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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Republicans Have LaTourette's Syndrome

Via National Journal Via Kevin Drum

“It’s the continuing dumbing down of the Republican Party, and we are going to be seen, more and more, as a bunch of extremists that can’t even get the majority of our own people to support the policies we’re putting forward,” [Rep. Steven LaTourette] said. “If you’re not a governing majority, you’re not going to be a majority very long.”

When I saw "Tourtette" I really thought the comment was about right wing Republican Tourette's syndrome.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Jennifer Rubin Surpasses Herself

She reported on Boehner's genius yesterday

Headline (not written by her) "Republicans Put Obama in a Box".  Uh Ms Rubin it would take 218 House Republicans to do anything and they didn't.

via Zandar who wrote

If there are still any doubters out there that President Obama is about to crush the GOP fiscal cliffslope position like a bug underneath a small moon, please factor in Jennifer Rubin’s assessment that he’s been checkmated by Orange Julius

My interest in Rubin's column focuses on the line

" Poor Senate Dems will actually have to vote on something."  

Uh the Senate passed a  bill which extended tax cuts on income under $250,000.   They have voted on a plan B(in contrast to the house which just adjourned).   Also Sen McConnell introduced Obama's full proposal as a bill, then filibustered it.

The question of whether Senate Democrats have voted on something is not a matter of opinion.  In the same column, Rubin asserts that 53 Senate Democrats voted for Boehner's plan B.  This is also false  -- she is claiming that a different bill is essentially the same and IIRC assuming that raising taxes on income over  $1,000,000,000 is the same as raising taxes on income over $250,000.  

But to claim that Senate Democrats have voter for a Boehner's plan B and to hope that they "will actually have to vote on something" in the same column is extraordinary even for  Rubin.

I try not to make predicitons, but I can't help predicting that she will write a column about how Boehner is a fool not mentioning this column about how he is a genius.    He will be in distinguished compay, but, sadly, doesn't own a car elevator or a dancing horse.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why cant conservatives spell ?

Yes it is the height of absurdity for me to comment on anyone else's spelling but here is a screen capture from

Against gun control and the apostrophe.  I have no guess whether "limiting" should be "which would limit" or "which limits" for the petitioner's intended meaning to be communicated in grammatically correct English.

Note that I support the first amendment write to petittion the governmnt for redres of greevanses with personal choise in spellling and grammer

Or to be constructive sign here

Just when I thought it was safe to get back in the money box

Matt Yglesias has a post with an irresistible title and subtitle

"Can Shinzo Abe Save Japan?

The candidate with a plan to cure what ails rich economies."

But then the post turns out to be about monetary policy.

I have a rule that I don't read Yglesias's posts on monetary policy as they cause me to become rude.  But he tricked me this time and here is my comment.

Ben Bernanke too has declared a policy of unlimited quantitative easing and increased inflation (new target only 2.5% but that's higher than current inflation).  The declaration (which was a surprise) had essentially no effect on prices for medium term treasuries, TIPS or the breakeven.

I was wondering when you would comment, since you have confidently asserted again and again that if only the FOMC did what it just did, expected inflation would jump and then GDP growth would increase.

However, instead of noting the utter total failure of your past predictions (and the perfect confirmation of mine) you just boldly make new predictions.

Face fact,  like conventional monetary policy (in the US the Federal Funds rate) forward guidance is pedal to the metal.   It's long past time for you to start climbing down.

On Menzie Chinn and Modern Macro

Menzie Chinn reports on a discussion with Heritage Foundation economists.  I focus on one sentence and flip out as usual.

My comment.

I'm going to take them at their word and pretend they consider a modern intertemporal model as in  "Heritage Foundation economists, like most academic macroeconomists, have put away the old Keynesian model in favor of modern alternatives."  Now I ask why ? The old Keynesian model has proven extremely useful in forecasting over the past, well 74 years.  In contrast the modern alternatives have failed and failed and failed.

Newer is not necessarily better.  For years I have been asking my fellow macro economists for evidence that adding intertemporal maximization to macro has had any empirically useful implications.

I have yet to get an answer.  See

Basically I get the demonstrably false claim that old Keynesians believed that an expectations un augmented phillips curve illustrated a long term trade off

The Heritage economists make elementary errors, but academic macroeconomists who don't make those errors (definitely including Robert Waldmann) have failed to demonstrate scientific progress beyond the old Keynesian model.  We have nicer math and extremely powerful intellectual fashion, but no actual evidence of progress.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Easy as Pi

Athony Weiner's worst Indiscretion

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner will forever be remembered as the Twitter Twit who didn't understand that when you go to someone's profile and Twitter invites you to "Tweet to @name" you are being invited to send a tweet which begins with @name to your entire stream (in his case including an obsessive looking for evidence that he was screwing around) and not direct messaging @name.

But that was nothing compared to the error which I made too (OK I've made the Tweet to error too but not showing my tighty whities.  ).  He wrote that Medicare buy in (people age 55-64 can get Medicare if they pay the full expected cost of insuring them) was better than the public option somewhere where Joe Lieberman could read it.  He too is not on Atrios's e-mail list (Duncan Black specifically and 100% seriously warned all his blogger friends to not absolutely no way write anything good about buy in where Lieberman might read it).   Now I don't feel personally responsible for Lieberman single handedly blocking the reform, since I am sure that he (like the crazy guy who screen captured the photo of Weiner's Weiner) doesn't read this blog.

Now it was probably inevitable that Lieberman would hear that lefties actually prefer Medicare buy in to the public option, but Weiner being a very loud very partisan very un Lieberman was the worst possible messenger.

I just learn that Steve Benen, like Duncan Black knew that there was a huge risk in letting Lieberman know that we support something, since then he will automatically oppose it and just think this years best Chirstmas present will be the adjournment of the last Congress with Lieberman.

But my point is ooops I did it again.  The current debate on the fiscal cliff includes the Republican proposal to raise the Medicare age.  This is an impressive proposal as it is the worst proposed policy reform since AIDS to families with dependent children (I think I won't type the name of the guy who thought that was a funny joke).   There is no doubt that Republicans insist on this mainly because they know that Obama hates the idea.

But I can't help thinking of a counter proposal to raise the age to get Medicare plan A plus plan B  for a premium which covers 25% of the cost to 67 year but allow people 65 nd 66 to buy in to Medicare paying full average cost plus 1% to be saved in the Plan A trust fund.  If Republicans really cared about the deficit (and chickens had lips) they would prefer this, since by construction it lowers the deficit.  If they really wanted to strengthen Medicare (and pigs fly) they would prefer this because it improves the Plan A actuarial balance.  They will have trouble explaning why they are against this proposal.

The idea is that if it passes, the line can't be held at 65.  Why not make even more money for the plan A trust fund  by selling Medicare to 64 year olds or even 63 year olds and .. Single payer !

Proposing switching from just giving (with 25% of cost premiums for plan B) to selling for a profit to 65 and 66 year olds is terrible politics. The proposal will be Liebermaned and will outrage the elderly.  Here I'm sure the best proposal is keep things as they are and see if the PPACA reforms save Medicare.  No benefit cuts. No concessions.  This is the hill on which Democrats should make their stand -- the Republicans will die trying to storm it.

But the idea of trying to sneak buy in back in is irresistible to me.  Good thing almost no one reads this blog.

OK  the the photo you've been waiting for.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Double Reverse Coat Tails

Ed Kilgore reports that someone at U Minnesota argues that Republican governors didn't help Romney with their reverse coat tails.  I am honestly surprised at the sign of the alternative hypothesis against which the no reverse tails hypothesis is not rejected.  I comment

If it isn't one thing it's the other.  The problem with data is that it's hard for them to average to exactly zero.

I heard a reverse coat tails hypothesis in 2011.  The idea was that the recognized horribleness of Walker, Scott and Kasich would help Obama.  Ooops the evidence against the 2010 vintage reverse coat tails hypothesis is evidence in favor of the 2011 reverse coat tails hypothesis.  Really my honest guess was that the allegedly unsupported hypothesis would be that Obama would do surprisingly well in states which elected Republican extremist governors in 2010.

In any case, the method of looking at who won states with close vote totals makes no sense.  The states to look at are chosen based on the same variable which is averaged.  I promise statisticians consider this, sorry to use technical terms, a major boo boo.

Rather the Obama vote should be compared to a predicted vote based on Obama 2008 vote and, say, the change in unemployment in the state January through October 2012 (that is what are called fundamentals by political scientists and Nate Silver, by which I mean the number Nate Silver calculated cause do you really think anyone else is going to do much better?).  Look at this Obama surprise by change in party of governor 2008 to 2012 so shifting D to R in many states (including NJ and VA switching in 2009) and R to D in none IIRC.

Well now I should just do it.  Really Obama 2012 - Obama share 2008 on Republican Gov 2012 minus Republican Gov 2008 (note I've dropped the rest of the fundamentals).  Oh crap, that's something I should just do rather than talk about doing it.

Oh hell will be half vast.

Nationwide HuffPo 2012 minus Wikipedia 2008 Obama's share declined 4
          Obamashare12 - 08
Florida     - 1 % Scott nega coat tails = -3%
Iowa        - 1%  Branstead negatails -3%
Indiana     - 6%  Deaver tail 2%
Maine       - 2%  LaMontaine Lameness -2%
New J     + 0.6%  Christie -4.6% -- which side was he on?        
Ohio        -1    Kasich Kost Romney -3%
Penn        -2.5  Corbett Cost Romney 1.5%
Virginia    -1.5  McDonnell ??? negatail -2.5
Wisconsin   -3.4  Walker V Ryan's hope ? about average

It sure seems to me that the nega coat tail hypothesis is supported by the data.  Obama's vote share declined less in all the states where I remember a Republican gov winning in 2009 or 2010 except for Indiana.

Would this be surprising ? Could there be worse advertisement for the Republican party ?