11 Dec 2010 1:17
A theretofore charming day, spoiled in the blink of an eye, because I caught sight of the link “David Brooks: Obama’s Very Good Week” in the Times. Brooks isn’t known for sarcastic titles, and it’s been nobody’s good week in Washington. A $25,000,000,000 tax windfall (yes, 25 billion) for the richest 0.3% (yes, less than one third of one percent), and DADT, in particular.
I clicked, but I didn’t read the article. I’m trying hard not to read everything from start to finish that I know in advance will be crazymaking. I wasn’t about to backslide with the likes of Brooks, so I applied the How To Read a Ross Douthat Article approach.
The HTRaRDA approach is this: Type Control-End (preceded by SINGLE PAGE, if available) to reach the bottom of the article, and then read the last screenful. Do not pass Go! You will discover the offensive conclusion without wading through the invidious, lame, emetic screensful that invariably, insidiously, precede it.
Unfortunately, sometimes the insidious run-up extends into that last screenful, and it did today. It was impossible to ignore, because it included numbers.
Warning: The David Brooks quote below is a lie.
According to the most recent Gallup numbers, 67 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats support extending all the tax cuts.
Warning: The David Brooks quote above is a lie.
It was painful to follow up on this quote, but I’m still holding onto the belief that it would have been worse to have read Brooks in toto.
On December 1, Gallup reported that “Forty percent [of Americans] want Congress to maintain the tax cuts for everyone, while 44% support setting limits on how much of wealthy Americans’ income is eligible for the lower rates.” In particular, 18% of Democrats preferred keeping the tax cuts for everyone (when offered two alternatives: setting limits or letting the cuts expire entirely). Those can’t be the “most recent Gallup numbers” to which Brooks refers, because 18 doesn’t equal 52, even with rounding. (Maybe at the Times it does, but not on my blog.)
Here are the actual Gallup numbers to which Brooks refers. Over the past weekend, Gallup asked this question: “Suppose that on Election Day you could vote on key issues as well as candidates. Please tell me whether you would vote for or against a law that would do each of the following. Would you vote for or against a law that would extend the federal income tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 for all Americans for two years?” Fifty-two percent of the Democrats, 67% of independents, and 85% of Republicans surveyed said they would vote for such a law.¹
Quiz. Given three choices similar to those before Congress (A. extend cuts for all; B. extend cuts but only up to a dollar limit for the wealthy; C. let tax cuts expire), Democrat’s least preferred option is to extend all the tax cuts. (Breakdown: 18% answered A, 21% answered C, and 55% answered B). Is it fair to say that 52 percent of Democrats support extending all the tax cuts?
The correct answer is NO.
Kudos to Gallup for the careful and precise phrase to describe the option before Congress: “limits on how much of wealthy Americans’ income is eligible for the lower rates.”
Shame on Brooks for vulpigerating.
¹ I apologize for previously calling the Republican party the “Party of No.” I should have more precisely called them the “Party of No, except when it will make the rich richer.”