Ben Benen at Washington Monthly and the latest in leftist Gotcha Politics

by Conservative Generation for Left Coast Rebel

Behold, the latest in gotcha politics via Steve Benen! I had long been wondering what would happen to Bush Derangement Syndrome once Bush left office. I had hoped, though doubted, that those affected would merely go catatonic without their favorite object to scorn. Instead, BDS morphed into Palin Derangement Syndrome and more recently, Tea Party Derangement Syndrome. David Barstow marginalized the Tea Party, so did the LA Times, now Steve Benen is writing about a poll conducted by David Frum regarding the Tea Party’s knowledge of taxes.

Steve Benen writes of the results:

“Bruce added that “it’s a bad idea for so many participants to operate on the basis of false notions.” It is, indeed. We’re talking about a reasonably large group of people who seem to have no idea what they’re talking about, revel in their own ignorance, and nevertheless seek an active role in the process.”

Really Steve? Most of the questions were about general tax knowledge, which biases the results since they were administered to a group of people protesting tax policy. Below is a list of the questions:

1) In approximate percentage terms, how much is the U.S. (federal) government currently taking out of the U.S. economy in taxation?

2) Do you think this is more or less than before Obama?

3) How much federal income tax do you think a typical family earning $50,000 pays dollars)?

4) How many years of US oil consumption do you think we could extract by opening entire Alaska wildlife reserve (based on present rates of consumption)?

5) Compared to other countries, how do you think the U.S. ranks in the world for life expectancy?

6) Do you think the general economic situation in the country is improving or deteriorating as compared to one year ago?
7) Is your personal economic situation, better, worse or the same as two years ago?

First of all, Steve Benen was too busy writing up his derisive piece about taxes to actually read the results of the survey:

“There were no questions in the survey about health care policy, but it stands to reason that these same folks are basing their opposition to the Democratic plan based on little more than confusion.”

Question number 5 in the survey was about health care, which according to Benen is the same as policy. So, by Steve’s own logic, we shouldn’t be listening to him since he is clearly not knowledgeable about the survey.

The first two questions are essentially gotcha questions, since the answers for the last two years are skewed lower because of the recession. They have nothing to do with what the everyday taxpayer is paying and little to do with Bush or Obama’s tax policies, which makes question #2 particularly biased since it is looking for a comparison. The bias is blatantly evident when you read Bruce Bartlett’s write up on the same survey in Forbes magazine:

Not everyone follows these numbers closely, and Tea Partiers may have been thinking of figures from a few years ago, before the recession when taxes were higher.

Bartlett himself is confused about taxes, since taxes were not “higher” over the last few years. Instead, the taxes were lower than they had been in 30 years. Since we are in a recession and tax revenue is based primarily on income and many people are not working and receiving an income, tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is lower. Barlett also refers to Obama’s tax credits as the same as tax cuts. They are not synonymous!

Great gotcha piece Steve, but who cares? You’ve proven that most of the Tea Partiers will not make it on jeopardy. Most American’s can relate; including yourself and your pal Bruce Bartlett.

As far as actual differences in tax policy between Bush and Obama? This is what the Tea Party is protesting and they are far from imaginary:

Obama’s budget was recently passed in Washington, which shows plans to massively increase taxes

We are on the eve of a Health Care Vote that will dramatically increase taxes and fees

Obama has already increased taxes for all income levels despite his campaign pledges

On a side note: I think a similar survey should be given to Moveon.org and SEIU protesters, but with questions about profit margins of health insurance companies, percent of denied health care claims of private versus public insurance plans, and percent of taxes paid by the top ten percent of wage earners as a percentage of overall income tax inlays.

Via Memeorandum


For the left that doesn’t understand how the senate health care bill works, here is a fairly honest assessment from the left leaning blog Firedoglake. As you will see, the bill is hardly everything the Democratic leadership is heralding and probably way less than you were informed.

Fire Dog Lake – Health Care Bill Myths


Spinsterpov said…

And I'm sure "too much" was not an option for the participants to choose. I don't have to know exactly how much the government is taking out of the economy in taxes to know that it's more than it should be and therefore too much.

sashal said…

shouldn't your beef be with Forbes magazine-the citadel of Marxist oppression.
More from the actual survey :

The average Tea Partier placed the United States’ global rank in life expectancy at 11th, when in fact the CIA ranks the United States 49th.

Not surprising. This crowd hears Republicans talk about “the best health care system in the world” 24/7, and breaks out into chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” at the slightest provocation.

Finally, there’s this:

In terms of energy policy, Tea Partiers estimated that the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) holds about 70 years worth of oil, based on America’s present rates of consumption. Conventional estimates suggest that ANWR holds about a year’s supply of oil, based on the CIA’s estimate of oil consumption.

70 years, 1 year — what’s the difference?

Again, when you hear your leaders say “Drill, baby, drill!” over and over, this confusion is understandable.

The Teabaggers are just regurgitating years of programming by Rush and Sean and the GOP. Pesky things like “facts” and “data” are the stuff of weak-kneed libruls.

Bartlett the author of the article in Forbes served in the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations.

conservative generation said…

Sashal – Thank you for commenting. I was hoping I’d suck some of the mindless left into this article. Two questions hardly support any substantive opinions over the other policies you wrote about. Since you seem so concerned about getting facts right, I’d highly recommend you unsubscribe yourself to the findings least you prove yourself the victim of your own joke.

As I said in my post, the survey is Jeopardy questions, not substantive questions over policy.

For example, there are several different measures for LE, like the WHO’s DALE. The WHO doesn’t us LE as it’s indicator for health care quality, because it’s limited in its ability to actually describe LE. The WHO has the DALE of the US at 24th and DALE is only one of many components to the weight.

If you quizzed me and asked me what the US ranked in the 2000 WHO report and I didn’t answer the number correctly, it would have zero effect on whether or not Obama’s health care reform would better America’s health care system, nor would it disqualify me from having an intelligent discussion about it.

Don’t forget, you savoir Obama has said things like “Doctors are unnecessarily cutting off peoples feet and removing tonsils for money.” I suppose by your standard Obama’s opinions on health care are crazy?

In the meantime, feel free to read up on bias surveys.


Biased questions lead to biased answers. The survey is absolutely useless.

Everett said…

Your final note about giving a similar test to a control group is easily the most important point of your article.

Science without a control is simply invalid. Bruce Bartlett should know better, but apparently he doesn't.

Everett said…

Your final comment about administering a similar test to a control group of lefties is easily the most important point of your article.

Science without a control is simply invalid. Bruce Bartlett should know this, but apparently he doesn't.

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