Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rep Oberstar's slippery version of truth

Today's StarTribune has an editorial from Rep Jim Oberstar today on the effects of the stimulus bill;  "Thanks to the Recovery Act, We're Afloat".  Most of it is standard politician talk.
Over the past summer I have toured Minnesota, observing how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been putting people to work. Projects are underway across Minnesota, and just six months into this two-year program, I am seeing positive results.
And he takes a shot at an op-ed piece last week, calling the writer out of touch.
In a Sept. 10 opinion piece, Tom Steward asked: "Where are the jobs promised by the stimulus?" As a political operative for GOP presidential candidate John McCain, and now as a researcher for a conservative think tank, Steward probably doesn't get out much. If he did, he would see people across Minnesota either going to work or staying at work because Congress and President Obama took quick action.
This is a man who has been in Congress since I was two years old, saying that someone else needs to get out more.  Pot, meet kettle.

But Oberstar then ventures off into fantasy land by quoting the Wall Street Journal to make his point.  He not only takes the WSJ article out of context, he then misquotes it.  Here is Rep Oberstar, bold type is mine-
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Recovery Act slowed the rate of economic decline in the second quarter of this year to just 1 percent. A growth rate of 3.3 percent is expected in the third quarter. Without the boost from the Recovery Act, Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius says that third-quarter growth would be zero. In northeast Minnesota, we are seeing the taconite industry begin to recover as plants open idled production lines. Activity in the steel industry is one of the surest signs of positive economic growth.
 But here is the story in the WSJ that he is referring to, again bold type is mine-
Many forecasters say stimulus spending is adding two to three percentage points to economic growth in the second and third quarters, when measured at an annual rate. The impact in the second quarter, calculated by analyzing how the extra funds flowing into the economy boost consumption, investment and spending, helped slow the rate of decline and will lay the groundwork for positive growth in the third quarter -- something that seemed almost implausible just a few months ago. Some economists say the 1% contraction in the second quarter would have been far worse, possibly as much as 3.2%, if not for the stimulus.
For the third quarter, economists at Goldman Sachs & Co. predict the U.S. economy will grow by 3.3%.
So instead of saying that the WSJ reported that some economists have said the stimulus is having an effect, Oberstar simply says that the WSJ says the stimulus is working.  That is not the same thing at all.

Worse than that is Oberstar's next claim-A growth rate of 3.3% is expected in the third quarter.  What the WSJ article actually said is that economists at Goldman and Sachs are predicting a growth rate of 3.3%.  Aside from the semantic difference between 'predicting' and 'expected', Oberstar presents the Goldman Sachs prediction as fact, rather than an educated guess.

And then there is one last parting shot-
It is easy for Steward and his fellow partisan naysayers to stand on the sidelines and criticize. However, I am staying focused on positive solutions that help working families and will restore prosperity to our economy.
The spiraling federal deficit and debt can only be brought under control by two ways; either massive tax increases that will kill that prosperous economy that Rep Oberstar claims to be focused on, or a sustained effort to cut government spending.  Considering that he voted in favor of cap and tax, supports Obamacare, and voted for Cash For Clunkers and Cash for Clunkers the sequel, it's pretty easy to see which of those two ways he will support for reducing the US debt.

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