The Phony Campaign

2011-02-20 Update

[phony baloney]

Pun Salad wandered over to Intrade to see if our list of 2012 GOP presidential candidates was reasonable. We wouldn't want to miss any phonies! But long-shot and no-shot candidates need not apply!

Intrade (as of right now) has a dizzying list of Republicans for whom people can actually trade contracts predicting their nomination. You can (if you are so inclined) relate a contract price to the probability of the candidate's eventual triumph over the field. And Pun Salad is so inclined.

There's a clear front-runner: Mitt Romney (22.8%). There are five candidates in the 8-11% range: Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, John Thune, and Mitch Daniels.

Down in the third tier (2-6%), we start getting into the deep weeds: Harley Barbour, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Chris Christie, Donald Trump, and Michele Bachmann. Huntsman (5.1%) actually outscores Gingrich (4.4%) and Ron Paul (2.2%).

The rest of the field, all below 2%, are a motley assortment of improbables; the folks buying these contracts seem to be looking for some sort of black-swan event, like an unspeakable horror at a debate: Rudy Giuliani, Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor, Tom Coburn, Bobby Jindal, Gary Johnson, Joe Lieberman, David Petraeus, Paul Ryan, Fred Thompson (yes!), Charlie Crist, Mike Pence, Rick Perry, Mark Sanford, John Kasich, Colin Powell, Bob Corker, Jim DeMint, George Pataki, Lou Dobbs, Marco Rubio, Joe Scarborough, Scott Brown, Michael Bloomberg, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Lindsay Graham, Stanley McChrystal, Clarence Thomas, John Bolton, Judd Gregg, Herman Cain, Buddy Roemer, Dick Cheney, and Rand Paul.

Yes, New Hampshire's own retired Senator Judd Gregg is in the Intrade list. For President. It's hard to imagine that happening. Because whenever we try, we keep dozing off.

Anyway: we'll set an arbitrary threshold of a 4% Intrade probability to be included in the phony campaign. So Huntsman is in, Ron Paul is (once again) outta here. Haley Barbour (2.8%) remains out, as do Chris Christie (3.3%), Michelle Bachmann (2.7%), and the Donald (2%). Newt (barely, at 4.4%) stays in. But we'll keep checking. Without further ado, then:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Barack Obama" phony 3,810,000 -130,000
"Sarah Palin" phony 2,830,000 -130,000
"Mike Huckabee" phony 1,310,000 -90,000
"Newt Gingrich" phony 1,160,000 -190,000
"Mitt Romney" phony 569,000 +36,000
"Tim Pawlenty" phony 438,000 +25,000
"Mitch Daniels" phony 274,000 +51,000
"John Thune" phony 194,000 +22,000
"Jon Huntsman" phony 115,000 ---

… an unimpressive phony showing from the new guy. But there's plenty of time!

  • Any essay entitled "The Phony Phony" deserves a link. A Mr. David Glenn Cox is extremely put out with President Obama:

    Look back over your shoulder now at how the public was manipulated in 2008. Barack Obama a liberal? Going to close Gauntonamo [sic]? Return our civil liberties? Going to help working families? Going to support card check? Remember how John McCain was going to be George W. Bush's third term? McCain was going to open the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic to deep water oil drilling (drill baby drill)and build nuclear power plants as alternative energy. McCain was going to send one hundred thousand troops to Afghanistan, Obama sent a hundred and ten thousand troops plus sixty thousand contractors. Obama opened a new war front in Pakistan and increased drone aircraft attacks above Bush administration levels.

    It's kind of like Instapundit's occasional "They told me if I voted for McCain that X… and they were right!" Except Cox is on the left, and therefore very, very serious. In fact, recent events have caused Cox's thought processes to pinball unpredictably:

    Look at AOL's purchase of the Huffington Post, was it to expand AOL's balance sheet? Or was it because AOL thought that they could do a better job of running the place? It was about Capitalism and Capitalism's sole purpose is to make money. Why didn't AOL with their deep pockets and expertise build their own web site? Capitalism buys to either make their own or to eliminate from competition its rivals. AOL will maximize the advertising while minimizing the product until it is just another organ of the loyal opposition, the phony left, the phony center, the phony phony. The Huffington Post had been moving towards the imaginary center for quite a while. A baited hook for the Capitalist fisherman, a once and former "Rolling Stone" with hard hitting exposé's [sic] on cool shoes and energy drinks. If Hunter Thompson wasn't dead all ready [sic], it would kill him.

    "And I'm not feeling too well myself."

  • But President Obama showed this week why he deserves his solid first place in the phony campaign, as he attempted to defend his FY2012 budget proposal. Factcheck notes this howler:

    [B]y the middle of this decade our annual spending will match our annual revenues. We will not be adding more to the national debt. So, to use a — sort of an analogy that families are familiar with, we’re not going to be running up the credit card any more.

    … and comments:

    That’s not close to being true, even assuming that the president’s budget is enacted exactly as proposed and all economic assumptions turn out to be accurate. The budget summary (table S-1, page 171) that the White House had released the previous day clearly projects annual deficits declining to a low of $607 billion in 2015, and then rising and remaining above that level for the remainder of the decade.

    Obama later "clarified" by saying that he wasn't counting interest payments on the accumulated debt.

    [L]et me be clear on what I’m saying, because I’m not suggesting that we don’t have to do more. We still have all this accumulated debt. … And there is a lot of interest on that debt. So, in the same way that if you’ve got a credit card and you’ve got a big balance, you may not be adding to principal — you’ve still got all that interest that you’ve got to pay.

    Which is also (at best) misleading, since his projected budget is "adding to principal" every damned year, as far as the eye can see.

    (The FactCheck folks also detail some GOP fibbishness on matters fiscal.)

  • But a certain amount of phoniness is necessary when you're dealing with a phony budget to start. Megan McArdle makes some good points examining two specific issues: (1) the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) "fix" (necessary, because Congress just won't repeal this stupid tax provision originally aimed at "the rich", but keeps threatening to hit the merely upper middle class); (2) the "doc fix" (necessary, because otherwise a 13-year-old law mandates drastic cuts in Medicare payments to doctors).

    The President proposes continuing the fixes. But:

    ;When I looked into the budget, I found that these fixes were paid for--the AMT fix is paid by a 30% cut in itemized deductions for high earners. The "doc fix" is paid for by some sketchily outlined cuts to payments for other providers, including proposals to cut the exclusivity period for biologic drugs from 12 years to 7 and restrict pharma's ability to head off patent challenges from generic manufacturers with side payments. This is what the budget looks like when big, expensive temporary fixes are paid for and the president includes a temporary spending freeze. This is the best case scenario.

    And it's not a good case. Because of course the new restrictions on drugmakers have failed Congress before, as has deduction phaseout and shorter biologic exclusivity. Once this budget hits Congress, the numbers may get even bigger and scarier. As the FT notes in its headline, "deficit reduction targets unlikely to be hit." Moreover, those "fixes" are stacked to expire just after Obama (in theory) gets re-elected. The budget does not reflect the fact that he and Congress are going to want to do them all over again then.

    Obama arranging "fixes" so the pain is minimized until post-election? Congrats, Barry. That's very phony.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:19 PM EST