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December 09, 2010


Media Matters cherry-picks their data to try to make a point.

They accuse Peggy Noonan of having no evidence that the American people made it clear that the great issue is spending. The evidence is so obvious, Noonan doesn't even have to mention it. We just had an election in which the Tea Parties, who stand for controlling government spending, were the most dynamic force. MM mentions some polls, but ignores the actual election results.

MM's comparison of the Bush deficits to the Obama deficits also shows them resolutely ignoring what's right in front of their eyes. They write: "Remember, these tax cuts have been in place for eight years. But if Noonan thinks extending them will suddenly make federal spending cuts inevitable, then why weren't cuts made over the last eight years?" (Italics MM's)

The Bush annual deficits averaged under $150 billion. Nobody liked these deficits, but they were manageable. The Obama annual deficits are projected to average more like $1.5 trillion -- ten times as high! Virtually everyone agrees that this level is not manageable. If continued, the current level of deficits will harm the US dollar.

I can't help but be amused by the public posturing. For ten years all we heard from the Democrats was that the Bush tax cuts were tax cuts for the rich. Now that the Bush tax cuts are becoming the Obama tax cuts, they're tax relief for the middle class. Sure, Obama would prefer to skip tax relief for the fat cats--you know, those married persons who each earn a king's ransom of something over $125,000 and light their cigars with hundred dollar bills. But since the benefits of the Bush Obama tax cuts fall 82% on the poor and middle class and only 18% on the "rich," he's willing to endure the unendurable. Laughter aplenty.

Nice link to the article on the use of randomized controlled trials to evaluate social welfare programs. Like medical studies, this one has IRB approval and participants must give informed consent.

In addition to the political and ethical challenges, there may be practical challenges in interpreting the results. There's no way to run this study double-blind or single-blind. Families will know whether or not they get the aid. As a result, the Hawthorne Effect could muddle the results. Nevertheless, I applaud this effort to try to analyze just how well the program is working.

George W. Bush may deserve some credit. During the No Child Left Behind debate, Bush preached the need to evaluate program effectiveness. This may something he learned at Harvard Business School. As far as I can recall, he was the first President to make such a fuss about methodical program evaluation.

Brendan - I am not sure I understand your point in this post above, so if I mis-interpret please correct me:

WSJ: "estate of $5 mill. isn't all that much for successful & thrifty business person w/some real estate" http://j.mp/fg7WbA Reality: Tiny %

Just because there might be a small percentage affected (which by the way I'd like to see some back up for your assertion), doesn't mean it's not important.

The issue s/b is it fair and/or the right thing to do. If you believe it isn't fair or equitable, then even it is only impacts a few people (even if they are the hated "rich") it's not right.

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