House Budget Committee Paul Ryan criticized the president for jettisoning a defict deal that he rejected. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg
House Budget Committee Paul Ryan criticized the president for jettisoning a defict deal that he rejected. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Catch of the Day to Jonathan Chait, who goes after Fred Hiatt and the deficit hawks:

There are, after all, all sorts of fantastical beliefs at large among the American population — conspiracy theories involving aliens or the World Trade Center, or pseudoscientific theories linking vaccines to autism, and so on — that attract adherents who are alienated in some way from the established channels. The interesting thing about Tax Trutherism is not only that is is shared by esteemed elites but that, somewhat like the predations of Bernie Madoff, esteemed elites are the only people who are taken in by it.

I have two thoughts to add.

Republicans, including House Budget Comitteee Chairman Paul Ryan, have claimed that it was President Barack Obama who spiked the recommendations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, led by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. The opposite was true. The commission never made any recommendation because Ryan, who served on the panel, refused to support any proposal that raised taxes -- and then falsely asserted in his highest-profile speech that Obama had killed this fictional deal.

People who want to be centrists probably find it hard to believe that a lie of that magnitude is being circulated. The truth must be somewhere in the middle, right? No. On this one, as Chait explains, there’s simply no give on the Republican side.

Second, Hiatt describes a “partisan president on the defensive with slipping poll numbers,” but Obama’s poll numbers have been (slightly) improving all year, and maybe for the last six months. Yeah, it’s nitpicking, and I have no problem with anyone who describes Obama’s approval as “low,” but it isn't slipping and hasn’t been for some time. And for whatever it’s worth: The (mild) recovery in Obama’s approval seems to track his jettisoning of deficit politics.

At any rate, read, as they say, the whole thing. And: Nice Catch!

To contact the writer of this article: Jonathan Bernstein at Jbernstein62@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Max Berley at mberley@bloomberg.net