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April 08, 2010

Comments

Well, we don't know which high-ranking Republican thought in 2000 that Clinton stole the 1996 election, but we do know which prominent Democrat thought in 2006 that Bush stole the 2004 election. And from a 2006 Zogby poll, we learn that 59% of Democrats were not at all sure that Bush won the 2004 election fair and square. (You'll have to look at the data to see the crosstabs.) Maybe Chait should be less concerned with isolated Republican distrust of an unfavorable election result and more concerned with widespread Democratic distrust. But then, that wouldn't be Jon Chait.

Brendan wrote: "UWM's Dave Armstrong uses Heritage Foundation data to debunk their claims of declining US economic freedom"

Brendan, this comment is far below your usual standard. There was no debunking. Heritage measured freedom by a certain formula and provided accurate results. Based on their definition, US economic freedom did indeed decline. Armstrong used a different measure of economic freedom and got different results. However, Armstrong even acknowledged that Heritage's model "is not necessarily wrong."

Naturally Armstrong claims that his measure is better; no doubt Heritage thinks theirs is better. So, which formula is the better one? I can't say, but I believe Heritage does have one advantage. I assume that Heritage has been using a consistent formula for some years. That means that they didn't monkey with this year's version in order to get the results they wanted. OTOH Armstrong's formula is new this year, so it has not passed any test of time.

BTW, I disagree with Armstrong's explanation of Heritage's formula. He describes it as 9 measurements of the same thing. I think it makes more sense to view it as measuring 9 different aspects of economic freedom.

Brendan wrote: GW's John Sides summarizes why significant spending cuts are politically impossible in one simple graph

Given the way politics and government work, Sides is probably right. However, a private organization in the same fix would have more options.

Sides looks at only one dimension -- department by department spending. However, suppose one looks at categories of spending. For example, consider the alternative of ending pensions that escalate with inflation, and, going forward, using defined contribution pension plans instead of defined benefit plans.

Such a change would bring federal pensions in line with private pensions, and it would save a mint. However, getting this enacted would require a Congress that was wiser, braver and more unselfish than any Congress I have seen.

Maybe Chait should be less concerned with isolated Republican distrust of an unfavorable election result and more concerned with widespread Democratic distrust.

I don't know who Chait's Congressman was, but Republican distrust was widespread enough that conservatives like Bill Safire and Paul Gigot repeatedly accused Bill Clinton of stealing the 1996 election (in the WSJ, the NYT and elsewhere). Gigot stated it explicitly in a WSJ column titled A Stolen Election published in October 1997.

It is not an example of isolated Republican mistrust. It was a Republican mantra.

Re: "We don't know which high-ranking Republican thought in 2000 that Clinton stole the 1996 election"

I think there needs to be a good deal of skepticism applied to these "anonymous sources". It's really easy to fire off any opinion that crosses your mind, test an idea into the media, or just outright lie, with no retribution back to yourself.

Anonymous sources have value in media but I think Carl Sagan put it best "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".

Jinchi's mention (above) of Paul Gigot's 1997 WSJ column made me go looking for it.

Here's a link:

http://www.terpsboy.com/terpsboyarchives/000903.html

Unsurprisingly, Gigot's article on Clinton's 1996 campaign is not an accusation of ACORN-style voting fraud as Jinchi hints it is. Please read it for yourself.

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