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Saturday, November 08, 2003

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RANDOM MOODSWINGS   

PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL  On our letters page, reader Dickie Sheppard reports on his very positive experience giving feedback by phone to New York Times reporters. And he's got tips on how to make successful calls yourself.

VIVA PAUL!  The editor of the "Ne Quid Nimis" blog points us to this hilarious picture from a bookstore window. Hmmm.... I can feel a new t-shirt design coming on!

SOROS STRIKES AGAIN  Ken Wheaton's "As I Please" blog talks about an article by George Soros in the upcoming Atlantic Monthly (no link available yet). Famous for selling the bottom the morning after the stock market crash of 1987, and more recently cited by Paul Krugman as one of Mahathir Mohammed's "Jewish speculators" out to destroy the world, Soros writes about how George Bush's economic policies are out to destroy the world. I can hardly wait for his upcoming book.

MANKIW VERY MUCH   Our friend Bruce Bartlett on the "TrendMacro Talking Points" blog points out a terrific speech by Council of Economic Advisors head Greg Mankiw, arguing for repeal of the estate tax. This has never been a hot-button pro-growth issue for me, and it's something that's very easily demagogued by the left as being "just for the rich." But after reading Mankiw's speech, I "get it." This tax has gotta go.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:59 PM | link  


Friday, November 07, 2003

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KAUS'S KRUGMAN KONTEST   
A big bravo to Mickey Kaus at Slate for running a Krugman Gotcha Contest. Now that the economy is clearly recovering, he says find your candidate for the most embarrassing gloom-and-doom statement by Paul Krugman and send it to him at Mickey_Kaus@msn.com. Mickey's not so sure that the Maximum Leader of the Krugman Truth Squad (that would be me) is going to win. In his first version of his posting, he said I was "blindered" by "supply-side thinking" -- but then, perhaps pondering further the general category of embarrassing statements, it occurred to him that "supply-side thinking" is exactly what has triggered the current recovery -- so that won't do. Now, not so mysteriously, his posting has been amended to say that I'm "blindered" by "right wing economic thinking." What will it be tomorrow, now with jobs growth recovery dominating the news -- "evangelical economic thinking?"

Anyway, it's still fun to see Kaus getting back in the Krugman game. I'm still working on my entry to his contest. But in the meantime, I have something even better. In the course of my "stalking" Paul Krugman "personally," I have managed to recover the very last photo ever taken by Krugman's now-destroyed digital camera.


Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:20 AM | link  

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KRUGMAN CRACKS THE RACIST CODE   
Paul Krugman tells us what they all really mean. In his Tuesday New York Times column, he shamelessly repeats a misquotation of Republican congressman James Nethercutt to make him seem callous about US soldiers dying in Iraq -- after Nethercutt has mounted a high-profile public battle to correct the record about his clumsy but clearly well-intentioned statement. Now in his Times column today, Krugman opens by defending Howard Dean -- a Democrat -- against criticisms of his equally clumsy remark about the Confederate flag:

"Howard Dean's remarks about the need to appeal to white Southerners could certainly have been better phrased. But his rivals for the Democratic nomination should be ashamed of their reaction. They know what he was trying to say..."

Then, without quoting anyone at all, Krugman asserts: "...the reliance of modern Republican political strategy on coded appeals to racism is no secret." What, I wonder, is the racist message in the Republican code of appointing African-Americans to the positions of secretary of state and national security advisor? Is hiring them a devious reverse-cipher for "blacks should not be hired"? Is trusting them with the gravest responsibilities in government a public-key encryption of the message that "blacks are shiftless"? Is flying with them in Air Force One a private semaphore signaling "blacks should sit at the back of the bus"?

Here's the Krugman code. Whatever Republicans say or do is racist, because they are Republicans. Whatever Democrats do or say is anti-racist, because they are Democrats. Got that? Good.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:46 AM | link  


Thursday, November 06, 2003

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ALTERMAN LIES   
Eric Alterman comes to Paul Krugman's defense in the November 17, 2003 issue of The Nation. Which raises the question: with defenders like Eric Alterman, who need stalkers?

The subject of Alterman's defense is Krugman's apologetics for the anti-Semitism of Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad  in his October 21 New York Times column. Speaking of the firestorm of criticisms engendered by this column, Alterman writes,

"The nuttiest of these came from Donald Luskin of National Review, a publication with proud ties to Joe McCarthy, who went so far as to accuse Krugman of endorsing 'anti-Semitism and tyranny.' The charge was also picked up by the Anti-Defamation League, writers in Jewsweek, Newsday and a series of bloggers who fashion themselves a 'Krugman Truth Squad.'

"None of the attacks can find anything objectionable in Krugman's writings about Jews or anti-Semitism."

This last sentence is, to put it plainly, a flat-out lie. Is Alterman just hoping that no one will catch him out by reading my "nutty" National Review Online column of October 22? That column consists almost entirely of finding objectionable things in Krugman's writings about Jews or anti-Semitism. I defy Alterman to justify his lie in light of passages like these:

"In a November 8, 1998, article for — yes — The New York Times Magazine, Krugman dealt with, among other things, the impact of currency speculators in precipitating economic crises of the type that rocked Malaysia between 1997 and 1998. Once again he wrote of Mahathir's anti-Semitism — but in 1998 he didn't refer to it as 'inexcusable.' He agreed with it:

"'When the occasional accusation of financial conspiracy is heard — when, for example, Malaysia's Prime Minster blames his country's problems on the machinations of Jewish speculators — the reaction of most observers is skepticism, even ridicule.

"'But even the paranoid have people out to get them. Little by little, over the past few years, the figure of the evil speculator has reemerged.'

"And who's the example of the 'evil speculator' given in the very next sentence? George Soros — a Jew."

And how about the parts where I reveal how Krugman appeared in public with Mahathir to celebrate the success of what was then called the "Krugman-Mahathir strategy" of capital controls? I wrote that Krugman

"...publicly met with Mahathir in Malaysia a year later, and lent his prestige as a prominent international economist to support a leader whom he knew to be anti-Semitic.

"'I agreed to spend a day — including a 90-minute "dialogue" with the prime minister — at the Palace of the Golden Horses, a vaguely Las Vegas-style resort outside Kuala Lumpur. ... In our staged "dialogue" — which was played out in semi-public, in front of a disturbingly obsequious audience of a hundred or so businessmen — Mahathir continued to sound a minor-key version of the conspiracy theme, insisting that capital controls were necessary to protect small countries against the evil designs of big speculators.'"

But the best part of Alterman's column is the socko finish, where he comes up with yet another "Bush lied" story. And whose version of events does he uncritically accept as the benchmark of truth against which to determine that "Bush lied"? None other than the anti-Semite himself. Alterman writes,

"By the way, Mahathir says George Bush was lying (again) when he claimed to have privately upbraided the PM. 'All he said was that I regret today to have to use strong words against you,' said Bush's anti-Semitic buddy. 'He did not rebuke me at all and after that, we were walking practically hand in hand.' The image of the President holding hands with Mahathir has yet to inspire much outrage among those currently crowing for Krugman's head. Say one thing for America's right-wing hypocrites: They know how to stick with their own."

Did it ever occur to Alterman that the reason "The image of the President holding hands with Mahathir has yet to inspire much outrage" is because nobody but Alterman believes it? And let's even say it's true: wasn't the whole point of Krugman's column that Bush out to be reaching out to improve relationships with the Islamic world, anti-Semitism or no anti-Semitism? As always with these Bush-haters, it's damned if you don't and damned if you do.

And one more thing. For some reason Alterman forgot to mention in The Nation that regrettable little something that he himself wrote on his blog shortly after my "nutty" column came out. He wrote, "One problem with anti-Semitism - the genuine problem - is anti-Semitism is the easy, anti-intellectual smear." Gas chambers? Terrorism? Pogroms? Discrimination? Nah -- none of those are "the genuine problem." For a guy like Alterman, the only reality is his unprincipled world of political gamesmanship. And if charges of anti-Semitism get in the way of the way his side is playing the game at the moment, then for him, that's "the genuine problem."

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 4:14 AM | link  


Wednesday, November 05, 2003

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BREAKING "STEIN'S LAW"   
George Nethercutt wasn't the only victim of Paul Krugman's habitual misquotations in his New York Times column yesterday. The other one is subtler, but it has more far-reaching implications for economic policy debates. Krugman began his column,

"Academic economists often cite Stein's Law, a principle enunciated by the late Herbert Stein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Nixon administration. The law comes with various wordings; my favorite is: 'Things that can't go on forever, don't.' Believe it or not, that's a useful reminder.

"For we're now led by men who think that macho posturing makes Stein's Law go away. On issues ranging from budgets to foreign policy, they insist that we can sustain the unsustainable. ...The prime example I have hammered on in this column is, of course, the federal budget. Realistic budget projections say that current policies aren't remotely sustainable."

As to those "various wordings," let's see what Herbert Stein himself says. I was surprised to see that Stein wrote about it in 1997 in Slate, at the same time as Krugman himself was writing a column for the same online magazine. Stein wrote,

"If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. -- Stein's Law, first pronounced in the 1980s.

"This proposition, arising first in a discussion of the balance-of-payments deficit, is a response to those who think that if something cannot go on forever, steps must be taken to stop it -- even to stop it at once."

In other words, Stein is cautioning against the fallacy that just because something is not permanently sustainable it is necessarily bad. There are many things that people and governments do that are perfectly reasonable for short periods of time -- but are not sustainable (and which nobody actually intends to sustain). When a runner sprints, he is doing something unsustainable; should a runner never sprint? When the US fought in World War II, we could not have done so forever; should we not have done it at all?

And so it is with deficits. No one in the Bush administration has argued that permanently sustaining large deficits is a good idea. So saying that deficits are unsustainable is to argue against a position that no one has ever taken. And Krugman uses Stein's Law to do it -- even though Stein invented his "law" precisely to argue against precisely that.

>> EXTRA:  Robert Musil on his Man Without Qualities blog yesterday related Krugman's particular use of Stein's Law to that famous saying of Krugman's economics guru John Maynard Keynes: "In the long run, we'll all be dead."

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:27 AM | link  

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WHICH, WHICH HEAVEN FORBID, IS AWFUL   
Those of us who hoped that the New York Times would become a more balanced and accountable newspaper after the departure of disgraced executive editor Howell Raines have so far been bitterly disappointed. Yes, there is a bit more balance on the op-ed page now thanks to the arrival of conservative David Brooks. But so far -- as readers of this blog know all too well -- there has not been the slightest progress toward accountability.

Paul Krugman, America's most dangerous liberal pundit, continues to publish columns brimming with lies, errors, distortions, misquotations and invented quotations -- all without any pre-publication fact-checking or subsequent corrections by his editors at the Times. It's true: New York Times Company VP of Corporate Communications Catherine Mathis confirmed to me that op-ed columns are not fact-checked, and that corrections are at the discretion of the author.

Now, suddenly, there is hope that this policy of deliberate unaccountability could be changed. More on that in a moment -- but first, a case in point.

A shameful misquotation in Krugman's column yesterday shows the kind of evil mischief that can happen when a columnist is virtually unsupervised. And if the past is any guide, there will be no correction of the misquotation. There have been only three Krugman corrections in as many years (here, here and here). Why? Because Krugman is in charge of his corrections. So, Mr. Fox: how's the view from inside that hen-house?

Two prominent Krugman-watchers were all over this one yesterday -- Tom Maguire on his Just One Minute blog, and David Hogberg on his Cornfield Commentary blog. Here's the deal:

On October 14, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported remarks of Representative George Nethercutt (R-Washington) that made it appear that he was trivializing the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq:

"Rep. George Nethercutt said yesterday that Iraq's reconstruction is going better than is portrayed by the news media, citing his recent four-day trip to the country.

"'The story of what we've done in the postwar period is remarkable,' Nethercutt, R-Wash., told an audience of 65 at a noon meeting at the University of Washington's Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs.

"'It is a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day.'

"He added that he did not want any more soldiers to be killed."

Two days later, Maureen Dowd repeated the quote verbatim in a New York Times op-ed. In her typically chirpy style, she said that Nethercutt had "chimed in to help the White House" and joked that "The congressman puts the casual back in casualty."

Shortly afterward, Nethercutt protested aggressively that he had been misquoted, claiming in paid advertisements in the Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times that the misquotation amounted to "the equivalent of a negative political commercial against me." Based on an audio file of Nethercutt's remarks available on the Post-Intelligencer's website, here's what he actually said:

"So the story is better than we might be led to believe in the news. I'm just indicting the news people. But it's, it's, it's a bigger and better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day, which, which heaven forbid, is awful."

The Post-Intelligencer's elimination of Nethercutt's characterization of the story as "bigger" -- without so much as an ellipsis to indicate the edit -- substantially changes the tone of the quotation. And cutting Nethercutt's concluding phrase "which, which heaven forbid, is awful" and substituting for it the paraphrased "He added that he did not want any more soldiers to be killed" transforms the statement from heartfelt to callous. On October 28, the Post-Intelligencer ran a story revealing the entire quotation, and posting the audio file.

Now -- fast forward to Krugman's column yesterday:

"Some Americans may share the views of the Republican congressman who said that progress in Iraq was 'a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day.' (Support the troops!)"

We can't blame Dowd -- she wrote her op-ed twelve days before the Post-Intelligencer ran the entire correct quotation. But Krugman's another matter: his column ran seven days after. Maguire asks the right question about Krugman: "Lazy, or dishonest? And does he need an editor, or a polygraph?"

Both. Krugman's done this before. Loyal  readers will remember that the very same thing happened just a couple months ago. Recall Krugman's June 6 column, in which he picked up a seemingly damning quote by Grover Norquist from another newspaper. But well before Krugman's version of it appeared in the Times, it had already been corrected in the Washington Post

Of course the Norquist misquotation was never corrected in the Times, and the Nethercutt misquotation probably won't be either. But maybe that's all about to change.

According to Robert Cox at The National Debate, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is supporting review of the policy of permitting columnists to manage their own corrections. It's the result of the well-known Maureen Dowd ellipsis-gate scandal -- which Cox first broke -- in which Dowd substantially altered the meaning of a quotation from President Bush, and then stealth-corrected it weeks later by including the correct quotation, unremarked, in the body of a future column.

Cox  is reporting that Mobile Register editor Mike Marshall -- whose newspaper picks up Times columns in syndication, has been pressing Sulzberger on the issue. Cox refers to a letter from Sulzberger to Marshall:

"...he described the Sulzberger letter as defending the paper's reaction to the Dowd controversy because 'the NY Times has a policy of leaving corrections up to their columnists' but opening the door for the first time to addressing Maureen Dowd's well-documented accuracy issues. ...Sulzberger went on to add that 'this policy will be reviewed by their soon-to-be hired public editor' and that the 'editor will be asked: Does it make sense that columnists are held to a different standard than reporters?'"

The "public editor" he's talking about is Daniel Okrent, hired to act as the first-ever ombudsman at the Times in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal. Okrent will start work on December 1, and some Times-watchers think he may just be willing and able to shake things up a bit on West 43rd Street.  If Okrent manages to change the Times' policy on op-ed corrections, it would put an important new discipline on Krugman, Dowd, and the other make-it-up-as-you-go-along liberals on the op-ed page.

And it could start to undo an important element of the corruption set in motion by Howell Raines. Just as Raines tainted the news pages of the Times with opinion masquerading as fact, he transformed the op-ed page into a place where facts -- and often false ones -- masquerade as opinions. Because what is asserted on the op-ed page as fact by the likes of Krugman can always be rationalized as "just opinion," it's not subject to rigorous editorial review nor an objective correction process.

But now Okrent could potentially change all that. And what would Paul Krugman think? I suspect he'd find that level of accountability to be something "which, which heaven forbid, is awful."

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 3:52 AM | link  


Tuesday, November 04, 2003

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COVERT OPERATIVE OUTED AT NY TIMES   
Glenn Halpern at the HipperCritical blog sends us word of an astonishing ethical lapse in the New York Times' ongoing campaign to throw sand in the gears of US efforts in Iraq. An op-ed today by Mark Medish argues that Iraq must honor all its debt to external creditors -- which would add considerably to the cost of post-war reconstruction. The Times identifies Medish as "a lawyer, was deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury from 1997 to 2000." Halpern points out that Medish wrote a similar op-ed for the Washington Post on October 19. The Post had the integrity to identify Medish fully as "a lawyer in Washington and...a senior Treasury and National Security Council official in the Clinton administration. He represents international corporate creditors of Iraq." In other words, he's just a lobbyist. But that was news that wasn't fit to print.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:13 PM | link  

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A JOINT STATEMENT FROM DONALD LUSKIN AND ATRIOS   
We both regret a series of misunderstandings that have resulted in something that neither of us intended. We have discussed our differences, and both of us are confident that such misunderstandings will not occur again in the future. As a result, Mr. Luskin is retracting his demand letter of October 29, 2003. We congratulate each other on having quickly achieved an amicable resolution. We are both glad to have put this behind us.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:00 PM | link  

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ANOTHER BREACH OF BASIC ETHICS   
I'll have a more detailed treatment of Paul Krugman's column in today's New York Times later. But for the moment, let me point you to an inconceivably egregious breach of basic journalistic ethics made by Krugman today. David Hogberg is all over this one on his Cornfield Commentary blog, so I'll simply quote from David's able work:

"At issue today is a remark made a few weeks ago by Representative George Nethercutt:

"'So the story is better than we might be led to believe in the news. I'm just indicting the news people, but it's, it's a bigger and better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day which, which heaven forbid is awful."

"At the time, the remarks were quoted in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; however, the context was pared down so that the quote read 'it's a bigger and better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day.' Since early last week, the press has run stories in which Nethercutt has blasted the Seattle P-I for taking him out of context.

"So, in today’s column, how does Krugman portray Nethercutt’s remarks? Take a guess:

"'Some Americans may share the views of the Republican congressman who said that progress in Iraq was 'a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day.' (Support the troops!)"

I will add that this is precisely the same thing that Krugman did in his June 6 column with a quote from Grover Norquist -- before Krugman's version of it appeared, it had already been corrected in the Washington Post (here are the details on that one).  Of course it was never corrected in the Times, and this one probably won't be either.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:00 PM | link  


Monday, November 03, 2003

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TIMES OP-ED CORRECTIONS POLICY TO BE REVIEWED?   
Robert Cox at The National Debate -- the guy who broke the Maureen Dowd ellipsis-gate story -- is reporting that New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is supporting review of the Times' policy of permitting columnists to manage their own corrections. Cox refers to a letter from Sulzberger to Mobile Register editor Mike Marshall:
"...he described the Sulzberger letter as defending the paper's reaction to the Dowd controversy because 'the NY Times has a policy of leaving corrections up to their columnists' but opening the door for the first time to addressing Maureen Dowd's well-documented accuracy issues. ...Sulzberger went on to add that 'this policy will be reviewed by their soon-to-be hired public editor' and that the 'editor will be asked: Does it make sense that columnists are held to a different standard than reporters?'"
Readers know our answer to that question. If they don't, click here and here.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:54 PM | link  


Sunday, November 02, 2003

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KRUGMANFREUDE   
Schadenfreude -- that's that word for taking pleasure in the other guy's failure. But what's the word for that feeling you get when you've been hoping for the other guy to fail, but he ends up succeeding -- spectacularly? Would you call that a schadenfreudian slip? No, then how about calling it Krugmanfreude?

That's the suggestion of reader John Davidson. It's the perfect word for what America's most dangerous liberal pundit, Paul Krugman -- and the whole Democratic party, for that matter -- must be feeling right now as they face the reality of Thursday's announcement that gross domestic product grew at a stunning 7.2% annual rate in the third quarter. That's the fastest rate in almost 20 years -- since the last time a tax-cutting Republican was in the White House.

Remember, over and over, Krugman has used every possible form of hyperbole to damn President Bush's economic policies: "train wreck," "banana republic irresponsibility," "obviously...heading us in the direction of fiscal catastrophe," and so on. So this great economic news really is a world of Krugmanfreude, and Krugman isn't taking it at all well. Consider this horrifying news story quoted by Robert Musil on his Man Without Qualities blog (and be sure to click on the "KCI" link):

"PRINCETON, Oct 30 (Rooters) Third quarter GDP and KCI rose strongly, triggering a vigorous investigation by the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance of a newly appearing hole in the roof of Princeton University professor of economics, Paul Krugman.

"'There was a terrifying sound of cat shrieking and rending ceiling joists from the house, and what seemed to be a small furry animal hurtled skyward from the debris,' said a Krugman neighbor who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The carcass of the animal was later confirmed by Princeton police to be that of 'Mr. GDP,' the domestic cat kept for research and emotive purposes by Herr Doktorprofessor Krugman."

Still, Krugman managed to churn out his regular New York Times column Friday, and he did the best he could with it. As reader Lindsay Osbon put it, "The hard part about eating crow is making it look like it tastes good." Here's Krugman smiling while he chews:

"...it's possible that we really have reached a turning point. If so, does it validate the Bush economic program? Well, no. Stimulating the economy in the short run is supposed to be easy, as long as you don't worry about how much debt you run up in the process." 

NRO contributor Jerry Bowyer (author of the new book The Bush Boom), told me by email, "My favorite part is when he said that it’s easy to get a short term stimulus. This from the crowd that said the Bush stimulus plan had no short term stimulus effect." And Matthew Hoy, on his blog HoyStory.com, nails Krugman's attempt to snatch defeat for President Bush from the jaws of prosperity:

"Bush can do nothing right when it comes to the economy -- nothing. If the economy remains in the doldrums, then it's because of Bush's tax cut... If the economy improves, then it only does so in spite of Bush's tax cut and other economic policies -- and even then it doesn't matter because the government's running a deficit...there's no way you can win."

Krugman wraps it up his column with the best shot he can take at Bush at this point:

"...it would be quite a trick to run the biggest budget deficit in the history of the planet, and still end a presidential term with fewer jobs than when you started. And despite yesterday's good news, that's a trick President Bush still seems likely to pull off."

Not bad, under the circumstances. I'm sure will hear all of that repeated endlessly in the media echo chamber by Democratic politicos and apparatchiks. But there's not a single idea in it those 47 words that isn't based on economic trickery. Let's take it apart, concept by concept.

First, are we running "the biggest budget deficit in the history of the planet"? Tom Maguire has the answer for that in a post on his Just One Minute blog. Maguire says,

"Imagine, if you will, that George Bush had announced yesterday that, under his stewardship, the US economy had grown more than in any previous quarter in history... in nominal, no adjustment for inflation or anything else terms, this is our biggest quarterly increase ever. And no one cares. Because the correct growth measure is as a percent of GDP. And if Bush said otherwise, we would all agree he was being duplicitous, or stupid. Or maybe we wouldn't. ...when Prof. Krugman describes the 'biggest budget deficit in the history of the planet' he can only be speaking in nominal terms."

Indeed. As a percentage of GDP, even using the worst-case "on-budget" budget deficit to make things look as bad as possible, the Office of Management and Budget's 2004 estimate at 4.3% is smaller than in 16 other years (and not much larger than it was in the comparable year of Bill Clinton's first term in office). If we use the "total" budget deficit, then even in dollar terms -- when adjusted for inflation -- there have been larger deficits in 7 of the last 20 years. And the planet endures.

Let's move on, and talk about whether Bush will "end a presidential term with fewer jobs than when you started." As Musil points out, it's all a matter of which jobs statistics you look at. And naturally, Krugman chooses to look at the worst. Krugman always focuses on the "payroll" survey produced by the Department of Labor, which show 2.6 million jobs lost since Bush took office. But the DOL's alternate jobs statistics -- the "household" survey that is used to compute the unemployment rate -- shows that the economy is only down 273 thousand jobs. That small job deficit can be cured with even the most modest recovery over the next year.

But even if we use the tougher "payroll" statistics that Krugman insists upon (as though they were the only statistics), it turns out that it may be a lot easier than Krugman wants to admit for the economy to add enough jobs for Bush to end his first job with a net jobs gain. On what theoretical or empirical grounds does Princeton economist Krugman say it's "likely" that the economy won't -- and I note that he's pulling back from what he told MSNBC's "Buchanan & Press" last month -- that "it's a near lock now unless there’s a miracle."

The only grounds I can see is Krugman's anti-scientific partisan conviction that everything Bush does is wrong. But if you step away from partisan prejudice and look at the simple facts, and pull the statistics from the DOL's website, you can see for yourself that what Krugman calls a "miracle" is, in fact, quite typical. In fact, in 57% of the 12-month periods starting after 1948, jobs grew at a rate equivalent to the economy adding 2.6 million jobs today.

If it were pure luck, history would suggest that Bush has better than a 50/50 chance over the next 12 months-- and Bush actually has 15 months to pull it off. A "lock"? Pure Krugmanfreude.

What are other more serious and less politicized economists than Krugman saying about the prospects for jobs? What do the world-class econometric models say -- the ones that look at dozens of real-world factors, and are not straightjacketed by Krugman's political orthodoxy?  Steve Antler -- an economics professor at Roosevelt University notes on his EconoPundit blog that the well-respected econometric model of Ray C. Fair, fellow at the International Center for Finance at Yale, is showing that

"1. Job loss actually zeros out this quarter. By New Year's Day, 600,000 new jobs will have been generated by the recovery.

"2. By September of 2004, a total of 3.6 million new jobs will have been generated.

"3. By the election, those willing to round 4.458 up to 5 will be able to claim the policies of the Bush administration have 'generated' 5 million new jobs."

When it happens, Krugman will be in a world of Krugmanfreude beyond anything he can imagine today, even with that cat-shaped hole gaping in his roof. But he'll probably still be calling it a "miracle." After all, that's what people always call things they don't understand.

But at least Krugman will have one consolation. He'll have four more years of his favorite subject matter.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:00 PM | link