Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Justifications and collective amnesia.

How are the GOP trying to regain the deficit-hawk, good-housekeeping seal of approval after eight years of fiscal diarrhea? Jonah Goldberg quotes approvingly an e-mail he got to the effect that:

There is a BIG difference between the 8 years of Republican deficit spending and the current stimulus bill. I sometimes drive 85mph when the speed limit is 75mph - that doesn't mean I can't legitimately criticize the guy who passes me doing 150mph. One is pushing the envelope - the other is reckless driving!
The analogy is absurd, but the numbers are also way off base. The GOP wasn't "pushing the envelope" doing 85 in a 75. They were adding about a trillion dollars to the national debt every 18 months without a compelling reason to do so. That's a felony, son. I don't care how you try to justify yourself.

Then this morning Joe Scarborough noted that it took the nation 240 years to accumulate a one trillion dollar deficit and Obama is on course to double that figure in one year. Scarborough's numbers are also suspect at best. First off, it is worth noting that the national debt reached 1 trillion dollars under Saint Ronald of Reaganshire, and by the time his Holiness the Reagan left office in 1988 the debt stood at nearly $3 trillion. It is also worth noting that $1 trillion in today's dollars is only about $500 billion in 1988 dollars. Furthermore, as a percentage of US GDP it's only about 1/3 of the 1988 figure. $1 trillion in 1988 represented 1/5th of US GDP. 1 trillion in 2009 represents about 1/14th of GDP. So making the claim that Obama is creating as much debt in one year as it took the US to create in 240 years is plausible only if you're speaking to an audience of mildly retarded innumerates (the GOP base).

Oh, should I also note that the US had only been around for 212 years in 1988? Why bother.

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