Patterico's Pontifications


Happy Birthday, “Inflation Reduction” Act!

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:32 pm

[guest post by JVW]

At The Spectator, Oliver Weisman reminds us that last year’s ridiculously-named Democrat spending orgy turned one year old a few days ago:

The excuse for Biden’s latest bit of economic salesmanship is the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act. This means we will be treated to tired catchphrases that refuse to catch on, such as “grow the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down.” It also means we will watch Democrats get frustrated that Biden isn’t getting the economic credit they think he deserves. That frustration makes little allowance for the important point (covered before in this newsletter) that Biden’s economic track record isn’t nearly as rosy as they seem to think it. Instead, Biden’s problem is a messaging one.

Last week the president identified what he sees as the source of the confusion: the name of the Inflation Reduction Act. “I wish I hadn’t called it that,” he said at a Democratic fundraiser last week, adding that “it has less to do with reducing inflation than it has to do with providing alternatives that generate economic growth.”

In other words: the president now acknowledges the obvious fact that the name of his flagship legislation was a cynical and short-sighted bit of spin that strained credulity by branding a massive spending bill as an act of inflation-busting fiscal responsibility.

[. . .]

In complaining about the Inflation Reduction Act’s confusing name, Biden and his allies demonstrate a remarkable degree of political amnesia. Their massive climate-focused spending bill had to be renamed for a reason: that a more straightforwardly branded piece of legislation was a nonstarter in the Senate and unpopular with voters.

Mr. Wiseman then reminds us that just over three months ago, the Brookings Institute released an analysis of the IRA which suggests that its effects will be far smaller than hoped for, but its costs will at the same time be significantly greater. Gee, any wonder why Official Washington Media ignored this story? Here’s a transcript of a podcast in which the paper’s author Neil Mehrotra explained the findings. According to him, while there will be an overall reduction in carbon dioxide emission of about 6% to 10% over the next decade, the higher cost of materials combined with unfriendly interest rates means that it will come with a brutal price tag:

So, one of the important findings in our paper is that the fiscal expenditures associated with the Inflation Reduction Act are likely to be somewhat larger than were originally projected by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation. These are the two agencies that try and forecast how much the legislation will cost over a 10-year window. And our finding is that the 10-year cost would be closer to around $900 billion instead of the $400 billion that was projected by the CBO and JCT. And there’s many reasons that we’re getting a higher fiscal cost. The reason that the legislation will cost more is that there’s more uptake, there’s more increased investment in clean energy capital, which is part of the goal of the legislation.

In terms of its effect on the trajectory of emissions, we expect that at the end of 2030 U.S. emissions will be something like 35% below their 2005 level, and that is getting close to what our commitment is under the Paris Agreement, which we were trying to get to 50% by 2030. So, the climate provisions and the Inflation Reduction Act move us materially closer to attaining that emissions target.

To sum it up: an additional $900 billion, on top of the trillions that have been pledged over the past decades, in order to miss our climate goals under the Paris Accords by about 30%, at the same time that China has determined they no longer will be held responsible for their pledges made on behalf of emission reductions.

I know regular readers will be shocked to the core to learn that multinational agreements solemnly signed by dignitaries in elaborate ceremonies and celebrated as “major breakthroughs” in all of the proper salons, faculty lounges, and boardrooms in various world capitals sometimes turn out to be nothing more than grandstanding and virtue signaling by the wealthy elite, but here’s where we find ourselves. But never fear: John Kerry and his ilk will soon be back promoting yet another “major breakthrough” that promises to save us from environmental doom. And Joe Biden along with his party will fall in line with elite conventional wisdom just as they always do.


Why “OH SO NOW TWEETING IS A CRIME?” Is a Dumb Comment

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:30 am

A short observation in response to the commentary I am seeing out there about how Fani Willis is criminalizing speech. People are citing, for example, paragraphs in the new indictment that characterize as “overt acts” things like Trump sending a tweet. “OH SO NOW TWEETS ARE A CRIME?” go the ignorant responses.

No, they are overt acts. The law has always been very clear that overt acts in furtherance of a conspiracy might be innocent in and of themselves, but become an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy when there is an agreement to commit a crime, and the otherwise innocent act is done in furtherance of that agreement.

So, if you buy a ski mask at a store, that is not a crime in and of itself. But if you have agreed to do a bank robbery, and tell a co-conspirator that you will now buy a ski mask to hide your face during the robbery, then buying the ski mask can be an overt act.


These are the perils of listening to partisan morons.

P.S. I make a similar point in my newsletter from yesterday about the notion that Jack Smith is criminalizing speech:

[L]et’s say a disinterested observer who is not part of (or even coordinating with) the Trump campaign writes an op-ed in a newspaper, which advocates the following thesis: Trump really won the election, but Joe Biden stole it. So Trump should persuade state legislators to create alternate slates of electors that Congress can vote for on January 6, 2021. A disinterested citizen writing or publishing such an op-ed could not be prosecuted for that op-ed in the criminal courts. It would be protected by the First Amendment. This is true even though the op-ed is certifiably insane, and advocates a course of action without any basis in law or evidence.

But if Trump or his co-conspirators go around trying to pass off fraudulent claims of election irregularities, as part of a scheme to get public officials to throw out lawfully cast votes for a federal election, some of the same “speech” could end up forming an operative part of the fraudulent scheme. If, for example, Trump and his cronies are engaged in a plot to create a phony slate of electors, and he goes around making the same sorts of false claims as part of the scheme, then all of a sudden some of that “speech” might begin to look like part of a crime.

What we call “speech” is often part of the commission of a crime. It’s impossible to imagine fraud without “speech.” After all, fraud involves misrepresentations, which means “speech”—but not the sort of “speech” that is protected by the First Amendment.

There’s a great analogy in there from Walter Olson about the difference between using claims of stolen valor to boast (bad but legal) and using them to fraudulently obtain veterans’ benefits (bad and illegal).

If you have not read that newsletter, consider taking a look at it now.

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