"My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with the facts."
That seems to be the attitude of far too many of our progressive friends as well as our right-wing adversaries, when it comes to debating politics and public policy alternatives.
A friend of mine persistently voices the same empty platitudes about business, budgets, and efficiency, any time I mention certain topics on a Facebook post. Generally, what gets his knees jerking involves health care, education, or budget cuts. He operates a successful small business, and apparently within his personal experience all problems can be solved by healthy eating, exercise, and frugality.
He repeats the mantra of "there are always places to cut" and "just cut everything 10% across the board" any time one of his issue buttons is pushed. About 30 times over the past year or so, I've challenged him to read a summary of the federal budget, take the actual deficit, compare it the size of discretionary domestic spending, and explain exactly how he will cover the deficit by cuts alone. That's a trick question, of course, to the extent that numerically it can't be done. But will he even look at the numbers--either to admit that fact or even to dispute on some grounds the accuracy of the calculations? Nope. Can't be bothered. So he continues to mouth the same empty platitudes instead.
I get just as frustrated with folks on the progressive side of the policy equation when they take a position that fits their predisposition but just isn't supported by the hard facts. The current example which has me aggravated is a post, still front-paged here on BlueNC, in which a regular contributor asserts that Obama is raising taxes on the working poor.
It just ain't so. The unpleasant facts are that if the lame duck Congress takes no action, that results in a big tax hike for everybody, most definitely including the working poor. The fact is that the good tax breaks for them--including the much-praised Making Work Pay credit--expire at the end of 2010 as a matter of existing federal tax law. Nothing that Obama can do will change that, unless both chambers of Congress pass identical legislation to change it.
In order to avert that big tax hike, Obama has settled for what he believes is the best deal he can negotiate on behalf of the poor and the middle class. That deal includes content which will substantially reduce next year's tax burden on the working poor, compared to what will happen if no action is taken by Congress.
Now, Obama's proposed tax deal with the Republicans includes some sorry content. I'd take no factual issue with someone who wants to argue that the deal is so bad that our country overall would be better off with no Congressional action during the lame duck session than with adoption of that proposal. I'd not call out on the facts someone who argued that the Republicans would cave if Obama just held out and said that he'd take a no-deal stalemate over a bill that continued the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Either of those conclusions would be perfectly legitimate opinions, arguable analyses. I might or might not agree with them, but it wouldn't be a question of demonstrable factual error. It would just be a difference of opinion.
No, what frustrates me are the bald assertions that 2 + 2 = 22. That's Sarah Palin math, friends. We shouldn't be using it. And we shouldn't let our political colleagues get away with persuading us to accept it, either.