Deliberate Deception in the US: Blaming Fannie and Freddie for Crisis

Joe Nocera gets mad. And it’s a beautiful thing to see.
In a Dec. 23 column in The New York Times, Joe once again went after the Big Lie — the claim that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the financial crisis — and drove home the point that the people advancing this story aren’t just wrong but are acting with intent, engaging in deliberate deception.

Joe cites an op-ed published two days before in The Wall Street Journal by Peter Wallison, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who “almost single-handedly created the myth” about Fannie and Freddie. “In Wallison’s article, he claimed that the charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission against six former Fannie and Freddie executives last week prove him right,” Joe wrote. “This is another favorite tactic: He takes a victory lap whenever events cast Fannie and Freddie in a bad light. Rarely, however, has his intellectual dishonesty been on such vivid display. In fact, what the S.E.C.’s allegations show is that the Big Lie is, well, a lie.”
Read the whole thing.

Basically, Joe is arriving where I’ve been since 2000: what’s going on in the discussion of economic affairs (and other matters, like justifications for war) isn’t just a case where different people look at the same facts but reach different conclusions. Instead, we’re looking at a situation in which one side of the debate just isn’t interested in the truth; in which alleged scholarship is actually just propaganda.

Saying this, of course, gets you declared “shrill” and denounced as partisan; you’re supposed to pretend that we’re having a civilized discussion between people with good intentions. And you’re supposed to match each attack on Republicans with an attack on Democrats, as if the mendacity were equal on both sides.

Sorry, but it isn’t. Democrats aren’t angels; they’re human and sometimes corrupt — but they don’t operate a lie machine 24/7 the way modern Republicans do.

Welcome to my world, Joe.

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Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed page and continues as a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University. He was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2008.

Mr Krugman is the author or editor of 20 books and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes, including “The Return of Depression Economics” (2008) and “The Conscience of a Liberal” (2007).

Copyright 2011 The New York Times.