Jim Henley Is Disappointed
Ezra Klein: Health Insurance Matters

Ezra Klein Is Naive About Brooks and Income Inequality

He is still outraged by David Brooks:

Ezra Klein: And One Last on Brooks: Before the day ends. A smart and handsome correspondent e-mails:

Three more points that I think you should make.

(1) The modest real wage increase last year wasn't the start of a trend - it was a blip because gas prices fell. When they popped up again this year, real wages fell again, visible in your first chart.

(2) Notice that the gains in total income for the bottom fifth were much less than the gains in earnings, mainly because of reduced benefits. Part of the story here is that welfare reform forced a lot of mothers into the work force. That increases earnings, but it means that the earning increase is quite misleading as a measure of how people were doing. It's also true that the Clinton boom allowed some people to get off welfare and into work, but again just looking at earnings is a deliberately misleading way to look at things.

(3) The result that very high incomes are predominantly on Wall Street is interesting. But since when is "It's not CEOs paying 35 percent taxes, it's hedge fund managers paying 15 percent - less than secretaries!" an ANTI-populist observation?

Agreed. I want to emphasize, again, that this article is dishonest and misleading, in effect if not intent. I'm perfectly willing to believe some rightwing Heritage type impressed a perfectly well-intentioned David Brooks with these points at a party, but either way, the resulting article served to deceive readers of the New York Times op-ed page as to the state of the economy.

This strikes me as a rather big deal.

The honchos of the New York Times don't think this is a big deal. You see, in their minds Brooks is not there to inform people but to "balance" Paul Krugman. He performs that task admirably.