The Case Against Raising Interest Rates Is Simple, Despite WaPo’s Efforts to Confuse It

Unemployed workers (photo: Michael Raphael/FEMA)

The question here is pretty simple, in spite of Robert Samuelson’s efforts to sow confusion. There is very little plausible benefit from raising interest rates and slowing the economy at a point where the economy is far below its potential by almost any measure.


Robert Samuelson’s ‘Golden Age’ Mythology

The Golden Age, Lucas Cranach the Elder

Robert Samuelson says if we had kept up the rates of productivity growth we had until 1973, it would have mattered much more to middle-income families’ living standards than the rise in inequality since 1980. This is true in the sense of “if I were six feet five inches, I would be taller than I am,” but it’s not clear what we should make of the point.


WaPo Bemoans a Climate Debate It Helped ‘Devolve’

Sarah Palin (cc photo: David Shankman)

The paper’s editorial page has a new focus on fighting climate change. But will it keep publishing climate nonsense?


Jack Lew, One More Anti-Business Obama Appointee


Republicans and various right-wing commentators have had a thing for talking about the supposedly “anti-business” tilt of the Obama administration. It’s never made much sense–and it doesn’t make any more sense now that pundits are reacting to news that Obama will tap his current chief of staff Jack Lew to be his next Treasury secretary.


Samuelson’s Social Security Screed

Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson really doesn’t like Social Security and Medicare. And he’ll go a long way to argue that they’re wasteful, inefficient forms of welfare. (See Extra!, 10/11.) But his arguments rarely hold up. His most recent column (4/9/12) is no exception; in fact, it recycles a totally misleading factoid from a column he wrote last year. Samuelson’s column has problems from top to bottom–you can read Dean Baker’s dismantling of it at his Beat the Press blog: There is no trust fund, benefits cuts are necessary and inevitable, there are too many retirees supported by not very […]


Money Rules Politics? Robert Samuelson Busts That ‘Myth’

It’s possible that someone could write a column arguing that efforts to restrict the influence of big money on our political system do more harm than good. Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson tried to pull it off on Monday (2/20/12), but the results were pretty ugly. You don’t need to read the whole column. All you need to read is his “Myth One,” which appears about halfway through the piece: Myth One: The rich and corporate interests rule government through campaign contributions and lobbying. This is absurd. In 2009, $2.1 trillion (60 percent) of federal spending went for “payments for […]


Robert Samuelson: We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Old

When your column is headlined “It’s the Elderly, Stupid,” I guess readers should know what to expect. Robert Samuelson delivers in today‘s Washington Post (a column that will appear elsewhere around the country, unfortunately), in a nasty diatribe about the kind of debt debate he thinks the country should be having–one that blames older people: Older Americans do not intend to ruin America, but as a group, that’s what they’re about. On average, the federal government supports each American 65 and over by about $26,000 a year (about $14,000 through Social Security, $12,000 through Medicare). At 65, the average American […]


Robert Samuelson Attacks–and Engages in–‘Soundbite Economics’

Newsweek columnist Robert Samuelson (9/18/10) has had it with the way we discuss economics: With every election, we descend into soundbite economics. Rhetorical claims grow more partisan and self-serving…. These debates confirm the dreary state of economic discourse. He points his finger at both the right and the left, but then goes on to basically endorse the right-wing critique of Obama’s policies–as in, “Confidence is crucial to stimulating consumer spending and business investment, and Obama constantly subverts confidence.” As an example, Samuelson writes that “the moratorium on deepwater drilling kills jobs.” It’s refreshing tosee that he’s not stoopingtopartisan soundbites! A […]


WaPo Pundit: Mass Transit Good for Others, Not U.S.

“Robert Samuelson Doesn’t Like Trains” is what Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 8/24/09) takes to be “the unifying theme from his column today, since his arguments against high-speed rail do not make a lot of sense.” In his August 24 broadside against what he dubs Barack Obama’s “Rail Boondoggle,” Samuelson trots out the tired argument against “almost $35 billion in subsidies into Amtrak” that “the federal government has poured” in the last four decades–with the usual corporate pundit omissions, like the fact that, as long ago as 1994 it was determined that “hidden subsidies for drivers amount to well over […]


Robert Samuelson, Not an Economist

Washington Post/Newsweek economics columnist Robert Samuelson was recently out plugging his new book at an event recorded by C-SPAN. Samuelson began his remarks (watch the video here, at the 4:20 mark) by saying: I am not an economist. I’m a journalist. And so that anything I say that seems contradictory to what a freshman in college would learn in your basic Principles of Economics course, I should be absolved of any sin for that, because as I say I am not a card-carrying member of the fraternity. No one is asking Samuelson to be an economist. But it sounds like […]


Robert Samuelson’s Not-To-Do List

Today’s column by Robert Samuelson (Washington Post, 12/1/08) is a classic of the “why the president-elect must break progressive campaign promises” genre. Usually, of course, the new president should keep such promises: Obama won the election, and in normal times, his campaign agenda ought to be front and center. But these are not normal times, and what’s most important now–as he repeatedly emphasizes–is to prevent the recession from feeding on itself. And you do that, inevitably, by making sure not to do anything that makes corporations nervous. Any program to refashion the energy and healthcare sectors–to take two obvious candidates–would […]