The Heritage Foundation embarrasses itself with numbers… again.

problems measuring austerity

problems measuring austerity

The Heritage Foundation doesn’t know what “austerity” means or how to measure it, and just can’t seem to understand how numbers actually work. This is causing some trouble for a party that doesn’t want to be seen as the “party of stupid”.

We’ve written before about how the Heritage Foundation regularly makes predictions that are wildly inaccurate, and normally we are perfectly content to blame liberally-biased “facts” rather than the good conservatives at the Heritage Foundation.  However, in light of recent evidence that Young Republicans don’t want to be part of “a stupid party”, we think it’s time to put our foot down and ask the important question: Heritage Foundation, what the hell is wrong with you?

The most recent topic is that of austerity.  Liberals have been claiming that the conservative notion that “austerity will fix everything” is debunked by the problems in Europe.  “Europe has austerity,” these evil liberals will say, “And their economic situation has gotten worse. That proves you are wrong, Q.E.D, neener-neener.”

The most recent fad going around the internet has been for conservatives to respond by saying, “What Europe has done isn’t really austerity, because they increased taxes instead of cutting spending.  Increasing taxes is what is causing their problems. Real, true, manly austerity is based on cutting spending.”

OK, so they don’t usually use the word “manly”, but you get the idea.

It is important to realize where this idea comes from: The Heritage Foundation.  They have been peddling this idea for a long time now, and have most recently summarized it nicely in the congressional testimony by Salim Furth (PDF).  Instead of “manly”, Dr. Furth uses the term “classic austerity”, presumably because he is aware that the word “austerity” by itself refers to

Definition of austerity

So by adding the word “classic”, he can fudge this a little bit and claim that tax increases are the “wrong” kind of austerity, because they are not “classic”. Or whatever.

The problem is, no matter how you define “austerity”, the Heritage Foundation claim that Europe hasn’t been implementing austerity is wrong.  Dr. Furth claims that European countries have not been decreasing their deficits, but then presents a table showing that their deficits as a percentage of GDP in each year (left side table, above).  In other words, countries that cut their deficits would still show an increase if their GDP dropped by a larger amount.  When the change in the deficit was measured as a percentage of a constant GDP (right side graph, above), the United States, Britain, France, and Spain–all showing increasing deficit in the Heritage Foundation table–can all be seen to have actually decreased their deficits.

But what is even worse is this: even if you allow the Heritage Foundation their notion of “classic” austerity, most of the countries in Europe were still implementing austerity.  According to the OECD, when you compare what percentage of the budget cuts were due to spending cuts versus tax increases in each country, the majority of the countries closed their spending gaps mostly with spending cuts:

EOCD Austerity chart

So it comes down to this: Heritage Foundation, you need to get your act together.  In the past we have been more than happy to defend you on the  grounds that numbers and statistics have a liberal bias.  However, it’s 2013 now…. if you can’t manage to simply get the numbers right in your arguments, you will never shake that reputation of being the “party of stupid”.


For more discussion: Yes, Europe really is in the throes of austerity (WonkBlog)

graphs data sources: OECD
graphs found viaThe Washington Post

related article: Liberal facts conspire to embarrass the Heritage Foundation

European austerity weirdly contradicts conservative values

Eurozone austerity

Eurozone austerity

“If we tighten our belts it will lead to growth,” Rand Paul has said. “Reducing the deficit always makes economies boom,” Paul Ryan has said. So why is this graph showing otherwise?

Of course we have not just heard this from our conservative hero, Rand Paul Ryan. We have also heard this from great intellectuals like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.  They all tell us the same thing: deep cuts in spending will balance the budget and instantly lead to an enormous explosion in hiring, productivity, GDP, puppies, rainbows, and oral sex.  In other words: it will solve all problems in the world.

Weirdly, the above graph shows that in European countries, there is a negative relationship between the degree of austerity they implemented, and their GDP growth.  More specifically: across Europe, the more dedicated a country was to cuts and austerity, the more their GDP dropped.


When statistics like these dare to contradict the talking points of our great lord and leader, Rand Paul Ryan, there is only one conclusion we can come to:  the statistics must have a liberal bias!!!


graph data source: IMF, World Economic Outlook Database
graph found via: Paul Krugman, New York Times

related article: European unemployment weirdly contradicts conservative values

England has a liberal bias!

US vs. UK

This graph shows the impact of the Obama Recession in 2008 and 2009 on the GDP of both the United States and the United Kingdom (England). As you can see, both were hit hard by the economic collapse, and both have had only a very slight recovery.

However, you can also see that the recovery in the United States was much better than the recovery in England.

This is very weird and suspicious. England has put into place very conservative policies. They have cut back on government spending dramatically, and cut back on government regulation. All of this has been going on while Obama has gone on a wild government spending spree and increased government regulation by three million billion percent according to some sources.

So if Obama’s stimulus and socialist policies are bad for the economy, and cutting costs is supposed to help the economy to grow, then why is England not recovering faster than the United States?


I will tell you why. Liberals, who hate America, want you to believe that Obama’s stimulus and spending are what is causing our recovery to be better than the recovery in England; but nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is, Americans are just better than English people. According to the proven principle of American Exceptionalism, the U.S. economy should always recover faster than the U.K. economy. In fact, I’m sure that if it weren’t for Obama’s socialist stimulus and government regulation, that yellow line would have increased even more!

Anyone who thinks otherwise obviously just hates America, and is filled with liberal bias!!!!!


graph source: Thompson Reuters Datastream, April 2012
graph found via: The Rachel Maddow Show