Monday, December 31, 2012

False Equivalence

Krugman's column today is an important one.  While ostensibly about Starbucks C.E.O. Howard Schultz's self-insertion into the fiscal cliff debate what Krugman is really after, besides outing the faux non-partisan Fix The Debt organization as a front group for prominent conservative and Blackstone co-founder Pete Peterson, is an illumination of the pervasive practice of false equivalence.

False equivalence as practiced by pundits featured in the mainstream media (like Tom Brokaw on yesterday's "Meet the Press") is the operating assumption that both parties are ideologically rigid and unwilling to compromise when the actual daily reporting — the historical record — is clear that it is one party, the Republican Party, particularly after the 2010 midterm elections, that is guilty of this.  This from today's Jennifer Steinhauer synopsis of the numerous fiscal showdowns of the last two years that led up to the cliff: "But a fundamental ideological chasm between the majority of lawmakers and an empowered group of Congressional Republicans — fueled by some Tea Party victories in both chambers in 2010 — has made it more difficult than ever to reach fiscal and budgetary compromises."

A reading of Jonathan Weisman's story today about the ongoing negotiations in the Senate reinforces the idea that it is foremost the Republican Party that is seeking to jam the process and foment discord:
Much of the umbrage was oddly discordant. Mr. Obama has long advocated for a permanent fix to the alternative minimum tax, which must be “patched” each year to keep it from applying to middle-income families. Until this weekend, both Democrats and Republicans appeared willing to let the across-the-board cuts take effect, at least temporarily, while a larger deficit deal is negotiated early next year.

Indeed, many Republicans were the loudest in protesting the cuts. Now that Democrats want them canceled, Republicans equate that position to raising taxes in order to spend more.

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