Two years ago today, Damian Paletta interviewed Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. And in that interview, they said that a destabilizing fiscal crisis was coming in—Wait for it!—two years. Okay, they actually used a weasel word. The exact quote is, “The U.S. could face a destabilizing fiscal crisis in two years or even sooner.” In truth, the US could face an alien attack sometime this afternoon. But in saying that, it is clear that this is an unlikely occurrence. The Bowles-Simpson claim is meant to imply that the crisis is coming and that two years is the longest that it would take.
It is two years later. Want to know what the status of that crisis is? The government can now borrow money for half the interest rate it could when they said it. But the terrible thing is not that they made this prediction and it turned out to be wrong. The terrible thing is that they’ve been making these predictions for years, they are always wrong, and yet the mainstream media and politicians from all sides still treat them as oracles.
What I think is interesting is that it is standard in journalism to note who a lobbyist works for. If someone is lobbying for a gun manufacturer, it is understood that this might affect his thinking on increased background checks. But in the case of people like Bowles-Simpson and the many other deficit fear groups, the media treat them as objective truth tellers. But they aren’t. These groups are best thought of as good old fashioned conservatives. Above all else, they want to cut funding for Social Security and Medicare and reduce tax rates.
Again, I can’t help but quote Matt Yglesias:
These people are always wrong when it comes to what they claim to be doing. But given it is just a smokescreen, that isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that so many people don’t see that. To do my part, I will here after refer to these guys as Republican lobbyists Bowles-Simpson.
Note: Yglesias was specifically talking about Fix the Debt, not Bowles-Simpson, but it equally applies.