Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Political fantasies

This is Joseph.

Inspired by Mar's post yesterday, I wanted to mention the current trend of political arguments that lack any basis in reality.  At the moment, examples include:

Brexit and the Northern Irish border.  This was a major complication of leaving the European Union, foreseeable at the time of the referendum, and it seems to continue to be a case where politicians would rather pretend that the problem does not exist

The second is Howard Schultz and comprehensive tax reform.  Let me outsource to Paul Krugman:

The idea that we will solve complex problems without specific plans makes for a nice talking point but really does not advance the discussion. 

The irony is that this has led to a new round of attacks on people who do have actual plans.  From Matt Yglesias:

I mean things like Medicare for all are hard because they either require new investments of cash (in a country terrified of raising taxes) or the imposition of some sort of improved efficiency in a health case system with high prices (meaning somebody will lose).  This is awkward and it is true that this piece needs to be addressed.  But that things like free college with an actual offset are being attacked is more concerning -- the viable plans are being attacked for not having pieces they actually have.  Meanwhile, there is much less concern about plans absent entirely of details. 

I will note, in conclusion, the insight that you might have to make very hard decisions is very different than choosing not to make any decisions at all.  Brexit sounds less sexy if it comes paired with a border problem and comprehensive tax reform is meaningless without specifics, and it is only a viable plan if there was a way to resolve this from the beginning. 

Here is a place where reporters really could make a difference.   

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