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Thursday, April 27, 2006

If You Are All So Smart Why Are We The Minority ?

Democrats propose "legislation that would put a moratorium on the Federal gasoline tax for at least 60-days to provide consumers immediate relief at the pump,” but would also "chop oil company tax benefits and burden refineries with unwarranted reporting requirements, making it unable to win enough support in Congress to have even a remote chance of passing."

ohn Whitehead, at the Environmental Economics blog, calls it "silly plus stupid (i.e., "inefficient" to an economist)" and Brad DeLong chimes in labeling the initiative an example of "stupidity."

Matthew Yglesias argues that proposing the amendment is smart since it "accomplishes the political goal of making the Republicans unpopular -- siding with their corporate masters to defeat a plan to lower the price of gasoline -- while also accomplishing the policy goal of not making gasoline prices lower. That, to me, deserves the label 'smart.'"

Atrios agrees with Yglesias
Smart Posturing

What Yglesias says. Sometimes our wonkier types just need to keep their traps shut. Plenty of bad ideas, especially when they're both relatively harmless and unlikely to pass, make for good political theater. The party out of power can't actually do policy, so relax and let them do some politics.

By the way, I guessed that Brad was at least one of the wonks gently chided by Atrios before clicking the link, which shows I am brilliantly stupid enough to spend huge amounts of time reading blogs which attempt to convince me of that which I already believe.

I agree with Yglesias that the Democrats are being smart. I do fear that they will blow it by being against gas taxes before they were for them. Posturing can be risky if you are not willing to actually implement bad policies. The only way to posture without appearing hypocritical is to be firmly, resolutely and consistently hypocritical. The Republicans have no problem with that, Democrats have been known to flinch. Still I basically trust them to not sacrifice electability for principle if it comes to that.

I also think that Whitehad and DeLong are being smart, very smart. By denouncing the Democrats' posturing they semi effectively buff their credentials as call em as they see em straight shooting non partisan policy intellectuals. This makes them more useful to the party. I stress that I am guessing as to their motives. I have never met Whitehead and have not discussed the issue with DeLong.

Finally I think Yglesias and Atrios are being smart, very very smart. By chiding Whitehead and DeLong they signal to political strategists that they understand politics and are willing to let their policy intellectual credibility take one for the team. By criticising Whitehead and DeLong they very effectively buff Whitehead and DeLong's as call em as they see em straight shooting non partisan policy intellectuals, which makes all four of them more useful to the party.

The whole "debate" strikes me as blogospheric Kabuki in which debate serves the debaters. Or as Robert Barro once said "sometimes a critical site is more valuable that a favorable site ... I mean I'm just speaking from casual empricism." (I hasten to add that cutting out the middle man by explaining in footnotes why the argument in the main body of the text is nonsense strikes me as a suboptimal strategy for developing intellectual credibility).

So my question is if they are all so smart why can't Democrats win ?


Have you ever looked at a map of gas prices in the United Stated based on county? Have you compared it to the results of a presidential election based on a county winner map? Here are a couple links what do you see?

Posted by JasonSpalding to Robert's Stochastic thoughts at 4/28/2006 12:46:12 AM

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