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Fri Feb 22, 2013, 08:56 AM

"...there's no shared basis for reality."

Posted with permission.

http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/02/22/17056245-when-false-claims-drive-the-debate?lite

When false claims drive the debate
By Steve Benen
-
Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:37 AM EST



As best as I can tell, New York Times columnist David Brooks is a well-connected pundit. Powerful people return his phone calls, and when he wants information from top governmental offices, Brooks tends to get them.

And with this in mind, it's puzzling that Brooks based his entire column today on an easily-checked error. The conservative pundit insists President Obama "declines to come up with a proposal to address" next week's sequester mess, adding, "The president hasn't actually come up with a proposal to avert sequestration."

I'll never understand how conservative media personalities get factual claims like this so very wrong. If Brooks doesn't like Obama's sequester alternative, fine; he can write a column explaining his concerns. But why pretend the president's detailed, already published plan, built on mutual concessions from both sides, doesn't exist? If you're David Brooks, why don't you just pick up the phone, call the West Wing, and say, "Do you folks have a proposal to address the sequester or not?" I'm certain an administration official would help him by sending him exactly what he's looking for, and then he wouldn't have to publish claims that are demonstrably wrong.

In the larger context, Brooks' deeply unfortunate error is symptomatic of a larger problem: as sequestration approaches, we're stuck in a debate in which facts seem to have very little meaning.

"President Obama has said that unless he gets a second tax hike in eight weeks, he will be forced to let criminals loose on the streets, the meat at your grocery store won't be inspected and emergency responders will be unable to do their jobs," {House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)}said in his statement.

"These are false choices. We are faced with the negative effects of the sequester because Democrats have not been able to take even the smallest step towards controlling spending."

Why lie like this? Cantor surely knows that President Obama has already accepted over $1.2 trillion in spending cuts. Cantor surely knows over $2.4 trillion in debt reduction has already happened. Cantor surely knows the deficit has nearly been cut in half over the last four years. Cantor surely knows Obama has offered to accept another $600 billion in spending cuts as part of a sequester compromise. So why put out a statement based on claims that aren't true?

The country is facing a real threat next week and there's room a worthwhile debate, but it's important for the public to understand that a constructive discussion is impossible when there's no shared basis for reality.

8 replies, 764 views

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Arrow 8 replies Author Time Post
Reply "...there's no shared basis for reality." (Original post)
babylonsister Feb 2013 OP
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #1
LondonReign2 Feb 2013 #2
OceanEcosystem Feb 2013 #4
babylonsister Feb 2013 #3
freshwest Feb 2013 #7
surrealAmerican Feb 2013 #5
Angry Dragon Feb 2013 #6
napoleon_in_rags Feb 2013 #8

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 09:01 AM

1. Benen: "Cantor surely knows the deficit has nearly been cut in half over the last four years."

 

Wait, what?

Maybe I'm confused here, but if "deficit" is referring to the total national debt, didn't that increase from like, $11 trillion to $16 trillion in the past four years?

Or does "deficit" mean the annual deficit - the amount of money spent minus the amount of revenue collected? In which case the deficit could be said to be getting smaller. The terminology really gets me confused at times.

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Response to OceanEcosystem (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 09:08 AM

2. Lots of things get you confused when you listen to Faux

Deficit = annual amount
Debt = cumulative amount


http://www.marketwatch.com/story/obama-spending-binge-never-happened-2012-05-22?pagenumber=2

"All it takes to sweep away the hay is a simple comparison of previous administration spending, a endeavor that Rex Nutting of MarketWatch undertook to investigate Republican claims of the Presidentís fiscal irresponsibility. What he found was that the Obama spending binge never happened. In fact, the record shows that federal spending under Obama has grown less than under any other president in the past 60 years. Spending under Obama rose 1.4 percent from 2009 to 2011, which includes the $789 billion TARP bank bailout. Compare this to the rate of growth during President Bushís second term (where the TARP was actually passed by congress) of 8.1 percent or the largest rate of spending growth under President Reaganís first term of 8.7 percent."

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Response to LondonReign2 (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 09:11 AM

4. OK, thanks. I figured I got debt and deficit mixed up. N/t.

 

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 05:26 PM

7. TY!

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 09:43 AM

5. The questions we are left with here is:

Does Brooks know he's lying, or is he just being an irresponsible journalist?
and
What do his editors think about this? Why are they still willing to publish this commentary?

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 10:24 AM

6. How come the House wants the President to keep his nose out of immigration but

at the same time that want him to balance the budget on his own??

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 09:56 PM

8. There's an app for that

Important for the public to understand that a constructive discussion is impossible when there's no shared basis for reality.

IARPA has a public project called something like 'futures exchange' where people post questions with measurable answers, and people try to predict outcomes. You bet points on outcomes, so the people who are measurably most correct have the most points. I think its worth watching, because the 'no shared basis for reality' thing is literally true, and its a huge issue. Any system like this which builds a shared consensus for reality can do a world of good for the US.

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