economy minimum wage Rule: Ask The Question Rule: Cite The Basis Rule: Correct Inaccuracies Rule: False Argument Rule: Focus Issues Not Politics Rule: Out of Context Rule: Sin of Omission

Minimum Wage Increase & Jobs

Over the past year, debate over raising the minimum wage has converged on 3 points:

    o its effect on employment  (particularly, on teens)
    o its effect on consumer prices
    o whether the Earned Income Credit (EIC) is a better solution for the poor

The non-partisan CBO’s February 2014 report, which analyzes the impact of raising the MW to $10.10 by 2016, paints a clear picture on the first point- employment, or jobs lost.

The CBO report states:

    . 16.5 million people (10% of total employment) will get a raise*
    . revenue will increase by $31 billion
    . 19% of the 16.5M, are from families below the poverty line
    . 2M of the 16.5M, are teens
    . 500,000 jobs could be lost** (0.3% total employment), the majority by teens

So… 10% with higher wages vs. 0.3% with lost jobs.

Not intending to be insensitive on the jobs number, but that is a difference of 33X of people who will gain vs. lose if the MW is raised.  Focussing on lost jobs without representing the larger number with pay gains, constitutes the biggest running Rule break on this issue- a giant Sin of Omission.

It is true that, in addition to the negative of lost jobs, the overall economic impact of raising the MW is murky.  The CBO says: the deficit will decrease in the short term (good), while the long term is unclear; and factoring in the negative effects of lost jobs, lower business profit, and higher prices, reduces the $31B economic infusion to $2B.  But heavily emphasizing the negative side, to the detriment of the positive (as well as any subtleties coloring either), obscures the full impact of raising the MW on the economy and peoples lives.

Other Rule breaks:

On Feb 18, Eamon Javers & Steve Liesman of CNBC, covered the just released CBO report, and though both, technically, represented the main points correctly, they placed emphasis on jobs lost. Mr. Javers glossed over the highly qualitative nuances of the number (see ** note below), and though Liesman didn’t, he characterized it as the second CBO “slap in the face” on jobs (the first being ACA‘s labor disincentive).  In addition, they each, seperately, broke the Focus on Issues, Not Politics Rule by predicting political controversy over the number.

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True, it was offered as a mere observation by both, but is there anyone left out there who needs reminding of how deadlocked our political process is?  Will giving more play to a self-serving strategy for inaction in Washington benefit us?  Or will we benefit by having as much light as possible shed on solutions to problems that are sinking our country- in this case, the continued destruction and decimation of the middle & lower classes?  This Rule is an important one! Stick to the facts you guys. I looked you both up online- you’re journalists, it’s your job.

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On CNBC, March 6, after guest Ron Unz made a compelling case for raising the MW, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera insisted that “the vast % of people on minimum wage are teenagers”.  Kelly Evans should have Corrected that Inaccuracy, coming a full 2 weeks after the report release (she left it to Mr. Unz to do that). A 2009 EPI Report also pegged the % of teenage MW earners low- 20%.  It is hard to know why so many (all on CNBC) have made the claim about teens.  They should all be called on to Cite the Basis!  Even if Caruso-Cabrera intended to say ‘the vast % who will lose their jobs are teens’, a true statement, it would still be Out of Context and misleading since teens comprise only 12% of MWers, and 1.2% of total employment.

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Further, Ms. Evans didn’t Ask the Question:  Why shouldn’t pay increases go predominantly to adults given the chronic wage stagnation that has helped to hollow out the middle class since the 1980‘s?  The CBO says: “employers facing an excess of workers or job applicants tend to favor adults over teenagers”.

To be fair, Mr. Unz did not Cite the Basis for his claim that a higher MW would save $250B in social welfare program spending. A 5 year (2007–2011) Berkeley study of fast-food workers found the cost of public assistance for those families to be $7B a year. Given that and the fact that only 19% of MWers are below the poverty line, it would be nice to learn where that $250B figure comes from.

Finally, consensus on devolving MW decisions to states, though not cited in the CNBC segment, has support from a study described in this NYT article. The case is made for setting MW’s based on regional cost of living standards, citing a 25-30% difference between bigger cities and smaller, more rural ones.

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In many news segments, advocates for the MW cited studies, such as the 1990’s neighboring towns study referenced in these Economist & NYT articles and a University of Chicago study mentioned on Charlie Rose (22 min. in), that showed job losses were minimal.  Critics, on the other hand almost never cited specific data to bolster their case, and resorted over and over again to tired, economic supply & demand theory, like guest Lindsey Piegza on CNBC.

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This CNBC seg, the NYT article and many others do refer to ‘mixed studies’. But by detailing one side of the argument while only passively acknowledging the other, we, the public, are implicitly asked to ‘trust the press’s judgement’ and assume the other side is insignificant.

On CNBC though, Kelly Evans is a bit more definitive, saying: “in studies that do show harm [to jobs], the harm doesn’t seem to be massive”.  To that, Ms. Piegza concedes, but then claims that studies are “tempermental, based on the assumptions” and, referring to the Feds recent Beige Book, adds ~“Calif. business owners are very concerned about the MW hike and having to lay workers off”.  Characterizations & anecdotal data like “mixed studies”, and ‘concerned business owners’, are somewhat informative (I don’t doubt the anguish of employers), but these news outlets really need to Cite the Basis for claims of big job losses.  Failure to do so perpetuates a False Argument if the data is not there (CNBC’s case?), or masks a biased press if it is (Sin of Omission by NYT?).  In any case, laying the data out, pro & con, lays the issue to rest.

Other examples of this pattern include a NYT, Great Divide series piece by Arindrajit Dube (an excellent, comprehensive article on MW), who cites his own collaborative study using 2 decades of data that showed ~”no detectable impact on employment”. Another by Gregory Mankiw, claims ~”many studies suggest a higher MW costs jobs” without citing the studies. Argh!

The one concrete exception came from David Neumark on the Feb. 19 News Hour, who cited his own 2007 survey showing negative impact on jobs.  He did not quote statistics from his study (& I did not read it), but he defended it as “empirical” when Thea Lee implicitly Mischaracterized it as “theoretical”, and not “real world”.  Even if the bulk of studies show raising the MW has minimal negative impact on jobs, it is still mandatory for them to be fairly represented & characterized. Cutting corners on some data, compromises the integrity of all.  It, further, erodes trust and promotes apathy, a scourge of our time.

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The most overwhelming, real life data supporting a MW increase was reported by the San Jose Mercury News on San Jose, CA’s own year-old, $8 to $10, wage hike.  The numbers tell the story:

    . unemployment was reduced to 5.8% (from 7.6%) ***
    . 40,000 MW workers spent $100 million in local economy
    . 4,000 new MW jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry were created
    . average weekly hours remained stable at 36.5 (vs. 36.9 in 2012)
    . overall business growth was 3%
    . retail business growth rose to 19% (from 15% in 2012)
    . 84,000 new businesses were registered (vs. 75,000 in 2012)

San Jose is in the heart of Silicon Valley, which rebounded from the recession more quickly than many other parts of the country.  Such striking economic data more than piques my curiosity on what other factors contribute to this kind of success.


* The CBO assumed a threshold wage of $11.50 for additional workers who would also be affected by a $10.10 MW increase in order to maintain employee pay differential.

** The margin of error for jobs lost is +-0.5M, giving a range:  negligible to 1M, with a “2/3’s chance” assigned to those estimates.

*** At end of 2013, unemployment rates in CA were: Statewide- 8.3%, East Bay- 6.5%, Santa Clara County- 6%, San Francisco-San Mateo-Marin- 4.8%

The second & third MW issues- the EIC & consumer prices- are continued in Part 2.

economy Rule: Ask The Question Rule: False Argument Rule: Focus Issues Not Politics Rule: Mischaracterization Rule: Out of Context

Budget & Debt Limit Stalemate- The Media As Enabler?

“Insanity is repeating the same mistake over and over, and expecting a different result.” That saying is often used in reference to politics, but maybe in the current political climate, the converse is true.  Maybe Republicans are applying a proven strategy- repeating an untruth over and over- and, via a feckless press, expecting, …and getting, the same result: appearing to be in the right on ‘willingness to negotiate’, thereby prolonging the debate on debt reduction, their goal. In other words, ‘insanity’, as in, ‘crazy like a fox’.

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Tuesday, on CNBC’s Closing Bell , Maria Bartiromo, in an interview with Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), said: “The idea that the President continues to reiterate ‘I will not negotiate’, isn’t it the responsibility of the President to negotiate? At what point does it look like the obstacle to progress is the President, rather than congress?”

‘The President won’t negotiate’: that is the familiar refrain from the Republicans as channeled through the media these past days. The answer to the question of it being his responsibility to negotiate is, yes, of course it is. The point is, he has done that, as well as be specific and clear on his position, which is also his responsibility, as it is the other side’s.

Ms. Bartiromo’s first Rule break was in quoting the President Out of Context. His true position is: ‘I will not negotiate under threat of government shut down.’ Her second mistake relates to the first. By posing the question of the Presidents responsibility to negotiate as she did, she implies he is shirking that responsibility which he is not. He is simply holding firm on his position as the Republicans are on theirs; thus, she breaks the Mischaracterization Rule. In this, she also forgoes the opportunity to recap and educate the public on the true state of talks, and to keep the focus on the more important issues- the budget agreement and debt limit. Isn’t that the responsibility of the media? This breaks the Focus on Issues, Not Politics Rule.

As for the second Question, Ms. Bartiromo Asked the wrong one. Instead of: “At what point does it look like the obstacle … is the President?”, she should have Asked: “At what point is the obstacle the President, and at what point is it Congress?”

Failure to check this type of routine downfall in the media allows agenda seeking partisans to continually game the system, repeating the cycle over and over, as it has across too many news programs, for too many days.

Using opposing parties in debate format, as in this case, can, despite badly worded questions, still bring clarity if those parties know the facts, and present them honestly. In the case of Rep. Yarmuth, assuming he was factually correct, we got some: “The President’s had about 20 conversations with the Republican leadership in the House about the budget since March. The Republicans in the Senate have consistently blocked the conference there, Speaker Boehner has refused to appoint conferees on budget from the House side. There’s been every opportunity to have negotiations on budget levels for the last 6 months, and Republicans have refused to do that.”

Tuesday night on Charlie Rose, when asked if “there was anything new [in the Presidents speech]?”, Chuck Todd (NBC News) said: “The President will support anything Boehner sends him that is ‘clean’, without any of those extraneous, politically charged amendments on both a spending bill and a debt limit, and he will take it for any length of time, so 6 weeks, 8 weeks… The President essentially agreed that, in that period, they’d be locked in some form of negotiation. … Boehner took that offer and called agreeing to that, ‘unconditional surrender’.”

Also on that show, Al Hunt (Bloomberg News) said the effective positions of the two sides have not changed in two years- Republicans want entitlement change, Democrats say no.

So it would appear that both sides have been equally ‘negotiating’, or– more accurately, equally maintaining their respective positions– and for some time. Such prolonged back and forth highlights the need for recaps. Recapping would cut through the dissembling and make crystal clear the absence of progress and the amount of time that’s been wasted ‘reporting’ on it in an endless loop of recriminations and False Arguments. Recapping clarifies things: it leaves the Emperor with no clothes, neutralizes strategies that ‘play the media’, and forces the Dialog to Advance.

And Advancing the Dialog, advances solutions.

This is a tool people, use it. There is simply too much work to do to waste this kind of time, over, and over, and over, and…..

Rule: Ask The Question Rule: Cite The Basis Rule: False Argument Rule: Generalization Trap voting rights

North Carolina Voting Law Changes: 2 Debates

The PBS News Hour and CNN’s The Situation Room debates on recent changes to NC’s voting law, offer a study in contrast on Rules adherence and debate integrity.  While both were illuminated by facts that supported strong arguments, CNN had more Rule breaks and became mired in False Argument with too much crosstalk because a few basic Questions were not Asked early on.

The change to North Carolina’s law, which takes affect in 2016, has 4 components:
(1) government photo ID is required
(2) early voting period is shortened from 17 days to 10 days
(3) same-day registration no longer allowed
(4) preregistration for those eligible to vote by Election Day no longer allowed

Debate participants included:
News Hour:   Tom Murry (R-NC Rep),  G.K. Butterfield (D-US Rep);
Judy Woodruff, moderator
Situation Room:   SE Cupp (R),  Stephanie Cutter (D);  Wolf Blitzer, moderator

In both debates, the case against the new law was made by contrasting the small number of actual fraud cases found in the 2012 election (PBS NH: <12 out of 4 million voters, gen. election;  CNN SR: 100-112 out of 7 million, combined prim. & gen. elections), with much larger numbers of projected suppressed votes, given the changes (PBS NH: ~300,000; CNN SR: “100’s of thousands”). Since Romney won NC by less than 100k votes, this could be significant.

PBS News Hour (no ads)

On News Hour, impacts of 2 of the provisions- voter ID (1), and shortened early voting (2)- were easier to seperate out, making for a clearer and more concise debate than on CNN. Mr. Murry noted only 3% of voters need an ID and claimed Georgia’s ID implemention resulted in increased minority voting rates. Mr. Butterfield countered that: “300k people [have no ID] and many people won’t [get one]”. On the early voting change, Mr. Murry said more locations will be added resulting in the same number of hours for early voting, overall. Mr. Butterfield clarified the law only “[gave] discretion to add more sites” and argued that an extended, not shortened, period was needed since lines were long, adding that Sunday voting, when many African Americans voted, will be eliminated.

CNN The Situation Room (no ads)

On CNN, Stephanie Cutter supplied stats on early voting: in 2012, 50% of African Americans, 50% of students, and 50+% overall- the majority for Obama- voted early, implying provision (2) would cause the vote suppression. She also emphasized that no voter ID fraud at all was found. This reasonably inferred that the voter fraud happened in areas that provisions (2-4) sought to rectify, calling into question the necessity of provision (1). (Indeed, when Mr. Murry was asked on the News Hour why voter ID was needed, he replied “it’s common sense” and “60-70% of the voters approve it”.)

SE Cupp, to her credit, acknowledged Ms. Cutters “legitimate concerns of voter access” but objected to her refusal to admit “legitimate concerns of voter integrity”. Ms. Cutter responded: “… [they are] trying to create a problem, or solve a problem that doesn’t exist …”, and asked Ms. Cupp if it’s worth trading “100’s of thousands” of suppressed votes for “100 cases of fraud?”, to which Ms. Cupp replied: “… there is so much voter fraud that isn’t reported since [Democrats won’t allow access] … “.

The debate became muddled with each talking over the other, repeating the same points, and falling into the Generalization Trap– Ms. Cupp for not specifying what type of voter fraud those 100+ cases were; Ms. Cutter for not identifying which provisions would result in what portion of those “100’s of thousands” of suppressed votes.

Ms. Cutter was effectively making a False Argument, in essence, arguing the entire law was bad because no voter ID fraud had been found, when, in the absense of attributing some of those future suppressed votes to the voter ID clause (her GenTrap), the fact that no ID fraud was found, does not even prove that that provision, alone, is bad, only that it is unnecessary. And though her early vote statistics imply that provision (2) would result in suppressed votes, by dismissing provisions (2-4) without addressing where the fraud cases occurred, debate was precluded on them.

Of course it fell more naturally to Ms. Cupp to specify what type of fraud those 100+ cases were, since she was the one claiming ‘legitimate voter fraud’. That is her GenTrap break. Had she and Ms. Cutter been more specific early on, we would have been spared the shout-fest and made progress in the debate. (Note: these 2 will soon be co-hosting a new show, Crossfire, on CNN.)

The above notwithstanding, it was really Wolf Blitzers job, as moderator, to Ask The Question (of Ms. Cupp): What kind of voter fraud were those 100+ cases?. With Ms. Cutter, he did Ask why she claimed “100’s of thousands” of suppressed votes, “when people can get an ID from a drugstore for free”. Ms Cutter’s response was: “Let’s see how that gets implemented”. Even assuming a satisfactory implementation of the voter ID requirement, this still left unclear whether, all, some, or no vote suppression would be eliminated.

As well, Mr. Blitzer was remiss in not following up with Ms. Cupps assertion that the amount of voter fraud is unknown due to ‘lack of access’, a serious charge. He should have asked her to Cite The Basis for it.

Am I splitting hairs over argument logic here given the disparity of fraud found vs. claimed impact of changes? Maybe, but it is precisely these cracks in logic that often give enough wiggle room to allow false debates to continue and persist ad nauseum. I’d rather close the discussion out cleanly, and move on.

gun control Rule: Ask The Question Rule: Cite The Basis Rule: Contradiction Rule: False Argument

Gun Control Debate: Same Rules Broken, Multiple Times Each

The amendment for expanded background checks failed to get the 60 votes it needed to proceed in the Senate last week.  Part of a larger bill, it was hotly debated, with criticism and accusations of misinformation coming from both sides.

So how did the media do with its coverage?

Well, there was plenty of it, but with key gaps that were repeated, over and over again.  In a 10 day period, I saw several Rules violated, each multiple times, often with the same person being interviewed on the same subject, on different shows.

Ask The Question & False Argument- it’s all in the wording.

The simplest one to catch related to the wording of recent polls that revealed ~90% public support for universal background checks.  On 3 shows- CNN’s OutFront with Erin Burnett (April 8), Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room (April 10), and MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Mathews (April 11, 2:40 minutes in)– the same man, Larry Pratt who is the Exec. Dir. of Gun Owners of America (GOA), questioned the overall accuracy of the polls because of the high support they also showed from gun owners.  Mr. Pratt claimed the GOA and NRA’s own polls resulted in only 4-5% support in their orgs.

Only on OutFront, was Mr. Pratt asked if the wording of the question in the GOA and NRA polls was:  “[Do they] want a gun registry?”, to which Mr. Pratt replied “They know what the deal is”, dodging the question.  Querying the wording difference could expose a False Argument that conflates a different issue- national gun registry- with the one of universal background checks, leading to confusion on both and subverting legitimate discussion on each.  Many, including Mr. Pratt, assert there already is a national gun registry, and that it will expand and lead to gun confiscation.  (More on this below.)

On Hardball, Chris Mathews did, post-interview, read the FOX poll question:  “Do you favor or oppose…requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers, including those buyng at gun shows and private sales?”.  Supplying the poll results, he added “85% said they were in favor”.

Though Wolf Blitzer had a spirited discussion, citing the 4 polls- CNN, CBS, Quinnapiac, and FOX, he did not zero in on language.

Take your pick- OutFront, Hardball (2:40 min. in), or Situation Room.  They’re all pretty much the same. (If no video below, click here, here, or here.)

So it’s all in the wording, and how many times have we seen that escape hatch left open?  All 3 news anchors should have read the poll question they were citing, then Asked The Question:  “What is the wording of the GOA and NRA polls?”  In OutFronts case, the question should have been re-asked, with any additional non-answers noted.

Clarification made.  Confusion ended.  Move on.

Cite the Basis- existance of a national gun registry.

So, is there a national gun registry or not?

If you believe Larry Pratt, there is.  On CNN’s OutFront he said: “Records are kept in a registry on computers in Clarksburg, West Virginia.”  If you believe Mark Glazer of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, there isn’t.  He claims: ~“It’s illegal to have a gun registry. Gun dealers do background checks.  Government records are destroyed in 24 hours. Gun dealers keep paper records, [they’ve] been doing it for 40 years”.

On CNN’s The Situation Room Mr. Pratt said: “The federal government tells dealers that registration using an internet portal becomes permanent information to the federal government. These background checks are national gun registration”.

How do we know who is right?  We ask them to Cite the Basis, then follow up on it.  That’s how.

False Argument / Contradiction- background checks vs. mental health.

The exact same False Argument and Contradiction Rule breaks occurred 3 separate times recently- 2 on News Hour: April 9 with Judy Woodruf f (5 min. in) & April 17 with Gwen Ifill (4:15 min. in), both while interviewing Lawrence Keene of the National Shooting Sports Foundation; and 1 in the San Jose Mercury News (AP), interviewing Wayne LaPierre of the NRA (March 29).

The current gun background check system is a 2 tier system. The top tier consists of the gun dealers who sell guns and initiate backgound checks on buyers. The second tier is the database known as NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System), which has information- criminal, mental health, etc.- on individuals, and is what is used for the background checks.  There are gaps in each.  Only 60% of gun purchases are subject to checks, leaving a gaping 40% hole in the top tier of the gun check system.  The bottom tier, NICS, is reliant on the states supplying information to it, which is voluntary and known to be incomplete.  According to Mr. Keene, 50% of states don’t submit records.

Both Mr. Keene and Mr. LaPierre agree that there should be more “focus on unauthorized access, … mental health [being] most important”, and “getting records into NICS”.  Yet both are against expanding background checks.  In effect, they argue for closing one of the gaps, but not the other, failing to completely solve the problem of access by the mentally impaired.  This is the contradiction underlying their False Argument of why dealing with the mental health issue from the NICS side alone is all that is needed.  Even if states comply and keep NICS up to date, people whose names are in it, including those with mental health issues, can still buy guns at gun shows, part of the 40% top tier gap.

It’s one system and it either works or it doesn’t.

Ask for poll wording.
Find out if there is a gun registry.
Point out an obvious contradiction in logic.

Honestly media, how hard is this?

economy Rule: Cite The Basis Rule: Contradiction Rule: False Argument Rule: False Choice Rule: False Comparison Rule: Focus Issues Not Politics

Paul Krugman & Joe Scarborough: Debt vs. Growth- A Question of Priority & Timing?

The current hot button debate over our two biggest fiscal problems- debt and growth and how to deal with them, has devolved into yet another needless stalemate in the media.  This time it has come in the form of False Argument, cast as a vitriolic and polarizing ‘either/or’ proposition, rather than a more fact and reason based- ‘both, but when’ one.  In other words, an argument that disregards the element of policy timing which, after months (actually, much sooner), has become clear is key in the discussion.

The Krugman-Scarborough debate began on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and was later excerpted, and continued on Charlie Rose.  It is not surprising that Mr. Rose, with his 50 minute format, can get to the nub and establish as minor differences between two people, what are otherwise often characterized as ‘explosive’ ones on shorter formats. Still, format brevity is not sufficient excuse to not zero in more quickly on the simple, obvious ‘difference’ here- that of the timing of policy- and to begin debate there.

The first 10 minutes of Mr. Rose’s show (including MJ excerpt) contains 3 Rule breakers and, though most are addressed as the show proceeds, those 10 minutes are representative of how this has played out on many others I’ve seen.

The first exchange has Mr. Krugman proclaiming that debt is not an immediate problem, which Mr. Scarborough counters, saying Medicaire and Medicaid are growing too fast.  To this, Krugman aquiesces, allowing for the need for cost containment, but cites the Affordable Care Act as having many pilot projects designed to be testbeds for just that.  Scarborough rejects that solution with: “you and I know that Washington DC is not capable of doing that on a micro level” citing “1993-94 and 2009-10” as examples. This breaks the Focus on Issues, Not Politics rule since it cuts off a politically legitimate and much needed debate (given Krugman disagrees with him) on health cost reduction via delivery efficiencies vs. benefit cuts.  In addition, though Scarborough gets credit for Citing the Basis with his 90‘s & 00‘s references, the False Argument rule is breached since those years seem to refer to healthcare proposals that failed to get passed into law, as opposed to programs that, once passed, failed due to bad administration (or some other reason)- two very different things.

Resuming discussion on Mr. Rose’s show, Scarborough observes: (paraphrasing: ~) “maybe Paul is more focussed on the short term & I’m more focussed on the long term” acknowledging the time frame issue, and seems to reject the either/or (debt vs. growth) premise that had heretofore shaped the debate, as a False Choice.  Progress!

Scarborough then asserts a bigger difference between them: ~“Paul thinks congress can’t do two things at once- grow the economy & focus on the long term.”, then quotes Mr. Krugman from the 90’s: ~”It is irresponsible for government to run deficits because of the aging baby boomers.” (ie. entitlements). Krugman, explaining himself: ~“It was irresponsible to be running deficits when the economy was at full employment, … we missed that window.”, continues with: ~”we should have paid down debt when economy was strong, … now economy is weak”, ~“for every federal $1 cut, GDP falls by $1.50, …will lead to higher unemployment”.  Scarborough responds: ~“The problem of aging boomers & exloding entitlements still exists.”, then issues a 2005 quote by Krugman on the danger of debt & asks Krugman if he’s been wrong for 15 years?  With his use of those quotes, the False Comparison rule is broken by implicitly equating the economic circumstances of the 90’s and 2005, with those of now, when they are clearly different.

As the debate proceeds, it is established that both agree on the importance of growth in the short term, Scarborough contrasting his emphasis on type of jobs programs, with Krugman’s- size. Thus, the false ‘debt vs. growth’ framing of the debate is rendered null, and the real difference clarified:

Scarborough:  Debt planning is needed now.
Krugman:  Any cuts now will hurt job growth.

The debate progresses, becoming more substantive and focussed, with both Citing the Basis of their claims to varying degrees of efficacy (one more than the other, in my opinion).  It is interesting to note that, throughout, the time frame in question (short vs. long) has centered on 10 years, yet when Scarborough is asked if he is concerned about the deficit in the short term, his answer is: ~“not for 3-5 years, but Medicare/Medicaid planning is needed right now”.

This flushes out subtle vagueries that have been lurking beneath the surface and now beg to be dealt with. First, while Scarborough already seems to have softened his position on the time issue with his statement above, by the ‘planning .. now’ part, does he mean congress should take it up, discuss it and maybe even pass legislation now, but not actually cut anything till later?  If so, as far as the notcut part, he is in more apparent agreement with Krugman on that too.  As far as the ‘congress taking it up now’ part, another anomoly arises. Since Scarborough concurs that focus on growth is also needed in the short term, and has called on congress to act and even admitted to Mr. Rose: ~”congress can’t do anything .. look at the sequester”, why did he goad Krugman for not thinking congress can do two things at once, when he apparently agrees with that?  Hmm, a Contradiction?

This was dense going, but my take is that something as complicated as economic policy absolutely requires getting into details, and failure to do so has a high cost. If watching the whole debate doesn’t make that clear (and I hope you do, as it is chock full of information), then at least view the first 10 minutes plus the disappointing backsliding Scarborough did on his own show the next day in [intlink id=”110″ type=”page” anchor=”VoW_Scar_v_Krug”]this Video of the Week[/intlink].  Progress made, only to be lost!

We have to remain vigilant, people.