The only polls that matter

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 28, 2003

Are those held on the first Tuesday of November every two years. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman offers a preview of tonight's State of the Union speech, and declares it lacking.

Krugman points to polls showing that support for Bush has "plunged over the last two months."

He continues:

A year ago he was, indeed, immensely popular; right now he's not significantly more popular than he was before Sept. 11.

Other polls suggest that the public is particularly disenchanted with Mr. Bush's economic policy. Most voters no longer believe that his tax cuts are effective at creating jobs, and many also believe that his policies favor the wealthy and large corporations, rather than people like themselves. (Class warfare!)

Yeah, can we go back to that "there is no liberal media bias" argument again? People believe that crap because that's all the media harps on. No mention (with the exception of once on Fox News Sunday two weeks ago and the unfortunately-named "lucky ducky" editorial in the Wall Street Journal) is made that Bush's plan also has the effect of removing even more of the poor from the tax rolls. No mention is made that the tax system would be even more progressive if Bush's tax plan was passed.

Of course, in the short term it has the effect of increasing the federal budget deficit, but remember how we made the deficit disappear last time. The economy grew at such a rate that, as hard as this may be to believe, the government was unable to spend money fast enough to keep up with rising tax revenues.

When the economy kicks into gear again (and cheap oil from a newly-freed Iraq will certainly help) the rich, who are the biggest beneficiaries of the tax break now, will end up paying an even larger percentage of the federal income tax as the money starts rolling in.

Krugman, never one to come up with a new tune when it comes to people who disagree with his economic theory, assails the Bush pick to replace Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill (who, in Krugman's opinion had no credibility) with John Snow, who Krugman believes has no credibility (if he tows the Bush administration line).

The administration's credibility problem is made worse by the high casualty rate among top economic officials, and the uninspiring quality of their replacements. Today is the first day of hearings for John Snow, the administration's choice for Treasury secretary. One official I spoke to was rueful: "I thought Paul O'Neill wasn't suited to being Treasury secretary; he'd have been better off running a railroad. Now they've picked a man who ran a railroad."

But that's not why he was chosen, according to CBS Market Watch: "He was picked because he's a lobbyist, a schmoozer, a master salesman" ? and a member of no less than nine country clubs.

Still, nobody razzle-dazzles 'em like Mr. Bush. Tonight we'll see if he's good enough to make us forget last year's promises.

The latest line of class warfare attack: Now you don't even have to be a member of an all-male country club before you're some sort of robber baron -- any country club will do.

Of course, the last thing anyone wants in the Treasury Secretary's post is someone who can sell the administration's policy. Are serious-thinking people really supposed to be surprised by this job requirement? Or maybe Krugman's worried it will be successful. Then he'll actually have to find a new idea when it comes time to write his twice-weekly column.


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January 2003



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