Friday, January 11, 2013

Can you catch what's wrong with this graph?

A week ago I pointed out that Republicans like Sen. McConnell are hoping we'll forget that the work that's been done so far on reducing the federal deficit included more spending cuts than tax increases. That's why I was glad that the Center for American Progress did such a good job of pointing out that the 10 year projected deficit has been reduced by $2.4 trillion in the last 2 years.

But I wonder if you can catch what's wrong with this graph they used?

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Last time I checked, three-quarters equaled 75% - not 62%. The only way you get to three-quarters is if you consider interest savings to be the same thing as spending cuts...which is ludicrous. The truth is that spending cuts have accounted for a little less than two-thrids of the deficit reduction.

That isn't nearly as egregious of a misrepresentation as the one Sen. McConnell was trying to pull off in the other direction - forgetting completely about the savings that have been captured so far. But we don't need overblown hyperbole to make a point.

15 comments:

  1. Wow, good call, Ms. Pants. I hope the graph is promptly fixed. And you're right -- why risk the damage that hyperbole might do to the message when the plain reality is compelling enough?

    --Beulahmo

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    1. I caught it because - of course - the poutragers picked up on the "3/4 of all deficit reduction has been spending cuts" as something to rage about.

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  2. It's neither conspiracy nor incompetence. Spending obligations plus interest are both above the line budget items.

    3:1 cuts+interest:revenue or 2.4:1 cuts:revenue if you leave interest out of the calculation. What's the problem?

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    1. Just because spending and interest are both above the line doesn't make them the same thing.

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    2. You don't like people saying the deal is unbalanced? Well, it is. There aren't 2:1 cuts:revenues. There also aren't 3:1 cuts:revenues. But there are 2.4x as many cuts enacted by law as expected tax revenues. The end.

      The CAP guy wasn't even making a moral/stategic/political statement. He didn't question the President's intellect or his progressiveness or his manhood, he was just describing the law as it exists. Stop living in a state of permanent internet warfare.

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    3. If you were to actually read what I said - you'd see that I mentioned how much I appreciate that CAP did a good job of pointing out some important information. But they got the 3/4 thing wrong. If you think that means "living in a state of permanent internet warfare," I'll just respectfully disagree and point out that you are free to spend your time elsewhere on the internet.

      By the way...when PBO talks about a balanced approach, he's been pretty clear that he's talking 2:1 (spending to revenue). He's not quite there - but close.

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    4. I'm glad you're willing to admit that this is all an exercise in propaganda to defend an arbitrary (and meaningless) definition of "balance" because the President is UNDER ATTACK!!! by...somebody...somewhere.

      But no, you're totally not beset by a mindset of permanent conflict. Keep the faith and pass the ammo, there's emoprogs (or whatever they're being called these days) on the warpath.

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  3. Er....Anon, Ms. Pants was just pointing out the inconsistency in the Center's own graph and its title. And you yourself said that "the CAP guy wasn't even making a moral/stategic (sic)/political statement..." So...somehow her pointing out a simple error is simultaneously an instance of her not liking "people saying the deal is unbalanced..."? ::scratches head:: It's almost like you have a drama going on inside your head that the rest of us can't see.

    As for your accusation that she's "living in a state of permanent internet warfare," I'd have to say that involves a whole lot of (invisible to most of us) drama that's in your own head too. I've read this blog pretty regularly over the last couple of years, and though her style is openly personal and emotional (I happen to love that), her interpretations of the *some* members of the activist-left's relationship with President Obama are carefully balanced with sincere introspection and openness to others' authentic, good-faith, respectful rebuttals. If you care to be patient and observant, you might find that her insights and predictions, over time, usually hit the mark.

    --Beulahmo

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    1. I caught it because - of course - the poutragers picked up on the "3/4 of all deficit reduction has been spending cuts" as something to rage about.

      Your defense of her is frankly embarrassing. As is the fact that you typed (sic) in a blog comment section to...one up me? Discredit me? That missing 'r' sure is worth fixating on.

      When you spend money on interest payments, you're spending money. You can say that's double counting (it also relies on projected interest rates, which if the analysts could actually predict, they should leave government and become billionaires) and leave it in its own separate category and that's fine, but CAP neither "made an error" nor is deceiving anyone.

      Enjoy your continued war with the unnamed poutragers (who are already "raging" apparently) whom this is clearly all about. Why do you even care if the final arrangement is strictly "balanced" or "unbalanced" or whatever? Why are cuts to DHS and Medicare providers liberal concessions in the first place?

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    2. Oh, for crying out loud, Anon. Interest savings are NOT viewed in the same way as programmatic spending CUTS, and that's why the Center for American Progress has them distinguished from each other. That's also why its fucking *obvious* that there's no intentional deception on their part (and it's ridiculous to assert that Smartypants was implying that), but it's also obvious that the damned title on the graph doesn't match the description of information within it.

      --Beulahmo

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    3. You two are whining about an anodyne budgetary classification in a PR piece that isn't even directed at you. Who do you think the audience is for that CAP article? Debt hawks who need to bludgeoned in the head with how "serious" the administration has been in cutting spending! Not you.

      You don't see the political benefit in putting interest payments (whose only beneficiaries are debt holders, and not the general public) as equal spending cuts to actual government programs? It's cutting spending without touching benefits or services. The administration itself will promote this 3:1 fiction as far as the eye can see for this very reason. All so they can pursue their true agenda: taxing the 1% and addressing inequality.

      But no, you're living in a state of permanent warfare with something called a "poutrager" which you are fixated on above all else (even though you don't seem to respect them one iota, so why the fixation?). Because the poor president just has so many mean people attacking him for selling out on taxes or whatever, and it's all very critical to protect the shield 24/7. Find some perspective.

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    4. Anon, what the FUCK are you talking about? Jesus Christ, you really didn't follow along with the original point Smartypants was making, did you? She was comparing the good info provided in the CAP analysis with the bullshit McConnell has been belching out. So, YEAH, we get it. We understood the whole purpose of the chart and its benefits from the beginning, even without your condescending but GENIUS guidance.

      The ONLY reason Smartypants's even made the comment about the "3/4 of all deficit reduction has been spending cuts" wording was because she KNEW it would draw the predictable caustic crap from perpetually pissed-off lefties; and sure enough, on cue, YOU showed up with your condescending nitpicking.

      YOU are the one who has reacted to a simple FYI blog post and hauled in an assload of presumptions and made a big deal of it, you self-oblivious twit.

      I'm done arguing with you. This is beyond stupid.

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  4. Aren't these "spending cuts" the same sequestration cuts that just got kicked down the road? Last I checked, all the deficit reduction talk is just that. Let's raise taxes now but promise that the spending cuts happen sometime in the future because it's political suicide to make major cuts now. I think spending dropped by 1or 2% last year. Yippee.

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  5. Ask a homeowner if a mortgage refi that cuts interest payments helps him get out of debt because it reduces his monthly spending, and he will likely say "YES." Spending on interest is spending. Cutting spending on interest payments is much better than cutting spending on social programs. Is smartypants advocating we should cut spending on social programs to get to 75% by her definition? I don't get this tirade.

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