Would Calling Them "Lies" Have Made the Headline Too Short?

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I don't know how many people will break out laughing when seeing our Amazon Product du Jour. Note that it specifically refers to this election year.

James Freeman at the WSJ has a more accurate take: The Falsehoods Biden Keeps Telling.

Give President Joe Biden credit for consistency. For the entirety of his term he has relentlessly and falsely claimed that the economy was a shambles when he took office. His latest deceptions portray the raging inflation he did so much to inflict on Americans as a pre-existing condition. “For the second time in less than a week, President Joe Biden falsely claimed Tuesday that the inflation rate was 9% when he began his presidency,” writes CNN’s Daniel Dale. He adds:

Biden’s claim that the inflation rate was 9% when he became president is not close to true. The year-over-year inflation rate in January 2021, the month of his inauguration, was about 1.4%.The Biden-era inflation rate did peak at about 9.1% – but that peak occurred in June 2022, after Biden had been president for more than 16 months.

Not close to true is an apt description of the Biden economic message. Over the years some media folk have tried to portray Mr. Biden’s tall tales as evidence of grandfatherly charm. Folksy or not, he has been remarkably consistent in making false claims about the state of the economy when he took office.

I hate to disagree with Freeman, but "not close to true" is inapt, a much too euphemistic and wordy way to say "false".

More stuff they're lying about, according to the National Review editors: Biden’s Nonsensical China Tariffs.

Joe Biden’s announcement of new China tariffs is only the latest example of two trends in the Biden administration: talking tough on China but not following it up with meaningful policy, and bending over backward to appease organized labor.

Taxes will increase on imported steel, semiconductors, and electric vehicles and battery materials from China. The tariffs are being justified under the federal law that allows the president to respond to other countries’ unfair trade practices.

The White House says the tariffs will cover $18 billion worth of goods combined. That’s not nothing, but for perspective, $18 billion is equal to 4 percent of total U.S. imports of goods from China last year. Biden’s claims to be protecting American workers and businesses in general with such actions are hard to take seriously.

United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai tried to make a coherent case for imposing tariffs and managed to make the claim that the link between raising tariffs and increasing prices for the tariffed goods "has been largely debunked." Don Boudreaux is incredulous, and writes her an open letter:

This news is astonishing! It overturns 250 years of economic theory and evidence. You should immediately alert literally every author of economic textbooks – including the Nobel-laureate international-trade economist Paul Krugman – to inform them that their analyses of tariffs are wholly mistaken, because in all of these textbooks tariffs are shown to protect domestic producers only by raising the prices of protected goods and services.

Or she could have been lying.

Of course, much of this could be avoided with an informed electorate. What we have instead is… something else. Jeff Maurer notes the underlying problem: Voters Are Furious About Inflation, Demand Measures That Would Make Inflation Worse.

To make things worse: Both Trump and Biden are driving up the price of certain goods with tariffs largely because protectionism is popular. Biden just announced big tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles, semiconductors, and other products, which is the type of move that Joe Biden used to (rightly) criticize. To be fair, there are non-economic factors at play — this is being done partly to gain strategic advantage over China. But to also be fair: The main economic impact on Americans will be higher prices and less consumer choice. Trump is also promising big, new tariffs, and so is the brain worm that controls RFK Junior. American politics now resembles an episode of Love Island, in that just when you think “that is the dumbest person I’ve ever seen,” a new competitor shows up to blow your conceptions of what levels of dumb are possible out of the water.

Pollsters simply report what people say. It’s not their job to say “Respectfully, Jim from Flagstaff: You seem to lack the brains that God gave a bucket of pig dicks.” They’re just telling us what people think, and these polls probably accurately reflect what people really believe. And that’s the problem: The things that people say they care about and the solutions that people say they want don’t match.

Jeff goes on to claim "Biden is almost certainly the better choice for anyone who has inflation as their top priority." But, really, that's a stretch.

Also of note:

  • And yet, it's a gulag to which some people willingly consign themselves. Gary Saul Morson claims Marxism Is a Gulag of the Mind.

    The Marxist impulse is always to accuse your opponent of what you are doing or plan to do. It resembles what Freudians call “projection,” except that in Freudian theory projection happens outside the person’s awareness and is governed by an unconscious desire not to recognize one’s own intentions. For the leaders of Marxist and quasi-Marxist movements, the technique of accusing others of one’s own aggressive plans is entirely conscious. Call it “the political projection principle.”

    This principle is easiest to apply when the target really does seem unsavory, like Donald Trump. When he makes outrageous comments, spoils for a fight with his childish name-calling, or attracts attention by offensive suggestions and obnoxious exaggerations, Mr. Trump provokes people to approve of unprecedented tactics they never approved of before.

    The test of whether a person really believes in freedom is the readiness to protect the freedom of opponents. It’s easy to do when the opponent is mild and honorable, but what Democrat will rise to defend Mr. Trump? They accuse him of harboring authoritarian designs as they prosecute him in several courts so that he can’t campaign, must spend his money defending himself, and may find himself in prison before the voting starts. Arresting potential challengers is what former KGB operative Vladimir Putin routinely does. In Maine and Colorado, Democrats tried to keep the presumptive Republican nominee off the ballot entirely. Who exactly is undermining democracy?

    Morson also notes the, um, "phenomenon" of Keffiyehed Kollege Kids accusing Israel of "genocide", while leaving unmentioned the fact that the "Hamas charter explicitly calls for killing all Jews."

  • It provides myth comfort. Michael Cannon writes at Cato on The Myth of the Free-Market US Health Sector.

    Rena Conti, Richard Frank, and David Cutler recently published a very useful piece in the New England Journal of Medicine under the title, “The Myth of the Free Market for Pharmaceuticals.” Conti, Frank, and Cutler shatter the common myths that the United States has “largely unregulated prices” for medical care (Los Angeles Times) or is “one of the only developed countries where health care is left mostly to the free market” (The Economist).

    The authors detail multiple ways that government intervenes in and distorts the pharmaceutical market and conclude, “The net effect of these deviations from the free‐market ideal is that prices are high.” When drug manufacturers like Merck claim, “Congress has long been committed to a free‐market approach based on market‐driven prices,” these producers are merely trying to protect the government interventions that let them charge higher prices than would prevail in a free market.

    This problem is not unique to the pharmaceutical industry but pervades the entire US health sector. In the new Cato Institute book The War on Prices (release date May 14), I contribute a chapter with the title, “Government Price Fixing Is the Rule in U.S. Health Care.” I explain that—contrary to industry propaganda that holds government price controls only result in inefficiently low prices—US medical prices are often high because government controls them. For example, “studies conducted in the USA generally conclude that price setting by a regulator…improved hospital financial stability.”

    Remember that the next time the hospital lobby comes calling.

    I promise.

  • Anonymously yours. An interesting point/counterpoint works itself out in the pages of Caltech's student newspaper, on the topic of whether to reinstate the SAT/ACT requirement for undergrad applicants. An anonymous contributor (apparently an ex-student) chides the signers of a recent petition advocating for reinstatement: You Can and Should Do Better, Faculty Members.

    No excerpt, just wanted to point it out. I think it's clear who has the better argument.