Sunday, July 24, 2011

What is it about Michael Kinsley that leads him to so totally misunderstand and/or misrepresent the topic(s) on which he writes?

Today's example is his column in which he claims that refusing to raise the debt limit involves not honoring our obligation to pay the debt the country has run up. Kinsley claims that not raising the debt limit is akin to telling your bank that you're not going to pay your mortgage.

But... it isn't and it doesn't.

Refusing to raise the debt limit means not agreeing to take on any more debt, it doesn't mean that the country won't honor the debt that has already been incurred. Not a single opponent of raising the debt limit is in favor of not paying the debt that has been borrowed.

To use Kinsley's analogy - but correctly - they're willing to pay off the mortgage, what they don't want to do is run up more charges on yet another credit card and fall even further into debt (could Kinsley really be arguing that people who are seriously in debt and whose incomes don't cover their living expenses ought to go out and get another credit card?)

Kinsley also plays games by claiming that the country has "fallen into the classic debtor’s trap of borrowing to pay the interest on previous borrowings".

But that's not totally true either. One could just as easily (and also misleadingly) claim that tax receipts are sufficient to cover debt service, that we're borrowing to finance current period spending. The fact is that the federal government brings in lots and lots of money every month... obviously not enough to pay for everything but sufficient to pay for any single category of spending, whether it be interest payments, national defense, social security and medicare, or whatever.

But depicting federal finances and spending in this way doesn't help Kinsley in trying to portray as childish and irresponsible those who are opposed to raising the debt ceiling.

So what is it with Kinsley? Is he really clueless? Or just a liberal partisan distorting the facts in order to make his argument seem more responsible?