Letter: Journalist Turned True Believer

To the Editor:

It seems a shame when a respected conservative economic journalist loses it, but Caroline Baum’s dyspeptic attack on President Obama (“The More Obama Discusses Economics, the Less He Seems to Know,” Aug. 9) bears examination.

She seems to resent both the president’s facility with words and ideas, but her irritation is at its most intense when Obama is clearly correct. She calls his definition of “what it means to be middle class in America: a good job, a good education, a home of one’s own, a secure retirement and affordable health care” a platitude. Really? The great American dream is a platitude, Ms. Baum? You may be safely in the one-percentile bubble, but you clearly understand the middle class rather less than the president does.

She then attacks (somewhat prematurely?) what she takes to be President Obama’s opposition to the Keystone Pipeline on the grounds that a speculative 42,000 jobs on top of 3,900 temporary construction jobs are worth it (she doesn’t seem to worry about the environmental impact) when only 50 permanent jobs will be created. She goes on to attack the “White House stimulus” not so much because it didn’t work (it did) but because it is not a private sector initiative but a government one.

The mask slips a little more as she attacks the idea of “building from the middle class out” and (for some obscure reason calls “grow the economy” a “horrific phrase”) in favor of affirming that “the path of wealth creation is top down” — and this, five years into the biggest top-down created recession since the Depression?

There’s more, including an attempt to claim economic evidence that “income inequality contributed to the bubble” as somehow the poor had, or were being offered, any other choice but life on credit.

She even ends on the suggestion (which we might, in our turn, call a platitude) that “unless the federal government finds a way to raise revenue and/or cut spending . . . there will be steep cuts to the social safety net.” You can almost hear her cheering. It’s a pity this sometime objective journalist now appears to have swallowed the GOP and Tea Party Kool-Aid.

Ib Bellew



Column: The More Obama Discusses Economics, the Less He Seems to Know

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The president may be out of ideas, but he is never out of words. He has been sharing voluminous amounts of them with audiences over the last two weeks on his latest speaking tour, or pivot, on the economy. And for good reason. “If once a week I’m not talking about jobs, the economy and the middle class, then all …