by John Hawkins | May 30, 2003 8:13 pm
An Economist Andrew Sullivan Isn’t: Sully shows all the critical thinking skills of Maureen Dowd after a three martini lunch as he reviews a poorly written article in the Financial Times  about America’s future deficits. Here’s a quote from the article and Sully’s comment…
“The study’s analysis of future deficits dwarfs previous estimates of the financial challenge facing Washington. It is roughly equivalent to 10 times the publicly held national debt, four years of US economic output or more than 94 per cent of all US household assets. Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve chairman, last week bemoaned what he called Washington’s “deafening” silence about the future crunch.”
With each Bush budget, the fiscal future of this country – including its ability to fight necessary wars – is being gutted. Why are there so few conservative voices protesting?
I don’t know, maybe there are so few voices protesting because the numbers quoted in that article have absolutely nothing to do with the Bush budget. Come on, how can Sullivan think that a piddly 350 billion dollar tax cut is going to cause the deficit to balloon like that (44 trillion dollars is the figure the article mentions)? I expect those sorts of comments from partisan ultra-leftists who never let the facts get in the way of smears against the right, but what’s Sullivan’s excuse?
By the way, if you look at the interview itself you’ll find that the Financial Times left out this VERY relevant info (which is why I called the article poorly written)…
“Kent Smetters: Our calculation of a $44,000bn present value shortfall is actually very conservative. Our estimate of the Social Security liability is only around $7,000bn which is $3,000bn less than what it appears in the Trustees report. The reason why our Social Security number is smaller is that we calculate it under OMB assumptions, which are different than the assumptions used by the Trustees. Our Medicare number of over $36,000bn is calculated under very conservative health-care growth assumptions. Unfortunately, the Trustees’ have not yet calculated that number for Medicare. But still it’s very clear that almost all the problems are SS and Medicare. It’s not the rest of the government that’s a problem.”
So the problem is with Social Security and Medicare just as you’d expect. The Financial Times should have made that clear and Sullivan should have known better.
Hat tip to Two–Four for pointing out the text of the interview.
***Update***: Donald Luskin weighs in with an excellent post on this subject.
***Update #2***: Assume The Position does a great post on this 75 year projected deficit that Andrew Sullivan implies that the Bush Administration is responsible for.
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