Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Retrospectoscope

Retrospectoscope (n):
1.) an imaginary tool used to view one's past actions in the nicest possible light
2.) a convenient device for shifting blame

Mr. Rogers has been a busy guy in the last few weeks, what with voting against health care for poor kids and vigorously defending his vote with a froth of inaccurate talking points, giving unsolicited and ill-advised budget advice to Michigan lawmakers, taking credit for literacy programs he didn't create, and of course banging the drums about The Looming Iranian Threat.

Thankfully, his retrospectoscope is all tuned up and ready to go. In his latest application of that marvelous device, he wrote a guest column for Sunday's Press & Argus titled, "Taxes grow government, not economy." In it, he opined
When I served in the Michigan Senate, we cut taxes and reformed government, making Michigan, in the mid-1990s, the top state for job creation and among the lowest in unemployment. Contrast that with today, when Michigan has staggering job losses and one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
Actually, Mr. Rogers, your votes in the Michigan Senate led to a multimillion-dollar deficit. Over at Michigan Liberal, HazenPingree reminds us of a time

Back when SUVs were selling like crack cocaine and Michigan was flush with cash (relatively speaking), John the Body [Gov. Jon Engler] and his allies in the Republican-controlled legislature thought it would be fun to cut Michigan's income tax rate from 4.4 percent to 3.9 percent. But they didn't have the chutzpah to do it all at once. Instead, they opted to phase it in...over 5 years.

No prizes for guessing who supported this time-bomb tax cut: Mike Rogers.

Mr. Rogers goes on to blame the Democrats in Washington for approving "billions in new spending," but he neglects to mention that Republicans controlled both the Congress and the White House during his first three terms in office. The explosive growth of the U.S. budget and current account deficits started waaay back in 2000 -- long before the Democrats took office ten months ago.

In a virtuoso display of retrospectoscope use, Rogers regurgitates a Tax Foundation factoid stating that Michigan has the 14th highest tax burden in the country. Well, not only is the Tax Foundation ranking incorrect according to the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB ranked Michigan 26th), but it's also incorrect according to the Tax Foundation itself. The non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes that the TF is a member of the Retrospectoscope Varsity team:

Between the 2002 Tax Foundation report and the 2005 revision, the ranking by state and local tax burden of 24 states changed by at least five places, and in 13 states the rankings changed by at least 10 places.

Bottom line? Mike Rogers can quote the Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and right-wing think tanks to his heart's content, but it won't change the fact that lot of bad economic decisions have been made on his watch.


Anonymous said...

How many times have government projections of revenue been wrong? Based on your logic, CBO numbers shouldn't be trusted. And speaking of the Census Bureau: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/66207.php

rich said...

So revising down the number of uninsured in this country for 46 million to 44 million means the Census Bureau shouldn't be trusted? First, they corrected themselves. Second, nearly 2 million less doesn't make the problem a whole lot smaller. 44 million people out of 300 million is a high percentage of people without medical coverage.