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Reich writes: "One of the first acts of the Republican congress will be to fire Doug Elmendorf, current director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, because he won't use 'dynamic scoring' for his economic projections. Dynamic scoring is the magical-mystery math Republicans have been pushing since they came up with supply-side 'trickle-down' economics."

Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)
Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)

The Republican's Magical Mystery Tour (Starting Next Week)

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

29 December 14


ccording to reports, one of the first acts of the Republican congress will be to fire Doug Elmendorf, current director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, because he won’t use “dynamic scoring” for his economic projections.

Dynamic scoring is the magical-mystery math Republicans have been pushing since they came up with supply-side “trickle-down” economics.

It’s based on the belief that cutting taxes unleashes economic growth and thereby produces additional government revenue. Supposedly the added revenue more than makes up for what’s lost when Congress hands out the tax cuts.

Dynamic scoring would make it easier to enact tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, because the tax cuts wouldn’t look as if they increased the budget deficit.

Incoming House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) calls it “reality-based scoring,” but it’s actually magical scoring – which is why Elmendorf, as well as all previous CBO directors have rejected it.

Few economic theories have been as thoroughly tested in the real world as supply-side economics, and so notoriously failed.

Ronald Reagan cut the top income tax rate from 70 percent to 28 percent and ended up nearly doubling the national debt. His first budget director, David Stockman, later confessed he dealt with embarrassing questions about future deficits with “magic asterisks” in the budgets submitted to Congress. The Congressional Budget Office didn’t buy them.

George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus from Bill Clinton but then slashed taxes, mostly on the rich. The CBO found that the Bush tax cuts reduced revenues by $3 trillion.

Yet Republicans don’t want to admit supply-side economics is hokum. As a result, they’ve never had much love for the truth-tellers at the Congressional Budget Office.

In 2011, when briefly leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich called the CBO “a reactionary socialist institution which does not believe in economic growth, does not believe in innovation and does not believe in data that has not been internally generated.”

The CBO has continued to be a truth-telling thorn in the Republican’s side.

The budget plan Paul Ryan came up with in 2012 – likely to be a harbinger of what’s to come from the Republican congress – slashed Medicaid, cut taxes on the rich and on corporations, and replaced Medicare with a less well-funded voucher plan.

Ryan claimed these measures would reduce the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office disagreed.

Ryan persevered. His 2013 and 2014 budget proposals were similarly filled with magic asterisks. The CBO still wasn’t impressed.  

Yet it’s one thing to cling to magical-mystery thinking when you have only one house of Congress. It’s another when you’re running the whole shebang. 

Now that Elmendorf is on the way out, presumably to be replaced by someone willing to tell Ryan and other Republicans what they’d like to hear, the way has been cleared for all the magic they can muster.

In this as in other domains of public policy, Republicans have not shown a particular affinity for facts.

Climate change? It’s not happening, they say. And even if it is happening, humans aren’t responsible. (Almost all scientists studying the issue find it’s occurring and humans are the major cause.)

Widening inequality? Not occurring, they say. Even though the data show otherwise, they claim the measurements are wrong.

Voting fraud? Happening all over the country, they say, which is why voter IDs and other limits on voting are necessary. Even though there’s no evidence to back up their claim (the best evidence shows no more than 31 credible incidents of fraud out of a billion ballots cast), they continue to assert it.  

Evolution? Just a theory, they say. Even though all reputable scientists support it, many Republicans at the state level say it shouldn’t be taught without also presenting the view found in the Bible.

Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? America’s use of torture? The George W. Bush administration and its allies in Congress weren’t overly interested in the facts.

The pattern seems to be: if you don’t like the facts, make them up.

Or have your benefactors finance “think tanks” filled with hired guns who will tell the public what you and your patrons want them to say.

If all else fails, fire your own experts who tell the truth, and replace them with people who will pronounce falsehoods.

There’s one big problem with this strategy, though. Legislation based on lies often causes the public to be harmed.

Not even “truthiness,” as Stephen Colbert once called it, is an adequate substitute for the whole truth. your social media marketing partner


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+74 # WestWinds 2014-12-29 15:33
I completely dread the next two years knowing that the Republicans are going to make the biggest mess this country has ever known. But, hey, the American people have done this by not doing the correct things and getting out and voting this crowd out of office.

It would have been better to put the Green Party into office for one term, if for no other reason than to break up and down this duopoly they've got going here.

But from what I've seen, the American people are ignorant and proud of it, so what do they expect, that it will all turn out for the best for them? How deaf, dumb, blind and stupid can they be?

We need to move the Mid-term elections back under the presidential cycle, and have a long week-end (Fri/Sat/Sun) for voting so no one can say they "had to work" and couldn't get to the polls. We need to stop this "opposite party" flip-flopping, referendum voting pattern we've fallen into for the Mid-terms. This should be a primary goal.

The only good news out of this MAY be that after the next two years are over, the public will finally see what these Republicans are really up to and kick them to the curb. But it's going to be a very nasty ride and I'm not looking forward to it AT ALL.

As for "facts", even Boehner said, "We Republicans don't allow facts to get in our way."
-24 # jcdav 2014-12-29 17:03
The American public is not ignorant as much as being willfully misinformed by the alledged "liberal" media--look at who owns the media....there is a shitstorm a commin'
+20 # Working Class 2014-12-29 20:26
Quoting jcdav:
The American public is not ignorant as much as being willfully misinformed by the alledged "liberal" media--look at who owns the media....there is a shitstorm a commin'

I am not sure why the negative marks here. In reading jcdav correctly by putting "liberal" in quotes and pointing out that the media is corporate he is implying we are in for trouble with the R's in power. Are you who give him negative marks implying he is wrong?
-15 # brux 2014-12-30 06:23
I'd imagine that the genius subscribers to RSN looked at the phrase "Liberal Media" and their thumbs down reflex engaged ... that is about as much though as they seem to give to ideas here ... since they basically cannot think to analyze things, they just look for the phrases and knee-jerk.
+4 # lilluc2 2015-01-01 07:49
Quoting Working Class:
[quote name="jcdav"]The American public is not ignorant as much as being willfully misinformed by the alledged "liberal" media--look at who owns the media....there is a shitstorm a commin'

Yes, I agree that the American public is being willfully misinformed, also lied to, and manipulated with fear.
Yet at some point each individual has to take responsibility for preferring to remain ignorant rather than having to face the truth.
That kind of ignorant mentality, especially when the facts are there, is a dangerous thing.
I think of Hitler and how easily he persuaded the masses to join his sick and twisted ideals.
So, in my book, in the face of real injustice
by the Republicans, big Corporations, the radical far right wingers, the Christian right wing zealots...I hold all of us responsible for not rising up and crying out "Injustice!"
How much do people have to lose before they become willing to listen?
+4 # Regina 2014-12-31 11:42
The U.S. is woefully inadequate in education, particularly in science, math, critical thinking, history, and economics. That's why they fixate on Fox and reject other media. That's why the shenanigan-swif ty Republicans and their "Tea Party" accomplices get support at the polls -- the party line sounds so easy, who needs all those other facts?
+36 # Regina 2014-12-29 17:09
Hey -- it'll be Full Speed Behind -- to the glorious year of 1929.
+14 # RLF 2014-12-30 06:35
I think a full melt down may be the only thing that will wake up the American populace. It seems like much of economics is based on "magical thinking". Assumptions are part of every theory.

I can't figure out why the Republicans have not been branded "Cut and deficit" Republicans by the Democrats by now. Every single republican president has left a huge deficit but the Dems. refuse to slap them in the face with it.
-14 # munza1 2014-12-29 19:53
What if it doesn't make much difference who is in power. There are economic cycles and maybe things will 'go well' as it does seem the economy has picked up and the Republicans will claim credit.
+12 # kalpal 2014-12-30 05:51
Effectively speaking who is in power is not determined by the voters but by the wealthy people who present the 2 candidates most acceptable to themselves. As an oligarchy our government's makeup is determined by those who mount the resources to state who will be a viable candidate. It will never be anyone who might hobble the rich and aid the working and middle class.
+2 # brux 2014-12-30 06:30
Yeah, that's about right, whatever furthers money and military power will always get support, and that is the pattern and policy that has put us on top since WWII.

But further, to think this is what we need to attack or change without very careful thought, is really messing with the basic existence of the USA.

My last article ties these ideas together to explain where the Left should really concentrate and prioritize, because trying to change something that is so strong, with such a ingrained history is not possible anyway.

The single best thing that could happen with the Left would be to straighten out the tax system so it would:

1) Be progressive with high rates at the top end.
2) Treat working/earned income and investment income the same, with the confines of #1, a progressive tax system.

That is not exciting, and it requires a little math knowledge to understand, so until the average American can understand a little higher math, they will not see the important of these ideas, and not prioritize them.
-11 # RLF 2014-12-30 06:37
Like Bill Clinton always takes credit for what turned into a bubble economy and collapsed?
0 # brux 2015-01-01 20:48
Reagan took credit for it too ... they all do.
+57 # Tazio 2014-12-29 15:40
The last Republican to tell the truth about this Trickle Down B.S. was George H.W. Bush when he was campaigning against Saint Reagan in 1980.

Bush called it Voodoo Economics to think that Reagonomics could even possibly work.
So the Republicans put Bush on the ticket as V.P. and he never mentioned it again.

But, Bush The Elder was right, and rather than balance the budget, as Reagan promised to do, he almost tripled the National Debt and we've been paying interest on Reagan's spending for 30 years now.
+2 # Jim Young 2014-12-30 17:45
As I recall, GHW Bush's new administration gave almost all of the former Reagan admin people a really cold shoulder as they hustled them out as fast as they could, seeking none of the advice usually solicited (if only as a show of courtesy).
+39 # banichi 2014-12-29 15:41
As a senior who depends on Medicare for my health maintenance, I find Ryan an abominable liar interested only in his ideological fantasies. I just hope to hell that sufficient Republicans in the House and Senate will listen to reality rather than their ideological premises that have been disproven - how many times?

I am very afraid that the combination of Republican stubbornness to continue to try to prove their premises right in the face of the scientific proofs that they are mistaken will cause all of us ordinary citizens a great deal more pain, loss, and even deaths before they are forced to admit their mistakes.

Not holding my breath. They only answer to the wealthiest and blame the rest of us for not believing in their crap. So it is time to begin putting the pressure of voters on them in large numbers to force a recognition of who they should be responsible to - according to their oaths of office, since moral, ethical, and legal constraints mean nothing to them.
+17 # jcdav 2014-12-29 17:07
i fear little short of torches and pitchforks & guilloteens will even get the attention, let along cause a change of heart/course of the greedheads.
-5 # brux 2014-12-30 06:16
>> torches and pitchforks & guilloteens

Probably true if that is all you can come up with to influence them to respect your political views.
+14 # lorenbliss 2014-12-29 15:43
Everything Mr. Reich says here is true.

That's why -- for those of us who are elderly and/or disabled and thus dependent on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps for survival -- 2015 will be a year of horror, of death by abandonment and neglect. So will 2016 and every year thereafter, as our capitalist overlords impose "austerity" to exterminate all of us who are no longer exploitable for profit.

Too bad Mr. Reich has yet to awaken to the fact these murderous policies fulfill the mandate given President Obama by his Wall Street masters.

Barack the Betrayer, the closet Nazis of the Democratic Party, the overt Nazis of the Republican Party -- they all represent the same greedy, sadistic, inconceivably tyrannical Ruling Class.

Nazis? Absolutely: murder is murder whether inflicted in (now unfashionable) death camps or by genocide euphemistically described as "austerity."

The ultimate irony is the president facilitating the reduction of the United States to a high-tech version of an antebellum slave-plantatio n is of the race that was most often enslaved -- which elevates the magnitude of his betrayal to that of the biblical Judas.

And now during the next two years -- and no doubt for innumerable years thereafter -- we are going to be lethally schooled in the nightmarish extent to which the sons and grandsons of the Bankers Plot conspirators of 1934 have finally turned their USian Nazi Empire fantasy into global reality.
+3 # AndreM5 2014-12-30 12:43
Sorry, you lose the argument by virtue of the fact you were the first to invoke the "Nazi" screed.
+37 # Jayceecool 2014-12-29 16:19
Unfortunately, democracy in our modern era requires a citizenry that stays involved and informed, a standard that Americans cannot meet. When (not "if") this corrupt political system collapses, historians will note that American democracy was as unsustainable as Soviet communism.
+15 # lorenbliss 2014-12-29 16:39
Excellent analogy, particularly in that it was the constant deluge of capitalist propaganda -- 24/7 conditioning in the Ayn Rand credo of infinite greed as ultimate virtue (which mandates the rejection of all humanitarian principles and therefore the conscious embrace of moral imbecility) -- that subverted Communism.

Ironic too that Christian civilization, with its sado-masochisti c obsession with sin and eternal damnation, would give rise to greed of that magnitude: our species' one truly irresistible, irremediably deadly, ultimately suicidal Evil, the true cause of our impending extinction.
-7 # brux 2014-12-30 06:32
>> Ironic too that Christian civilization, with its sado-masochisti c obsession with sin and eternal damnation, would give rise to greed of that magnitude

LOL, yes, let's blame it on Christian greed, ho-hum.

Christianity had nothing to do with this. This came out of the secular world, which possible might have had some streak of Calvinism and work ethic twisted and distorted to get to this rationalization of our current system, but that could be just atheist or plain old stupidity
0 # jimbeama 2014-12-30 17:25
Brux you are obviously a smart and critical thinker. However you find fault with nearly everything. You make sense in your analysis but pick nits instead of responding to the intent of the commentator and their comment.

In the above comment you contradict yourself when you acknowledge Calvinism is twisted in there. It is precisely that which people now call "Christianity". The Bible thumping, every word and punctuation is what gawd wrote, born again variety. (yes I should have used hyphens between the words. I trust it can still be understood)

You do make some thought provoking comments which I feel the conversation we all engage in here is all about. But man do you have to be so harsh?
-1 # brux 2015-01-01 14:42
I say what I say because I've been reading this stuff since you were probably in diapers and I know a lot more and have a lot more perspective on it that most here on RSN.

Calvinism was about the "work ethic", which you might think is still with it, but in a Christian interpretion it has been distorted passed recognition.

Get what you get if anything from my comments, but don't make personal comments about how I have to be or choose to be ... that is your own baggage that you have to deal with, it is not up for discussion, as if I am going to be different or take criticism from someone who knows me from a comment on the Internet.

It sounds like what I say makes you see and feel how hopeless things are, and you don't like it ... so you blame me for showing you what you do not really want to see. Obama got elected by offering people hope, i.e. smoke, vapor. Now, almost 8 years later he has not really done anything for those people. He allowed some of them to get insurance, but at a guaranteed price paid to the Health Insurance companies. There is no change there.

If you think I am "picking nits" again, you are both wrong and unwilling to consider some facts that you would rather not hear. The point of my last post was to say the our problems are not caused by Christians. Is that nit? I find fault where fault lies, and yes, I am very critical --- "expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music, or art"
+10 # RLF 2014-12-30 06:43
Funny how "Christian Civilization" never has acted in a Christian manner! And we criticize the Muslim extremists for their heresy! Maybe we should recognise that those that hunt for power are always immoral.
+15 # Vardoz 2014-12-29 18:22
I would not be surprised if they create
another Great Depression. What did the American people expect? This gang will do a lot to hurt the majority as if it hasn't been bad enough.
+6 # motamanx 2014-12-29 22:30
A depression won't bother the 1%. Quite the opposite. It's the rest of us who will take the hit.
+2 # RLF 2014-12-30 06:45
Duh! We are just going through one but the bailouts of Wall St. have made it painless for the rich. It apparently has to be severe enough that sufficient people lose access to their video games to change minds!
+1 # brux 2014-12-30 06:20
Yes, that is exactly why we do not have democracy, or even much of a republic any longer.

The problem is the US today is that we let the most sleazy anti-social jerks become our plutocrats. That is really all. Since we cannot manage to sustain democracy, what we at least could do is to make sure that we have a relatively working "meritocracy", but we have allowed the children of the super rich and financial and corporate criminals who don't get caught ( i.e. most of them) to run the country for their own personal gain.

What do we expect? I wonder why doesn't Reich ever really point this out?
-48 # brycenuc 2014-12-29 17:02
Reich, as usual, gets his facts right. He is also probably right to say that "Almost all scientists studying the issue find it’s occurring and humans are the major cause." But he really needs to say that "All scientists who come to that conclusion are wrong."
+10 # ericlipps 2014-12-29 20:14
Why should he say that? What's your basis for saying, first, that almost all scientists studying the issue find climate change is happening and is caused by humans, and second, that nevertheless, they're all wrong?

Are you perhaps imagining some sort of "scientists' conspiracy" a la "V: The Miniseries"? If so, remember that THAT conspiracy turned out to be a fake engineered by enemies of humanity to discredit the people who could expose them.
+9 # Ray Kondrasuk 2014-12-29 21:03
Hi again, brycenuc. Chatted with you on the other string. And now...

"...The record for the warmest monthly global sea surface temperature (SST) has been broken three times this year and the five warmest months of sea surface temperature ever recorded have all taken place in 2014..."

This, bryce, as CO2 levels are at highs traceable to fossil fuel burning (that would be us) evidenced by the relative concentration of C-12 (ancient carbon) rather than C-13 (volcanic release) or C-14 (decay/oxidatio n of recent carbon)
+9 # Ray Kondrasuk 2014-12-29 21:09
bryce, here... from SkepticalScience:

"...While fossil-fuel derived CO2 is a very small component of the global carbon cycle, the extra CO2 is cumulative because the natural carbon exchange cannot absorb all the additional CO2..."

The level of atmospheric CO2 is building up, the additional CO2 is being produced by burning fossil fuels, and that build up is accelerating.
0 # Ray Kondrasuk 2014-12-31 10:38
This just in, bryce:

"...2014 will go down as the warmest year, around the globe, in recorded history..."
+1 # jimbeama 2014-12-30 17:29
It's so easy to be a troll
+12 # Gnome de Pluehm 2014-12-29 17:31

What are your credentials? How do you know they are wrong?
+6 # RLF 2014-12-30 06:47
It is because he heard it on Faux!
+10 # reiverpacific 2014-12-29 19:56
"In this as in other domains of public policy, Republicans have not shown a particular affinity for facts." (Quote from article).
This sounds exactly like the agenda of the TeaThuglican's owner-media mouthpiece, Ruppie Muck-doc's "FIXED" News, the "most trusted" source of what passes for political discourse to the dim-bulb, sleepwalking "average" American.
The next two years could be the death-knell of the badly-worn, disproven, moth-eaten Republican message but they can do a Helluva lot o' damage like a badly-guided wrecking ball, in the time they have at the helm -but Obama is showing some signs of backbone and stomach for this fight.
Gawd Help America!
+13 # stevekirn 2014-12-29 20:13
Does "dynamic scoring" only include potential -- if disproven -- ideological wish lists? If so, then we should add the dynamics associated with delayed infrastructure investment (especially at a time of low-to-zero financing cost, the impact of denial of healthcare to poor people, extended costs of pollution, etc. You can't have it all on one side of the ledger. Or maybe you can, if you say it LOUD and often enough.
+3 # kalpal 2014-12-30 05:55
The oligarchy which presents the nation's voters with the candidates it deems acceptable will distort reality in any fashion it chooses in order to protect itself. The working and middle classes will be forced to resume being serfs ere too long.
-3 # brux 2014-12-30 06:14
"resume being serfs" ??

Most of the Middle Class and working America is exactly that, and mostly always has been. Why do people who cannot even be troubled to stay informed and vote deserve political rights they will not bother to protect? They may in theory deserve the rights of our Constitution, but one thing the Constitution forgot to mention is that if you do not fight for and protect your rights you will soon lose them.
-3 # brux 2014-12-30 06:12
Why doesn't Reich just come out and explain why these policies recommending by Republicans are causing creeping fascism by putting more and more of our economy at the service to fewer and fewer people, and only people with vast wealth and power?

Reich never really speaks in those terms, and yet that is what is happening? How long is he going to continue to ignore the dangers to our country that these policies open us up more?
+3 # Floridatexan 2014-12-30 10:49
I doubt that Professor Reich could have been more clear in his estimation of GOP policies. I'm afraid that people are being brainwashed by the security blanket called FOX, which has a new slant on "fear & loathing" each and every day. It's poisoning our discourse.
+3 # JSRaleigh 2014-12-30 11:54
Makes you wonder why the TeaBag party is so anti-drug with all the hallucinogens they apparently consume.
+1 # Robbee 2014-12-30 16:03
reich's words help move the discussion along, explaining why cbo numbers this congress will be magic bs. beware cbo numbers next two years, they are asterisked in fantasy

i also specially enjoyed brux's comment:
The single best thing that could happen ... would be to straighten out the tax system so it would:

1) Be progressive with high(er) rates at the top end.
2) Treat working/earned income and investment income the same, with the confines of #1, a progressive tax system.

-- america needs to mobilize insistence that, from this congress or any other, america will accept nothing less. we need to put the "progressive" back in our so-called "progressive", actually regressive, income tax system. we have carried rich folks on our backs too long. time they began carrying their own weight. how about that, mr. reich?
-1 # davidmpuff 2014-12-31 10:35
I say, let the Republicans have their way for the next two years. Obama should put up just a little push-back. Look at all societies historically, and you will see that the blow-back by the masses rights things. Let's hope it's non-violent but I'm all for civil disobedience. Let's say, 2 million travel to D.C. and simply sit down in all the major streets.... who can move two million people who are bound and determined to change things??!! We can only hope that the Republicans make this happen quickly.

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