Mark Thoma finds Robert Samuelson of Newsweek and theWashington Post far gone into total insanity: calling George W. Bush and the Republican Congressional leadership flatulent cows engaged in a campaign of public disinformation--that's a striking image:
Economist's View: Yet Another Robert Samuelson Edition...: No Shame, No Sense and a $296 Billion Bill, by Robert J. Samuelson, Commentary, Washington Post: [U]tterly shameless... President Bush... federal budget... flatulence in cows... the Republicans' orgy of self-approval amounts to a campaign of public disinformation.... [T]he budget should be balanced -- or run a surplus -- when the economy is close to "full employment," as it is now.... Bush doesn't praise... interest payment on the growing federal debt... rise from $184 billion in 2005 to $302 billion in 2011. Some conservatives rationalize their indifference to deficits as "starving the beast"... theory doesn't fit the facts...
Yep. He has been driven into shrill unholy madness by the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, and disconnection from reality of George W. Bush and his administration.
Too bad we couldn't have had any of this rhetoric from Robert Samuelson six years ago, back when Bush was lowballing the cost of his tax cut by assuming that most of it would be snarfed back by the Alternative Minimum Tax when adding all the numbers up and highballing the "benefits" to the rich by assuming the AMT would be repealed when calculating any individual's tax cut. That was a bigger campaign of public disinformation. And I'm sure Samuelson was hearing the same things I was in 2000 from people who'd been to Crawford and come back shaking their heads at what they found there.
And it's too bad that Robert Samuelson has turned himself into the Noam Chomsky of the budget with his insistance on "moral equivalence" in fiscal policy: that in every column of his he has to make stuff up so that he can claim that "Democrats aren't much better [than Republicans]." You have to very carefully parse Samuelson's words: when Samuelson writes that "budget surpluses from 1998 to 2001... resulted mainly from the end of the Cold War (which lowered defense spending) and the economic boom" he is not denying that Clinton did a huge amount of heavy lifting to improve the fiscal situation--he is only asserting that Clinton's policy changes brought the budget back from the Reagan deficits not into surplus but only into rough balance. (I have dealt with this before.)
Still, flatulent cows engaged in a public disinformation campaign--that's good.