Lies, damn lies, and Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman is a liar. Moreover, as I have noted before, he is the worst kind of liar, a man who dishonestly accuses others of lying. Case in point: Krugman’s recent column attacking Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as a “charlatan” and a “flimflam man”. For the record, Ryan is the only politician with a serious plan to solve our government’s structural deficit.

Krugman doesn’t like Ryan’s plan, but does he offer a serious critique of the plan? No. Instead, he offers a dishonest attack on Ryan’s integrity. In his column and two subsequent blog posts, he says Ryan is a “flimflammer” because he never got the CBO to score the revenue effects of his plan.

Megan McArdle notes that Krugman’s attack misses the mark, for several reasons:

  1. Ryan did request the CBO to score the revenue side, but the CBO declined because:
  2. The CBO does not do revenue estimates, the JCT does that.
  3. Ryan requested the JCT to score the revenue side, but the JCT does not do projections more than ten years out.
  4. Ryan’s office has been very diligent about responding promptly (within 30 minutes!) to questions. Krugman could have learned any of the above facts if he had simply called Ryan’s office to ask.

So who is the flimflammer? The man with the serious plan, or the man throwing around unfounded accusations who doesn’t even know how Congress estimates revenues?

But, rather than slink back into his hole, Krugman doubled down. He said that Ryan is still a flimflammer, indeed somehow is even more so, because — according to Krugman’s reading of Ryan’s response — Ryan didn’t ask for the 10-year estimate that JCT was willing to do.

McArdle, continuing her yeoman’s work, determined that Krugman’s second attack isn’t true either:

To be honest, I too found that passage ambiguous. Which is why I contacted Ryan’s staff, who were happy to clarify that yes, they asked the JCT to do a forecast, and JCT said no. I don’t understand why Krugman keeps diving deeper into these Talmudic interpretations rather than just calling to ask, when their phone number is easily available on their website. There are some questions that are easier to resolve by talking to a live human being than by re-parsing a report, and this happens to be one of them.

Ryan’s a nice guy. I’m sure he’d have been happy to take the good professor’s call.

Once again, Krugman was wrong, which he would have known if he’d made any effort at all to learn the facts.

ASIDE: Krugman, who has used over 1800 words in a column and three blog posts attacking Ryan, also mocked Ryan’s “snow storm of words” in his response. Ryan’s letter was less than 800 words long.

Setting Krugman’s serial libels aside, the substantive question is whether Ryan’s inability to get a JCT evaluation of his plan somehow makes it worthless. McArdle tackles that one as well:

Eakin [former director of the CBO] said that what Ryan had done seemed entirely reasonable: he did his own analysis, and then faced with a different model that conflicted with his results, said that he would be happy to tweak his numbers until he got either the spending side down, or the tax side up. Many policy proposals that have been marinating considerably longer than Ryan’s roadmap have to go through grueling marathons of tweaking and resubmission until they get a good score.

POSTSCRIPT: James Capretta, watching Krugman’s performance, adds that those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

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