John Irons's Blog


Economic News, Data and Analysis

Dropping a Chapter

Oh, now they’re worried about credibility…. I think it’s a bit too late…

Dropping Report’s Iraq Chapter Was Unusual, Economists Say (
Concern About Impact on White House’s Credibility Cited
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 23, 2005; Page A17
At the National Security Council’s request, the White House excised a full chapter on Iraq’s economy from last week’s Economic Report of the President, reasoning in part that the “feel good” tone of the writing would ring hollow against the backdrop of continuing violence, according to White House officials.
The decision to delete an entire chapter from the Council of Economic Advisers’ annual report was highly unusual. Council members — recruited from the top ranks of economic academia — have long prided themselves on independence and intellectual integrity, and the Economic Report of the President is the council’s primary showcase.
The annual report was upbeat on Iraq.
The withholding of a completed chapter struck some economists from both political parties as evidence of the council’s waning influence.
“This is extraordinary,” said William A. Niskanen, a CEA member in the Reagan White House and the chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute. “The council has been unfortunately weakened.”

Filed under: Uncategorized


The Center for American Progress is hiring for the econ team…
Job Opportunities – Center for American Progress
Associate Director for Economic Policy: The associate director will work as a member of the economic policy team and will be responsible for analyzing and monitoring a portfolio of economic issues. The associate director will also be responsible for directing the economic policy team’s work on economic inequality. Responsibilities will include writing, editing, rapid response, and individual research projects. Full description in PDF
Senior Policy Analyst, Economy: The Center for American Progress has an immediate opening for a Senior Economic Policy Analyst. The analyst will work under the direction of the Senior Vice President and Coordinator for Economic Policy on a variety of economic policy issues. The analyst will also be responsible for a portfolio of economic policy issues and work with other members of the economic team. responsibilities will include writing, editing, rapid response, and individual research projects. Full description in PDF

Filed under: Economists

Roubini on The Bush Budget

Read this:
Nouriel Roubini’s Global Economics Blog: Bush Damned Budget Lies and Voodoo Budget Magic: it will be a $600b deficit, not $233b by 2009…and over $1,100b by 2015!
Bush Damned Budget Lies and Voodoo Budget Magic: it will be a $600b deficit, not $233b by 2009…and over $1,100b by 2015!
The dishonesty of the administration about budget deficits has reached levels unheard of. These folks have absolutely no shame. Bush presented today a budget that claims that he will achieve his goal of reducing the deficit by half by 2008 (from a false 2004 baseline of $521 billion rather than the actual 2004 deficit of $412b) and will achieve a deficit of “only” $233b by 2009. Even better news, the administration claims today: the “halving” of the deficit will be reached by 2008, a year earlier than original 2009 target for it.
Who are these accounting scam artists trying to deceive? Do they think everyone in America and around the world is a mathematically challenged total idiot or an accounting moron?
The reality is, that based on realistic scenarios outlined last week by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the deficit by 2009 will be close to $600b (or 4.0% of GDP) rather than falling to $233b; and the deficit will reach over $1,100b (or 5.5% of GDP) by 2015.
How do they create the false $233b deficit by 2009?
1. They assume spending cuts that are, by any historical and political standard, impossible to achieve.
2. They assume revenue growth that is altogether wishful thinking and false based on current trends. And they do not consider the long-run costs of making all the Bush tax cuts permanent.
3. They do not count the ongoing costs of the continued defense and homeland security spending and of future military and homeland security build-ups.
4. They phase-in a budget busting social security privatization (that will cost alone $4.5 trillion in the next 20 years) only starting in 2009.
This is worse than dishonesty; it is the most squalid manipulation of budgets ever seen aimed at pretending to achieve a budget figure that is utterly unrealistic and false in every possible dimension.
What would be a more realistic and honest scenario for the 2009 and 2015 budget deficits, given the administration tax goals and the likely path of spending?
Realistic and sensible assumptions imply that the 2009 deficit will be close to $600b (or 4.0% of GDP), even excluding social security reform; and the deficit will reach over $1,100b (or about 5.5.% of GDP) by 2015, including the effects of social security reform.

Filed under: Economics

Stiglitz on Social Security

Securing Social Security for the Future
The funding troubles of Social Security have been greatly exaggerated in an effort to push a privatization agenda. Privatization has laudable goals—increased choice and higher returns—but few would choose to risk their secure retirement income and unfortunately higher returns cannot be achieved without risk. Regrettably, if private accounts really do offer a lot of choices, many people who cannot afford to do so will unwittingly risk their incomes; and, in many cases, a combination of this risk and high transaction costs will consume what should be their core retirement income. When the government picks up the pieces, the funding troubles will be worse, not better.

Filed under: Economics

Does Bush’s Budget Proposal Set Right Priorities on Health Care? – Does Bush’s Budget Proposal Set Right Priorities on Health Care?
February 9, 2005
President Bush unveiled his 2006 budget proposal on Monday, kicking off the annual tussle in Congress over which programs to fund more, less or not at all.
On health care, a political hot potato and a top concern of Americans, the president’s plan includes cuts in discretionary spending at the Department of Health and Human Services. Medicare spending, meanwhile, is budgeted for $340 billion, a 17% increase due largely to new prescription-drug coverage.
Who is responsible for the bottom line when it comes to Americans’ health care? invited economist bloggers John Irons and Russ Roberts to debate the details of the president’s plan and examine broader questions about health-care costs.
more …

Filed under: Economics

New Blog – Podesta on Tonight

Center for American Progress is launching a new blog. Tonight, John Podesta will be giving live, real-time commentary throughout the state of the union…
See Think Progress.

Filed under: Background

Back from Break

I decided to take January off from blogging… but I’m back!

Filed under: Website