SYNOPSIS: Why are Krugman's articles partisan? Because the administration's policy arguments are so rampantly dishonest. The Democrats are powerless, so why beat a dead horse?
I gather, from reading MediaWhoresOnline, that some group has pronounced me highly “partisan”. Here are my thoughts on all that:
Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that the Bush administration was, in a fundamental way, being dishonest about its economic plans. Suppose that the numbers used to justify the tax cut were clearly bogus, and that the plan was in fact obviously a budget-buster. Suppose that the Social Security reform plan simply ignored the system’s existing obligations, and thus purported to offer something for nothing. Suppose that the Cheney energy report deliberately misstated the nature of the country’s actual energy problems, and used that misstatement to justify subsidies to the energy industry.
Suppose also that I found myself writing an economics column as these plans were being sold – and that I was a highly competent economist, if I say so myself. Suppose that as an economist able to do my own analysis, not obliged to rely on conflicting quotes from the usual suspects, I was in a position to spot right away that some of the stuff being peddled made no sense - and clued in enough to get hold of experts who could tell me what was wrong with the other stuff. Suppose that I had been repeatedly proved right in my critiques of the Bush administration’s assertions, even in cases where nobody else in the media was willing to take my criticisms seriously – for example, suppose that, because I understand microeconomics a lot better than your average columnist, I realized that economists who said that California’s electricity crisis had a lot to do with market manipulation were probably right, more than a year before conventional wisdom was willing to contemplate the possibility.
In this hypothetical situation, what sort of columns should I have been writing? Does the ideal of “nonpartisanship” mean that I should have mixed my critiques of Bush policies with praise, or with attacks on the hapless, ineffectual Democrats, just for the sake of perceived balance? Given what I knew to be the truth, would that even have been ethical?
I’ve reported; you decide.
Originally published on Paul Krugman's official site, 5.14.02