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Kevin Drum on Alan Greenpan's Intervention in the Economic Policy Debate

Defending the Ridiculous | Mother Jones

It was remarkable the number of people last fall whom I had thought were smart who were out there arguing that Obama-created "uncertainty" about regulation was at the root of our economic problems--in spite of charts like the one to the right.

I had thought that they had all gone away after the election--after all, if you want to raise uncertainty would there be a better way than to demand immediate and total repeal of the Affordable Care Act as your #1 issue?

Kevin Drum points out that Greenspan's intervention seems as if tuned to keep this talking point alive:

Defending the Ridiculous | Mother Jones: One of the most impressive accomplishments of the modern right is its ability to generate plausible technical papers to justify conservative tropes that are basically ridiculous. For example, during last year's campaign it was popular to claim that our economy was weak because of regulatory uncertainty. This made no real sense at all. Our economy is weak because of economic uncertainty: businesses don't have enough customers to make it worth investing in new capacity or hiring new workers, and they aren't sure when or if new customers will appear in the future. Unfortunately, that didn't make for very good campaign trail bashing. Republicans wanted to convince people that the economy was weak because President Obama and congressional Democrats kept passing onerous new regulations that had businesses scared to death, so that's the story they kept repeating ad nauseum.

It never really caught on outside of campaign stump speeches, though, because — well, because it was ridiculous. What to do? Answer: find someone to write a technical paper demonstrating that regulatory uncertainty really is holding back the economy. But who could they get for this job?

Paul Krugman provides the answer: none other than Alan Greenspan.... Brad DeLong does the dreary work of taking down Greenspan in detail here. Past posts on this site about the uncertainty meme are here, here, and here. Conservative economists piling on the uncertainty bandwagon here....

[A]ll that aside — which is to say, aside from the actual truth of the uncertainty meme — it's impressive, as usual, that the conservative movement managed to find such a big name to put his name to defending the indefensible. After all, news reporters almost have to take the uncertainty meme seriously now, and that's really all that matter. Mission accomplished!