Krugman Slams Newsweek's "Unethical" Obama-Bashing Cover

The first thing you need to know about Newsweek's latest cover story, "Hit the Road Barack": it was written by Niall Ferguson, a professor at Harvard University who was on the losing end of his 2008 advisorship to Republican presidential nominee John McCain. Though he discloses as much, his piece seems like a little bit like a conflict of interest , particularly considering how much untruthful information Ferguson reports. Paul Krugman points out oneof the most glaring of Fergusons accusations—that health care is going to hurt the budget:



                  The president pledged that health-care reform would not add a cent to the deficit. But the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation now estimate            that the insurance-coverage provisions of the ACA will have a net cost of close to $1.2 trillion over the 2012–22 period.

Readers are no doubt meant to interpret this as saying that CBO found that the Act will increase the deficit. But anyone who actually read, or even skimmed, the CBO report (pdf) knows that it found that the ACA would reduce, not increase, the deficit — because the insurance subsidies were fully paid for.

Now, people on the right like to argue that the CBO was wrong. But that’s not the argument Ferguson is making — he is deliberately misleading readers, conveying the impression that the CBO had actually rejected Obama’s claim that health reform is deficit-neutral, when in fact the opposite is true.

It goes on like that, in a piece so glaringly flagrant that even British gossip site the Daily Mail was disturbed by how far it reached. One thing Krugman doesn't note, however: Ferguson makes the stomach-turning assertion that only half of Americans actually pay taxes, whereas the other half, he implies, lives off welfare and other government benefits. Though Ferguson is employed by the most presitigious academic institution in the country, he is spewing unfounded, non-factual numbers that have a direct root in Tea Party hysteria and Fox News "reporting" when in reality, about all of the country's citizens pay about 40 percent in taxes across the board. AlterNet's Joshua Holland, in 2010:


The idea that most working people don't pay taxes -- an incredibly popular talking-point on the right -- is the product of a rather easy-to-understand Big Lie.

You simply pretend that the most progressive tax in the United States, the federal income tax, is the only tax that Americans pay. You move the goal-posts, beginning the discussion with a statement of fact -- 'many people pay no federal income taxes' -- and then shifting to an egregious falsehood: 'many people pay no taxes.' It's a simple but incredibly effective lie of omission.

Meanwhile, Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog points outthat Ferguson even lies about himself in his own article, asserting that he was a "good loser" in 2008 when Obama bested McCain: 

But Ferguson wasn't a good loser in 2008. If you go to the article he's quoting -- a piece he wrote for The Daily Mail on the day after the election -- you see that he claimed to no longer have anything to do with that loser McCain, because, conveniently, he'd switched allegiances to the guy who won (mawkishly so, as I'll explain below): [...]

Obama had just won, and here was Ferguson claiming to be on his side. If Bob Dylan's "Positively 4th Street" has popped into your head -- particularly the line "You just want to be on the side that's winning" -- well, join the club.

Not only did Ferguson declare himself an Obama man in that 2008 article, he portrayed himself as the weepiest, gushiest white friend black people have ever had.

Ew, Niall Ferguson. And shame on Tina Brown for running this pap for page views. Hire some fact checkers.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at August 20, 2012, 10:56am