Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Opinions on Shape of Pinocchio's Nose Differ

Yes the noses are different lengths, but both noses have a point.

Glenn Kessler (whose work I really like - honest) manages a classic of the genre. He discusses the debate over whether Romeney has proposed tax cuts for rich people, which Romney denies. This is a return to the original topic which drove Krugman shrill -- Republican candidates claims about their proposed tax cuts for the rich.

The daring headline is "A fierce tax debate, without much light"

OK I skipped to the inconclusion

Both campaigns are playing games here. Obama has embraced a worst-case scenario for Romney’s tax overhaul, on the grounds that Romney has not specified the details. Romney, for his part, makes tax promises without explaining how his numbers could possibly add up.

The voters are left in the dark.

We normally do not do joint Pinocchio assessments. On balance, we would say Romney gets more Pinocchios — at least two — in this debate because his lack of specificity obscures the choices he would face as president. Obama, in his speech, makes clear he was trying to fill in the specifics, but his focus on 70 percent of the tax cuts going to people making above $200,000 is misleading and worthy of at least one Pinocchio.
Two Pinocchios

The most disturbing part is that the conclusion (in a figure I won't bother to snip and paste) assigns two joint Pinocchios. The at least one Pinocchio for Obama is for the accurate statement about those tax changes which Romney has actually proposed (as opposed to the secret plan which he promises will take back the tax cuts from the rich but won't describe).

I think Kessler is basically wrong about Romney -- the problem is not just that he won't describe his proposal -- the problem is that he has made an arithmetically impossible promise to take back all of the cuts on high income by closing loopholes. Tax expenditures for the rich are not large enough to take back that much money. The problem isn't that Romney resuses to say how he would do it, the problem is that it can't be done. That makes his confident claim that he will do it a lie.

The problem is that this is on an inside page (I had to search for it) and Kessler is a bit ballanced himself. Romney can get away with lying and maybe even his extremely unpopular plan (he's not describing the loophole closings as they are even less popular than rate cuts for the rich) because journalists won't call him on it.

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