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The Washington Times Is Shrill

Bruce Bartlett points us to this shrill and unbalanced editorial by the Washington Times. Yes, John Snow has finally pushed them over the edge:

TODAY'S EDITORIAL May 22, 2006: Treasury Secretary John Snow might find his credibility rising if he would recognize that his listeners are intelligent. Testifying May 17 before the House Financial Services Committee, he noted that "real [i.e., inflation-adjusted] GDP rose an impressive 4.8 percent at an annual rate in the first quarter of this year." Moments later Mr. Snow, trying to "stress how broadly the benefits of this strong growth impact Americans," cited as example that "average hourly earnings are picking up. We learned from this month's jobs report that average hourly earnings have risen 3.8 percent over the past 12 months -- their largest increase in nearly five years."

Rep. Barney Frank asked Mr. Snow: "What's the [consumer price index] increase over the past 12 months?" Presumably referring to the Labor Department's consumer price index number for April, issued just an hour and a half before Mr. Snow began testifying, the Treasury secretary replied, "It came out recently, as you know. The headline [CPI rate] . . . " He was interrupted by Mr. Frank, who repeated his request for the consumer price index number "over 12 months," the precise period for which Mr. Snow had earlier boasted that "average hourly earnings have risen 3.8 percent." The Treasury secretary replied, lamely, "Well, about 5 [percent], I think, 5.1 [percent]."

Mr. Frank then asked Mr. Snow to "acknowledge that [the] 3.8 percent increase in wages you're talking about is nominal, not adjusted for inflation." Mr. Snow, who holds a Ph.D. in economics, nevertheless hadn't figured it out: "I'll have to go back, congressman, and check these numbers." Mr. Frank persisted. Perhaps helped by an assistant (perhaps without a Ph.D.), Mr. Snow conceded, "For the 12 months, it's nominal."... [T]he actual not-so-good news, beyond the microscopic increase in average real wages, is that America's secretary of the Treasury has no clue about the 12-month "headline" rate of inflation...