Gessing Kills Two Birds With One Stone in Letter Criticizing Gisser

August 27th, 2014 · No Comments · budget policy, economy, financial coverage, journalism, labor, tax policy

By Denise Tessier

It’s safe to expect that when a column by economist Micha Gisser appears in the Albuquerque Journal, a letter of rebuttal or critique soon will follow. Gisser’s latest, in Business Outlook on Aug. 18, actually prompted two refutations.

What was unexpected was that one of the two critiques Monday (Aug. 25) came from the president of the Rio Grande Foundation, the conservative/libertarian think tank that once listed Gisser among of its stable of experts. Even more surprising was the letter from Paul Gessing led with this:

I respect Micha Gisser as an economist, but I think he allows politics to cloud his economic thinking in his recent column on the U.S. and New Mexico economies.

He allows politics to cloud his economic thinking?

Now, there’s a revelation.

The impact of the surprise in reading Gessing’s letter was heightened in that it wasn’t the first in Monday’s letter group (no link available at the time of this post). The first in the letters package came from William Jewell of Placitas, who pointed out over nine paragraphs (headlined “Different recessions, different effects”) that Gisser’s conclusions were “based on limited data and comparison of two extremely different recessions.” He noted that Gisser concentrated “only on unemployment rates, which any economist knows is a lagging indicator of recovery.”

Then came Gessing’s letter disputing Gisser’s analyses, in which the RGF president managed to kill two birds with one stone.

Gessing not only succeeded in distancing RGF from its former expert, but managed to cheer-lead for gubernatorial incumbent/candidate Susana Martinez to boot.  Gessing wrote that Martinez is trying to “reduce the corporate tax and gross receipts tax burdens while not burdening taxpayers with new, costly projects like the Rail Runner and Spaceport,” the latter of which are the legacy of Bill Richardson.  And simply by having the letter printed, he managed to keep the Rio Grande Foundation in the public eye.

Gessing topped off his letter with:

We should analyze politicians’ records on their merits, absent partisan blinders.

Business Outlook has regularly run Gisser’s columns, even though they usually are subsequently attacked. That’s actually a plus for an editor who has a lot of column inches to fill; Gisser appears only too happy to provide the columns, which fill space, and then the paper provides a semblance of “fairness” by running the rebuttals, which also fill space.

Gisser’s most recent column, which ran in the “Executive’s Desk” slot, was headlined “One chart, two curves, three conclusions,” and concluded its flawed analysis by actually proclaiming:

The Obama administration has declared war on inversions (moving headquarters out of the country for tax purposes). However, common sense would show that lowering our statutory corporate tax from 35 percent to, say, 15 percent would repatriate most of our corporations abroad, and consequently give a huge boost to production and employment at home.

Corporations have been abandoning U.S. workforces for decades now – despite a consistent lowering of corporate taxes since the Reagan years, not to mention the loopholes that already allow corporations to pay 15 percent (or even zero). One doesn’t need an economic background to doubt Gisser’s claim.

I was going to conclude this column by observing that one would hope, but not expect, that Business Outlook might stop using Gisser’s stuff, now that even the Rio Grande Foundation has called him out for politically clouded thinking.

This morning, however, the Journal announced a shuffling of editors that puts the Business editors on the Metro Desk, and moves long-time Metro Desk editors to Business. With Charlie Moore and Ellen Marks now running Business, it’s possible we might see less of Gisser at the “Executive’s Desk”.

If that happens, well,  for Gisser, there’s still the Op-Ed page.


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