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Friday, June 25, 2004

The Luskin Method

Although it's mostly pointless to criticize the Krugman-stalking Donald Luskin, it is amusing, and perhaps instructive about how the right-wing echo chamber operates. Watch how Luskin changes a debatable quibble into a accusation of lying, in just a few weeks.

Luskin writes,
I reported to [the opinion page editor] and Krugman a second error in that column, which remains uncorrected. Krugman stated "current projections show that under current rules, Social Security is good for at least 38 more years." This is an error. In fact, current projections show Social Security is good for only 27 years.

Since 38 years is in fact the Social Security Trustees commonly cited "intermediate" projection of the time until the trust fund is exhausted, it's hard to see what Luskin could be talking about. Luskin doesn't bother to explain, but some hunting around reveals that this is a reference to a post from a few weeks back when Luskin criticized Krugman for using the phrase "at least." Replied Luskin: "the 'at least' case is only good for 27 years."

Luskin's complaint is a picayune quibble, but it is true that the "high cost" projection shows the trust fund running out in 27 years. Presumably Krugman's used "at least" in some other sense, perhaps referring to the fact that successive projections have pushed the date of trust fund exhaustion farther and farther into the future.

Notice how when Luskin repeats the charge a few weeks later, it morphs from "the high cost projection is 27 years" into the claim that "Social Security is good for only 27 years," and that Krugman made an "error" by citing the intermediate case scenario.

Luskin complains that the editorial page editor "completely ignores" his emails. Small wonder! Poor Luskin: having cried wolf repeatedly, he whines that people have stopped listening.

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