlier post today, there is some question as to why average people now support deficit reduction when just a couple of years ago they couldn’t care less. Well, I’ve been chastised severely by Very Serious People in the past for suggesting that it might just be because our president and the Republicans have made it the centerpiece of their economic plans for the past two years. Why wouldn’t they think this? After all, “everyone” agrees that deficit reduction is the single most important economic problem we face — the only issue is whether it must be done by cutting programs alone or with a “balanced approach” of cutting programs and “asking the rich to pay a little bit more.”  Virtually nobody argues that we needn’t do deficit reduction at the moment at all (besides some scruffy bloggers and Nobel Prize winning economists, that is.) Normal people who don’t pay close attention to this stuff don’t imagine that both parties are willing to screw them so if they agree on something it must be because there’s no other choice.

Anyway, here we are:

Republican Party operatives have seized on a recent survey that they believe proves the GOP has a “winning message” when it comes to cutting government spending. Their widely touted internal poll was replicated in part by a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finding that most Americans see an economic benefit from unspecified cuts in federal spending — by a 55 to 18 percent margin.

Now, they are very explicitly against cutting SS and Medicare and other vital programs. But sure, they’ve come to believe that cutting the deficit will create jobs. It would never occur to normal human being that the entire political establishment of both parties would become obsessed with a policy that didn’t create jobs when we’ve been mired in high unemployment and an economy that’s dead in the water for more than four years. It’s just beyond their imagination that our leadership could be so wrong.

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