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September 18, 2008

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Nice interview, Brendan. Move over, Norm Ornstein and Jonathan Turley, there's a new gunslinger in town.

Brendan -

I'd be interested in hearing your take on this article from NewScientistTech:

http://tinyurl.com/4znlgv

"Software spots the spin in political speeches"

Are computers gonna put you out of a job? ;-)

Best of luck on the radio!

Hey MartyB - you can listen to the broadcast as a podcast (streaming audio) on the station web-site.

http://wunc.org/tsot/archive/sot0918a08.mp3/view

Brendan, I think Terry Gross is on the phone...

After listening to Brendan's fine interview, I am even more suspicious that differences between liberal and conservative responses may be due to the tester's political biases. In the course of the interview, I heard Frank Stasio assert (incorrectly, I believe) that all Swift Boat accusations had been refuted. I heard careless usage about whether Saddam had WMDs before the invasion, whereas Brendan's article was careful to specify immediately before the invasion.

The paper's correction on stem cell research was almost accurate, but it would have been better to point out the difference between stem cell research and embryonic stem cell research. Bush limited, but did not ban, the latter as described in Brendan's article. However, there was no restriction on the former. In fact, Bush funded non-embryonic stem cell research at record levels.

The discussion in the paper sometimes fails to distinguish between whether the proposition was that all tax rate decreases increase taxes collected vs. whether Bush's specific rate decrease did so.

Regarding the latter question, it's far from clear whether Bush's tax cuts were responsible for increased tax revenue (as well as being impossible to prove, as Brendan points out.) From a 2007 CBO Report:

In response to your letter of May 11, 2007, the Congressional Budget Office
(CBO) has reviewed the available data and analyzed the sources and underlying causes of the growth in revenues since 2003. This analysis shows that the overall increase in revenues as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) since 2003 is disproportionately accounted for by increases in corporate income tax revenues.
Growth in Federal Tax Revenues From 2003 to 2006.

Total federal revenues grew by about $625 billion, or 35 percent, between fiscal
year 2003 and fiscal year 2006. CBO’s analysis of that increase in revenues since
2003 is necessarily preliminary because relevant data are not yet fully available.
CBO examined the available data using the commonly employed method of
analyzing the sources of revenue growth as a percentage of GDP. Had revenues
grown at the same rate as the overall economy between 2003 and 2006, federal
receipts would have increased by only $373 billion. The other $252 billion of the
actual increase in revenues represents growth in excess of GDP growth. As a
result, receipts as a share of GDP rose from 16.5 percent in 2003 to 18.4 percent
in 2006, an increase of 1.9 percentage points.

So, a later look than Brendan's correction would have shown substantial tax revenue increases. That doesn't prove that Bush's tax cuts deserve the credit, but it does contradict Brendan's correction which seems to say that tax revenues decreased after the Bush tax cuts.

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