This presidential election cycle has turned into a sound bite debate. We no longer discuss actual solutions and policy but instead play on people’s prejudices with exaggerations and misrepresentations of slanted rhetoric.
One example of this is Mitt Romney’s efforts to deflect attention from his tax plan that runs counter to the preferences of the American people and raises taxes on the middle class and poor while simultaneously lowering taxes for the rich. The Romney camp has decided that rather than defend their plan, they would attack the president’s record – more specifically the stimulus package. Mitt Romney’s basic take is that the stimulus failed and he references a “number of empirical studies” as proof.
One big problem for Romney is that some of the authors of the studies he cites suggest that the Romney camp is misinterpreting their studies. Another problem for Romney is that fact that the two largest provisions and over a third of the total cost of the stimulus were tax cuts. So if the stimulus failed as Romney claims then it seems that tax cuts are not as stimulative as conservatives like to think yet tax cuts are the basis for Romney’s economic recovery plan.
But perhaps the biggest problem for Romney is the fact that there are considerably more empirical studies that show that the stimulus worked. And the paper that Romney is really hanging his hat on was authored by these men:
Kevin Hassett – Senior Fellow at the conservative think tank AEI, Chief economic advisor to John McCain in 2000, and economic advisor to George W. Bush in 2004 and John McCain again in 2008.
John Taylor – Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs and member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors for George W. Bush.
Greg Mankiw – Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for George W. Bush and current economic advisor to Mitt Romney.
Glenn Hubbard – Visiting scholar at AEI, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President George W. Bush, and economic advisor to Mitt Romney for both his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.
If bias is a reason to distrust information, then people should be skeptical of this report given that all of the authors are clearly supporting Mitt Romney and have a vested interest in making sure Barack Obama and his policies look bad.
The good news for Mitt Romney is that bias doesn’t inherently prove that a study and its conclusions are inaccurate. Having said that, the American people should be suspicious of a politician who uses a study authored by members of his own staff combined with misrepresentations of other studies, to prove that his conclusions are facts.