“Today it’s the fiscal cliff, but that surely will not be the end of it; next year it will be the fiscal mountain, after that the fiscal black hole, and after that fiscal Armageddon.”
And with those hyperbolic words, Gov. Bobby Jindal began digging a hole in a op-ed in Politico concerning the much-debated-about fiscal crisis facing the U.S. economy if the White House and Congress can’t hammer out a budget deal before year’s end — an op-ed that has been roundly criticized as impregnable proof that Gov. Jindal doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.
The thrust of the criticism, which began Thursday with a column by New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait titled, “Bobby Jindal Unclear on What Fiscal Cliff Is,” is that Jindal conflates the “fiscal cliff” with a spike in the national debt when in fact it is a too-rapid drawing down of the national debt that threatens the economy, and that Jindal’s call for a Balanced Budget Amendment is a potentially disastrous policy proposal.
Jindal makes this point with metaphorical language that would have Samuel Clemens beaming: “But the truth is Washington already drove us off the fiscal cliff while no one was looking. A nation that has a $16.3 trillion debt, a debt that is larger than our entire economy, has already driven through the guard rail and is in free fall with the cliff somewhere in the rear view mirror.”
Chait was echoed a few hours later by New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman (“The Fiscal Ignoramus Factor”) and The American Prospect’s Jamelle Bouie (“Bobby Jindal Makes a Splash with Terrible Ideas”). None is kind to Jindal.
Many of us have argued that “fiscal cliff” is a wildly overwrought metaphor to describe the contractionary effects of fiscal tightening that will be phased in gradually. Bobby Jindal, in an op-ed today, seems to think the metaphor is not overwrought enough. But it also appears that Jindal lacks any understanding of what the fiscal cliff is or why economists think it’s bad.Krugman:
You really have to wonder how someone who’s a major political figure could be this uninformed — but you have to wonder even more about the state of mind that induces you to write an op-ed about a subject you don’t comprehend at all.Bouie:
Does Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal hate America? It sounds harsh, but when you consider the actual effects of the policies he endorses in this Politico op-ed, it’s fair to wonder if he’s trying to provoke a combination economic/constitutional crisis.Read Jindal’s Politico op-ed here.