John Hood's lame defense of GOP policies

Trying to tune a broken guitar:

"For a group of people who claim to believe in empirical study and higher learning, liberal politicians and other critics of North Carolina’s new conservative leaders seem remarkably uninformed or contemptuous of the research basis for the policy initiatives now being debated in Raleigh,'' writes John Hood of the John Locke Foundation in his column at

That's because the bulk of the research used to justify their actions is tainted beyond credibility by dubious "experts" who are beholden to corporate-funded "foundations", whose primary goal is to wrest control of government away from the people and move it into their board rooms. And it's a good bet John Hood has come to realize this, because he's too embarassed to cite a single study in this piece, knowing they are easily refutable, so he falls back on generalities:

...this proposal is not only imminently sensible but also consistent with decades of research suggesting...this fact is widely accepted by education researchers...This is not a conservative talking point – it is a conclusion shared by scholars of all well supported by the available data...Regardless of which of these conclusions you find more persuasive, you should know that the evidence for the following two propositions is actually stronger...

I've read a lot of John's stuff over the years and, although I've disagreed with many of his views, I've found he seldom states absolutes, and often presents verifiable studies that (he feels) back up what claims he does make. If this piece reflects a change of behavior on his part, I doubt I'll be taking him seriously anymore. As to this claim:

At any given level of overall taxation, economies fare better when their governments avoid high marginal tax rates, particularly on savings, private investment, and corporate income.

The fact that one of the worst (and sustained) recessions in our country's history followed closely on the tail of the Bush tax cuts should lead even the slowest of readers to conclude that Hood has tumbled off the deep end with this declaration, but even that simple conclusion should have some research to back it up:

A useful summary measure of such changes’ supply-side effects is the sensitivity of reported income to marginal rates. If people work and invest more in response to tax cuts, their reported income will rise when marginal rates fall. True supply-siders believe that this sensitivity is well over a value of 1, implying that cuts in marginal rates raise reported income enough that government tax revenues nevertheless rise. But a critical review of several natural-experiment studies concluded that the best available estimates of this sensitivity range from 0.12 to 0.40. The midpoint of the range, 0.25, implies that if the marginal tax rate for high earners decreased from its current level of 35 percent to 28 percent (which Mr. Romney proposes), reported income would rise by just 2 1/2 percent.

We found that an increase in marginal rates on an income group leads to a decrease in its reported taxable income relative to other groups. Indeed, because the variation is so large, the effect can be pinned down much more precisely than in most postwar studies. But the estimated impact is very small — almost at the bottom of the postwar studies’ range. One likely reason is that the tax system between the two world wars was very simple — all the instructions and tax forms for the personal income tax fit on just six pages. As a result, there were few legal methods of shielding income.

Where does this leave us? I can’t say marginal rates don’t matter at all. They have some impact on reported income, and it’s possible they have other effects through subtle channels not captured in the studies I’ve described. But the strong conclusion from available evidence is that their effects are small.

While reducing marginal tax rates may not have a substantial impact on long-term economic growth, there is one area in which it has a profound effect: wealth accumulation in the top 1%. Ideologues like John Hood and Art Pope would have us believe that tiny group holds the key to our recovery. If they do, they've so far refused to turn said key. In reality, it's the millions of small business owners who could (and hopefully will) make the difference. Unfortunately, the needed capital is under the control of a handful of misanthropes who would rather throw away billions on dubious money-shuffling schemes than release said capital into the wild.

One more note on the quality of information available to readers: this article is published under Rob Christensen's name, but said "veteran" reporter makes no commentary, no observations, he just surrenders his column space in its entirety to Art Pope's deputy. That's wrong on so many levels I don't know where to start.


These taxation policies will

These taxation policies will only lead to a sort of neo-feudalism.

Which is...

exactly what they want.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Which is ...

exactly what we have, and not just because of tax policy. The whole culture of corporate greed has decimated the middle class and made the lives of the working poor even more challenging. But don't talk to Bank Run Burr about it. He's too busy sending his little wife to the ATM machine based on his insider information in the Senate.

Which also

Includes Hagan. and all the other as well.


For example:

There is a mountain of research that says smaller class sizes are better than bigger class sizes. So Republicans vote to lift the cap on class sizes.

The "research" advocating for government austerity has been proven rigged through ideological analysis. The real findings show that economic recovery comes from government spending.

There are no credible scientists who think sea level rise is not accelerating. Republicans voted last year to prohibit planners from using the most current data.

Said another way ... John Hood is full of shit.

Mostly I don't even bother to call attention to his propaganda any more. Thanks for calling out this egregious nonsense.

You know what's weird?

I just stopped by my mom's to take her on a used-book-hunt/grocery-run, and while I was waiting for her to get ready, I picked up her daily rag (Burlington Times-News). There was John's column in his normal spot with his normal smug look, identical to what Rob published under his own byline.

What gives? The N&O doesn't publish Hood's op-eds anymore, so Rob Christensen does it for him? Who's getting paid for what?

It's Really Pretty Simple

John Hood and the majority in the NC General ASSembly decide what the conclusion is and then cherry pick so-called "evidence" and/or generate biased studies (and sometimes just plain make things up) to support the desired conclusion.

Whether it's tax policy, climate change, fracking, education policies, voter ID, or anything else, they decide the answer and then cling to ridiculous claims that purport to support the foregone conclusion.

It's not what reasonable, logical people do. Which tells you something about them.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Great comment

You just wrapped up the Civitas modus operandi in one succinct package. That summary would also apply to tea baggers, religious fanatics, neo-cons, some libertarians and most anyone who watches Fox "News".

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

That's exactly what...

....Mike Hager did with fracking...he cherry-picked the Duke Study and one from University of Texas to justify his fracking position. If you get him away from either of those sources he can't answer questions...although he is an engineer as he like to remind gullible people when the occasion arises...

Ditto on Voter ID...

They got some ALEC idiot to come testify that everything is fine in Georgia after instituting Voter ID. Ask them for data from other states, and they scurry back into their holes. And of course the Georgia data they choose is misleading, but that, of course, is the point.

They're not about to let pesky facts get in the way of their ideology!

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Well You Can Kiss...

the "Pope's" ring.

You're quite right, and the sad thing is, not only is that their M.O, many/most of them actually BELIEVE the sewage they're listening to and spreading!!

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Confirmed Political Research By John "Boy"?

The only confirmed research by John was in 2004 when he prove that Bigfoot voted in a Republican Primary by mistake under the name "Billy Bob Foot" This was confirmed by his twin Brother " The Lawyer" who stood behind Bigfoot in the voting line. A Spokensperson for Bigfoot said that was not true since he was behind The Lawyer and he was offering discount tickets to the Gold Club in Downtown Cary as a " Get Out The Vote Republican Campaign Of 04"

Who do you believe? BigFoot? A Rotten Communist Monkey or a Republican Lawyer who does not have Clients?

Citations of the lead researcher for Locke

If you want to have some fun, go to Google Scholar and type in this search:

author:Roy author:Cordato

Then look for how many and who is citing his work. Not exactly a heavyweight among scholars and researchers. Perhaps Pope should spend a little more money to get someone with a higher academic profile.

Roy Cordato...

His credentials seem to rival those of "doctors" that endorse impotence, anti-itch medications and weight loss products on late night TV.

Think-tank job creators!

He's a slight step above that. He's been an adjunct professor.

Conservative think tanks are the unemployment solution for people with PhDs that can't get a tenure track position. Pope's probably paying him a pittance - being an adjunct at a place like Campbell University in Buie, NC doesn't pay much more than being a public school teacher in a decent North Carolina district.

Having this guy have any impact on public policy for North Carolina is a bit like asking a quack that believes in the healing powers of mercury for advice on that experimental brain surgery you're having next week.