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February 2006

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars?

Reed Hundt remembers how things used to be back when we had a real president.

Shouldn't the change he describes be analyzed... discussed... even noted by... the press?

TPMCafe || SOTU and reasoning : It was a long time ago, I suppose, but I recall that during the first term of the Clinton Administration... the process of preparing the State of the Union address took the better part of two months. Everyone from every wing of government launched ideas.... If your notion was mentioned, you knew that there would be follow-up, that you were empowered to press on with your policy.... The speech was intended specifically to introduce proposals in Congress... the hope was that the proposals would become law.... The President aspired to have the whole nation learn the direction but also the details of policies.

The media were not allies. They actually limited the time available for the speech and usually offered not repetition but criticism and cynical comments about the President's motives. Nevertheless, the Administration considered the speech to be an opportunity to address the country outside the distortions of the media.

Now, it seems, the distortions are embedded in the speech, and the media echo them. The process of generating policy ideas, it seems, does not even exist.... Any connection to legislation is almost accidental.... Most of what is said is mean to be ignored by government leaders. It's simply breathtaking that the Energy Department secretary rescinded much of the core of the President's most recent SOTU speech a day later...

Martin Wolf's Economists' Forum

The Financial Times is starting an online webloggy "Economists' Forum," with the excellent Martin Wolf as the ringmaster: / Martin Wolf's economists' forum : Forum: Introduction by Martin Wolf

What are the risks to the world economy? Is the European economy doomed to stagnation? Do the advanced countries face serious problems of fiscal sustainability? How should pensions be financed and organised? Is China's growth sustainable?

These are just a few of the big questions that policy-oriented economists address. Now they will have an opportunity to address them together in an informal way. Under the moderation of Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator of the FT, an invited group of influential, policy-oriented economists from around the globe will consider subjects of immediate interest and ones that are of more enduring significance.

Debates that have until now taken place in closed seminars or conferences will be openly conducted on for the education and stimulation of its readers. The discussion will, no doubt, be vigorous, but it should also be pointed, clear and logical. The FT is delighted to launch this initiative.

Issue #1: The quantity of analysis devoted to the so-called "global imbalances" is extraordinary. As is usual with economists, we have reached no conclusion. Yet what is happening is extraordinary enough to merit an attempt at least to clarify the basis of the disagreements.

I suggest the discussion needs to be focused around five questions: first, what is actually happening? Second, why has the US developed such large current account deficits? Third, in what sense, if any, are these  deficits a matter for concern? Fourth, what is likely to happen and over what time period? Finally, to the extent that they are a concern, what actions should be taken to deal with them and by whom?

Let me outline below what I see as the issues under each of the questions I have listed...

Contributing economists:

The list below includes those economists who have been invited to participate in the forum. Their comments on their subjects of special interest will be published over the months ahead, as Martin Wolf posts his view on the big issues.

Alberto Alesina, Harvard University
Olivier Blanchard, MIT
Willem Buiter, London School of Economics, Goldman Sachs
Ricardo Caballero, MIT
Stephen Cecchetti, Brandeis
Paul Collier, Oxford University
Richard Cooper, Harvard University
Guillermo de la Dehesa, Goldman Sachs
Brad De Long, Berkeley
Peter Diamond, MIT
Michael Dooley, University of California - Santa Cruz
Sebastian Edwards, UCLA
Martin Feldstein, NBER
Jeffrey Frankel, Kennedy School
Richard Freeman, Harvard University
Fan Gang, China Academy of Social Sciences
Wynne Godley, Cambridge University
Robert Gordon, Northwestern University
Ricardo Hausmann, Kennedy School
Glenn Hubbard, Columbia University
Taketoshi Ito, Tokyo Univeristy
Robert Laurence, Kennedy School
Richard Layard, London School of Economics
Robert Lucas, Chicago University
Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University
Alan Meltzer, Carnegie-Mellon
Ronald McKinnon, Stanford University
Edmund (Ned) Phelps, Columbia University
Jean Pisani-Ferry, Brueghel
Richard Portes, London Business School
Adam Posen , Institute for International Economics
Helmut Reisen, OECD
Danny Rodrik, Kennedy School
Andrew Rose, University of California - Berkeley
Nouriel Roubini, New York University
Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University
Andrei Sapir, European Centre for Advanced Research in Economics
Paul Seabright, Toulouse
Hans-Werner Sinn, University of Munich
Laurence Summers, Harvard University
Tony Venables, London School of Economics
Juergen von Hagen, University of Bonn
Robert Wade, London School of Economics
Adrian Wood, Oxford University
Luigi Zingales, Chicago University

And It's Today's Human-Animal Hybrid Report...

From Opinions You Should Have:

White House Staff Hit Hard By Human-Animal Hybrid Ban : A ban on human-animal hybrids announced by President Bush in his State of the Union address has many senior White House staffers panicked, and the NIH, which has been tasked with enforcing the ban, has already prepared subpoenas for DNA samples for most of the White House staff.

Dick Cheney, who is thought to be a chickenhawk/man, told reporters today that the State of the Union was not intended to be taken literally by anyone. "It's really a rhetorical flourish," he said. Karl Rove, who many people freely attest is "not entirely human," backed up Cheney, saying that almost everything the President said was "unenforceable." Cheney and Rove then retired to the White House dining room where they gnawed on hanging seed sticks and sharpened their beaks.

A White House official, who preferred to remain anonymous because commenting on the genetic makeup of co-workers is frowned upon, said that Donald Rumsfeld, while not necessarily a chickenhawk, was certainly half-man, half-beast.

In this morning's press gaggle, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan found himself denying rumors today that the President himself is "half-man, half-chimp," saying only, "There's just a resemblance." After becoming increasingly defensive, McClellan finally compared the press corps to "a bunch of geese" and left the room.

A poll this morning found that Americans, by and large, are completely unconcerned by events in the White House or on Capitol Hill. According to pollster Melonie Fisk, "On the whole, Americans are more concerned with keeping up with the herd and the coming spring shearing."

The Housing Economy...

Kash Mansouri writes:

Angry Bear: Taking a look at the industry shares of employment gains over the past year illustrates that construction has regularly accounted for nearly one out of five new jobs in the US economy. In percentage terms the growth rate of jobs in the construction sector was higher than for [almost] any other industry in 2005.... Unsurprisingly, all of this confirms what we already knew: the US economy is steadily shifting away from producing tradeable goods, toward producing non-tradeable goods. And that underlies most of the concern many people have about how painful an adjustment in the US's current account deficit might someday be.Kash

Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy and

My father writes:

[W]hat is a Chinese leader dedicated to the welfare of the people to do, given this incredible uncertainty, and the lack of convincing models? The wisest course seems to be: Focus on perestroika above glasnost. Move cautiously. Avoid any threat of losing control to demagoguery and mob rule, which inevitably ends in re-authoritarianism. Develop the rule of law before an extended franchise. And keep maneuvering in the fantastically complicated situation involving the modernists, the PLA, the old Mao-ists, the modern equivalent of regional warlords, the rising demands of the new economic classes, and the restlessness of the people who see that a better life is possible.

And given this Chinese view, what should Google do? Google should do what Google does, which is search engines... search engines, even truncated [i.e., censored] ones, will contribute to the economic and political development of China.... The working out of this story will be one of the great tales of human history, for tragedy or triumph, depending on how it goes."

And gets flamed by Jacob Sullum and many others for making an argument about that is, I think, fundamentally derived from Barrington Moore's old Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy.

One of Moore's major points was that mass politics--ideology-based political parties, popular mobilization via media, universal suffrage, et cetera--appeared, in the history of nineteenth and twentieth century Europe at least, to be a poisonous recipe for fascism or worse unless a strong, confident, independent, articulate, powerful middle class had already established itself.

Life and Fate...

In this morning's mail: Vasily Grossman (2005), A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army, 1941-1945 (New York: Pantheon: 0375424075).

Grossman's Life and Fate is certainly one of the best Russian novels of the twentieth century. These wartime notebooks were raw material for the novel, but are, I think, more important as witness to what went on between 1941 and 1945.

We in the west have still done far too little to repay our debt to the soldiers of the Red Army and to the workers of Magnitogorsk for what they did and suffered in those years.

January Employment Release

From Reuters:

News One Article | : WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. employers added a smaller-than-forecast 193,000 new jobs in January but job growth in each of the five prior months was pushed up as part of a broader annual revision of the Labor Department's statistics collection, a government report on Friday showed.The monthly report showed the January unemployment rate dropped to a 4-1/2-year low 4.7 percent from 4.9 percent in December. The last time the rate was lower was in July 2001 when it was at 4.6 percent.

Economists had forecast that 240,000 new jobs would be created in January and that the unemployment rate would be unchanged at 4.9 percent.

Average hourly earnings rose to $16.41 in January from $16.34 in December. In the 12 months through January, earnings have risen by 3.3 percent, the largest for any 12-month period in nearly three years, since February 2003. The wage data is likely to fan concerns that steady job growth is pushing up demands for wage rises and that could help foster broader inflation.Previously, the department said 108,000 jobs were created in December but it pushed that up to 140,000 and it said that, in November, 354,000 jobs were created rather than the 305,000 it reported a month ago.

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another Washington Post Edition)

David Broder is a sad, strange little man, and he has our pity:

Michael Crowley makes the catch:

The Plank : DAVID BRODER SELF-PARODY WATCH, PART XII: Gotta love David Broder! What, in his view, was a key highlight of Bush's generally drab State of the Union address? The bipartisan entitlements commission, of course! Washington sure is overdue for one of those, isn't it? You have to hand it to the man, he stays true to himself....

It would be really funny if it weren't so sad. It would be really sad if it weren't so funny.

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (New York Times Edition)

UPDATE: Eric Umansky weighs in:

Deficit Distraction By Eric Umansky : The New York Times and Washington Post all lead with the House barely passing $40 billion in cuts, mostly to student loans, crop subsidies, and Medicaid. The Senate passed the bill in December, so now it goes to the White House for the president's signature. The Los Angeles Times also leads with the cuts but focuses on the roughly $2 billion in aid California is expected to lose. USA Today leads with the U.S. plan to rehab Iraq's health-care system running into serious snafus. One-hundred-eighty clinics were supposed to have been built by December 2005. Number actually finished so far: four. Number that have opened: zero....

The budget bill, which passed by only two votes and got no Democratic support, was pitched by Republican leaders as a key part of a big push to rein in the deficit. It wasn't. As the Post [Jonathan Weisman] notes, "The impact of the bill on the deficit is likely to be negligible, slicing less than one-half of 1 percent from the estimated $14.3 trillion in federal spending over the next five years." That bit of reality comes well-past-the-fold. Instead, higher up we're treated to that ever-informative practice of dueling quotes, including this fine bit of flab from a Republican rep., "American taxpayers, and anyone concerned with the nation's long-term fiscal stability, have won a great victory today."

The NYT [Sheryl Gay Stolberg] plays up the politics of the close vote, then plays dumb: "The vote helped President Bush deliver on his promise to rein in federal spending."

The LAT [Richard Simon and Joel Havema] isn't so slow. It notes that not only were the cuts themselves "mild," Congress is about to pump up the deficit a bit. As the House was voting on the budget tweaking, "the Senate was debating a $56-billion tax cut that the House had already passed." The net result of the two measures would "add $16 billion to federal deficits."

Sheryl Gay Stolberg needs to take Susan Rasky's and my course--badly:

Congress Narrowly Approves $39 Billion in Budget Cuts - New York Times : House Republicans, handing a close-fought victory to President Bush on the heels of his State of the Union address, pushed through a measure today to rein in spending by nearly $40 billion over the next five years, with cuts in student loans, crop subsidies and Medicaid, the government's health insurance program for the poor. The bill, approved 216 to 214, largely along party lines, is the first major attempt in eight years to curb what is known as entitlement spending.... President Bush, who has made controlling the growth of government spending one of his signature domestic issues, has promised to sign it.... The bill would cut the growth of education spending by more than $16 billion between 2006 and 2010, and make reductions in the spending on Medicaid and Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly, as well. Republicans cast it as an important step toward restraining programs that, they said, would gobble up the entire federal budget if left unchecked.

But with the Senate taking up a tax-cutting measure at the same time, Democrats sounded what will be a prominent election year theme: that Republicans were cutting taxes for the rich at the expense of services for the poor. And at a time when Congress is consumed by a lobbying scandal, Democrats also complained bitterly that the measure was written without them, behind closed doors with the help of paid representatives from the drug and insurance industries.... The budget-cutting bill is actually a holdover from last year; it first passed the House in late December in an all-night marathon session...

In our syllabus, we wrote apropos last November's New York Times story on this bill: [The story totally lacks any placing of the bill's size in context.] The Federal government currently spends money at the rate of $2.6 trillion a year. Total incomes in the entire American economy are about $12 trillion a year. Saving $35 billion over five years means that you are saving $7 billion a year--0.3% of federal spending; 0.06% of GDP. Out of a federal budget that spends $9,000 per person per year, Judd Gregg is saving $27 a year. Thus reading a lead like [Robert Pear's] makes Brad DeLong... foam at the mouth: phrases like "sweeping," "ambitious," "commitment," and "fiscal responsibility" simply have no place here--especially since Pear and Hulse do not give their readers any of the numbers needed as reference points to assess the magnitude of the Senate's action...

Yet here we have Sheryl Gay Stolberg say that this is a "major attempt... to curb entitlement spending." There's nothing "major" about it.

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Incompetents?

NEC Director Allan Hubbard and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman play cleanup after George W. Bush:

KR Washington Bureau | 02/01/2006 | Administration backs off Bush's vow to reduce Mideast oil imports : By Kevin G. Hall: WASHINGTON - One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally.... America still would import oil from the Middle East.... The president's State of the Union reference to Mideast oil made headlines nationwide Wednesday because of his assertion that "America is addicted to oil" and his call to "break this addiction."

Bush vowed to fund research into better batteries for hybrid vehicles and more production of the alternative fuel ethanol, setting a lofty goal of replacing "more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025." He pledged to "move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past."

Not exactly, though, it turns out.

"This was purely an example," Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said....

Asked why the president used the words "the Middle East" when he didn't really mean them, one administration official said Bush wanted to dramatize the issue in a way that "every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands." The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he feared that his remarks might get him in trouble. Presidential adviser Dan Bartlett [had] made a similar point... "I think one of the biggest concerns the American people have is oil coming from the Middle East. It is a very volatile region," he said....

Alan Hubbard, the director of the president's National Economic Council, projects that America will import 6 million barrels of oil per day from the Middle East in 2025 without major technological changes in energy consumption. The Bush administration believes that new technologies could reduce the total daily U.S. oil demand by about 5.26 million barrels.... But we'll still be importing plenty of oil, according to the Energy Department's latest projection. "In 2025, net petroleum imports, including both crude oil and refined products, are expected to account for 60 percent of demand ... up from 58 percent in 2004," according to the Energy Information Administration's 2006 Annual Energy Outlook.

Some experts think Bush needs to do more to achieve his stated goal.

"We can achieve energy independence from the Middle East, but not with what the president is proposing," said Craig Wolfe, the president of Americans for Energy Independence in Studio City, Calif. "We need to slow the growth in consumption. Our organization believes we need to do something about conservation" and higher auto fuel-efficiency standards.

In Favor of Human-Animal Hybrids (Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Evildoers?)

George W. Bush is evil.

Kevin Drum writes:

The Washington Monthly: MAD SCIENTISTS AND PIG MEN....I know that I wasn't the only one mumbling "WTF?" when George Bush talked about banning "human-animal hybrids" last night, but apparently it was just a garden variety shout out to the religious right. PZ Myers provides an example of what's really going on in our nation's labs:

It's pure political calculus. He throws away the mad scientist and pig-man vote, and wins the religious ignoramus vote…and we know which one has the majority here.

But guess what? Creating chimeras is legitimate and useful scientific research; it's really happening. Of course, it isn't with the intent of creating monstrous half-animal/half-human slaves or something evil like that, and scientists are well aware (or should be well aware) of the ethical concerns, and it's the topic of ongoing debate. Let's consider one recent example of such an experiment.

Downs syndrome is a very common genetic disorder caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21. That kind of genetic insult causes a constellation of problems: mild to moderate mental retardation, heart defects, and weakened immune systems, and various superficial abnormalities. It's also a viable defect, and produces walking, talking, interacting human beings who are loved by their friends and families, who would really like to be able to do something about those lifespan-reducing health problems. We would love to have an animal model of Downs syndrome, so that, for example, we could figure out exactly what gene overdose is causing the immune system problems or the heart defects, and develop better treatments for them.

So what scientists have been doing is inserting human genes into mice, to produce similar genetic overdoses in their development. As I reported before, there have been partial insertions, but now a team of researchers has inserted a complete human chromosome 21 into mouse embryonic stem cells, and from those generated a line of aneuploid mice that have many of the symptoms of Down syndrome, including the heart defects. They also have problems in spatial learning and memory that have been traced back to defects in long-term potentiation in the central nervous system.

These mice are a tool to help us understand a debilitating human problem.

George W. Bush would like to make them illegal.

He's trusting that everyone will think he is banning monstrous crimes against nature, but what he's really doing is targeting the weak and the ill, blocking useful avenues of research that are specifically designed to help us understand human afflictions. His message isn't "We aren't going to let the mad scientists make monsters!", it's "We aren't going to let the doctors help those 'retards.'"

Once again, the ignorance and the bigotry of the religious right wins out over reason and humanitarianism. I think I know who the real pig-men are.

Actually, that's kind of disappointing. I was hoping that scientists were working on outfitting me with the eyes of an eagle and the reflexes of a cat. But instead they're just working on curing disease and making the world a better place. Sheesh.

Calling Bush's Lies Lies (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)

Michael Kinsley once said:

CJR Daily: Michael Kinsley on Slate vs. the L.A. Times, Calling a Lie a Lie, and Opinion Journalism as Indulgence : The biggest problem [with American journalism] is -- and I don't know what the solution is, so it's not a criticism, as much as it is a puzzle -- is that the conventions of objectivity make it very difficult to say that something is a lie. And they require balance, which is often just not justified by reality

Example from this morning: Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post unable to quite say that Bush's lies are lies--and still have national political editor John Harris think that he is "objective":

Glenn Kessler : "Assertions on Spying, Jobs And Spending Invite Debate": Bush waded right in the middle of the debate over his warrantless domestic eavesdropping program, making a number of assertions that have been subject to intense debate.... Bush strongly suggested that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks could have been prevented if the phone calls of two hijackers had been monitored.... But the Sept. 11 commission and congressional investigators said... bureaucratic problems -- not a lack of information -- were the main reasons for the security breakdown.... Bush also asserted that "previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have." But the most recent example cited... is hotly disputed by Democrats who say the current and past situations are not comparable. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which required the executive branch to get approval from a secret court before conducting wiretaps within the United States, was silent on warrantless physical searches of suspected spies or terrorists. So the Clinton administration asserted that it had the authority to conduct such "black bag" jobs.... Clinton later sought amendments to FISA that brought physical searches, as well as wiretaps, under the FISA framework. Bush has never sought such amendments, and he did not publicly acknowledge the program until it was revealed in news reports.

In other sections of his speech, Bush omitted context or made rhetorical claims that are open to question. Referring to Iraq, he said the United States is "continuing reconstruction efforts." He did not use the word "spending" because... the administration does not intend to seek any new funds for Iraq reconstruction.... Bush said the number of jobs went up by 4.6 million in the past two and half years. There was a reason he chose not to start from the beginning of his presidency -- that would have brought the net number of added jobs down to 2 million....

Bush also made a pair of contradictory pledges on the budget. He said the budget deficit -- which has soared during his presidency -- is on track to decline by half by 2009. But he also urged a permanent extension of his tax cuts... this would send the budget deficit soaring after 2011.

The president said he has reduced "the growth" of non-security discretionary spending. This only means it did not increase as much from year to year. Moreover, overall discretionary spending has exploded during his tenure, especially when military spending is included.... [D]iscretionary spending as a share of the overall economy is at its highest level in 13 years, according to the CBO....

Bush ended his address with a stirring image that "every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing." But then he said, "The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe, and been complicit in the oppression of others." This is historically misleading. At the end of World War II, the United States allowed the division of Europe between Soviet and Western spheres, though it drew the line at giving up West Berlin. And the United States permitted the Soviet Union's grabbing of large parts of other countries -- or even whole countries, such as the Baltic states. Bush should know this. In May, he flew to Latvia and declared that the United States bore some blame for "the division of Europe into armed camps" -- what he called "one of the greatest wrongs of history."

Note what Glenn Kessler tries to do: He tries to signal--in as many ways as he can--that Bush is telling lies "Historically misleading", "contradictory pledges", "omitted context", "rhetorical claims that are open to question", "did not use the word 'spending'", "subject to intense debate", and so forth. This is Mike Allen's dictum that you write so that a sophisticated, careful reader understands who is lying--in this case, Bush. The White House, however, is not to unhappy to Glenn Kessler's story. It thinks that the overwhelming bulk of readers will think: "The President made his case, and partisan Democrats are sniping at him. Who knows who is right?"

Winged Pigs: Max Sawicky Praises the Corner

National Review pleasantly surprises Max Sawicky:

Something strange happened at The Corner. They let someone who is not a clown say something about economics. Turns out it's my buddy Kevin Hassett at the American Enterprise Institute. I reproduce it in full since it's my favorite comment on the SOTU, besides my own:

The economic portion of the speech could have been better. Bush dodged his biggest problem — his profligate spending — and offered nothing substantive to reverse the striking recent growth of government. The savings he mentioned were laughably small.

The idea factory is almost running on empty. He called for another commission, this time to study the long run entitlement problem. The experience of the most recent tax-reform commission was so terrible that the next commission members will have to be drawn from individuals who have been lost at sea for at least two years. (Emphasis added. -- mbs) What we really need is a commission to study commissions, or at least an advisory panel to study whether we need a commission to study commissions. That panel would, of course, be bipartisan, and I am disappointed he did not mention it tonight.

The American Competitiveness Initiative includes a recommendation to make the R&D tax credit permanent, something that has been advocated by every politician (except for those who understand how the abomination works) for a zillion years. It is not going to happen. Lawmakers enjoy squeezing lobbyists every other year or so when it is up for renewal. The tax panel savaged the R&D credit. They must be very happy tonight. The headline tax proposal is to make permanent something the tax panel tried to repeal. (Please reread the last paragraph now, but do be careful not to be caught in an infinite loop.)

He also wants to increase funding for hard sciences, a solid idea. We are running out of physicists, and we need more of them.

Kevin underscores a point I neglected -- the unmentionableness of Bush's Advisory Panel on Tax Reform. A member of this panel, Professor Edward Lazear of Stanford, just took the lead position at the Council of Economic Advisers. Now there's a good soldier.

I seem to be... much less... enthusiastic... about Kevin Hassett than Max is. Hassett has carried a lot of water for bad Bushie policies over the past six years--and knows better. And there is the egregious Dow 36000--where Kevin also knew better. But given that the bar at National Review's The Corner is at absolute zero, Hassett's contribution is a vast improvement.

Bush: "If We Reverse the Polarity on the Flux Capacitor!"

Chad Orzel has the best sum up of Bush's State of the Union address I have seen: he explains something the national press corps has failed to learn--that listening to George W. Bush is invariably a waste of time:

Uncertain Principles : The main reason why I didn't watch the speech to hear what Bush would say... is that it doesn't matter what he says. This administration doesn't do policy, they do politics. If Bush says something in a speech, it's because they think it will sound good in a speech, period. That doesn't mean there's a concrete proposal in the works-- if the line in he speech is poorly received, odds are it will disappear without a trace. And even if the line sounds good, that doesn't mean there will be any follow-through-- ask the people of New York, Afghanistan, Iraq, and New Orleans about that.

So, yeah, "double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years" sounds great. So does "If we reverse the polarity on the flux capacitor, we can generate an infinite amount of free energy, and a pony."