Dave Brat’s Bizarre Statements

 By Peter Galuszka

Almost a year ago, Dave Brat, an obscure economics professor at Randolph- Macon College, made national headlines when he defeated Eric Cantor, the powerful House Majority Leader, in the 7th District Brat Republican primary.

Brat’s victory was regarded as a sensation since it showed how the GOP was splintered between Main Street traditionalists such as Cantor and radically conservative, Tea Party favorites such as Brat. His ascendance has fueled the polarization that has seized national politics and prevented much from being accomplished in Congress.

So, nearly a year later, what has Brat actually done? From reading headlines, not much, except for making a number of bizarre and often false statements.
A few examples:

  • When the House Education and Workforce Committee was working on reauthorizing a law that spends about $14 billion to teach low-income students, Brat said such funding may not be necessary because: “Socrates trained Plato in on a rock and the Plato trained Aristotle roughly speaking on a rock. So, huge funding is not necessary to achieve the greatest minds and the greatest intellects in history.”
  • Brat says that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a step towards making the country be more like North Korea. He compares North and South Korea this way:  “. . . it’s the same culture, it’s the same people, look at a map at night, half the, one of the countries is not lit, there’s no lights, and the bottom free-market country, all Koreans is lit up. See you make your bet on which country you want to be, right? You want to go to the free market.” One problem with his argument:  Free market South Korea has had a single payer, government-subsidized health care system for 40 years. The conservative blog, BearingDrift, called him out on that one.
  • Politifact, the journalism group that tests the veracity of politicians’ statements, has been very busy with Brat. They have rated as “false” or “mostly false” such statements that repealing Obamacare would save the nation more than $3 trillion and that President Obama has issued 468,500 pages of regulations in the Federal Register. In the former case, Brat’s team used an old government report that estimated mandatory federal spending provisions for the ACA. In the latter case, Politifact found that there were actually more pages issued than Brat said, but they were not all regulations. They included notices about agency meetings and public comment periods. What’s more, during a comparable period under former President George W. Bush, the Federal Register had 465,948 pages, Politifact found. There were some cases, however, where Politifact verified what Brat said.
  • Last fall, after Obama issued an executive order that would protect up to five million undocumented aliens from arrest and deportation, Brat vowed that “not one thin dime” of public money should go to support Obama’s plan. He vowed to defund U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services but then was told he couldn’t do so because the agency was self-funded by fees from immigration applications. He then said he would examine how it spent its money.

The odd thing about Brat is that he has a doctorate in economics and has been a professor. Why is he making such bizarre, misleading and downright false statements?

There are currently no comments highlighted.

11 responses to “Dave Brat’s Bizarre Statements

  1. As a young man, I used to think Congressmen had to be wise and learned … then when I got older, I reassessed that perhaps not all were but surely none were abjectly ignorant.

    Now – I’ reassessing again – and the news – it’s not good.

    not only are some of them truly ignorant – the actually DO represent a good amount of those that elected them!

    😉

    the Korean example given by Peter G is a prime example.

    Remember – this guy teaches economics ! and he teaches economics to folks who likely got a subsidized public school education, who likely get govt-subsidized student loans and education credits on their taxes, who then graduate and often get govt-subsidized employer-provided health care – and this nimrod he possesses a PHD is clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer…

    there’s always a certain “burn-in” period for newly elected so let’s hope for progress but this may be a bridge too far………….

    the other example these days is minimum wage where it is stated that if people are paid more then hamburgers will go up and customers will buy less hamburgers which will force layoffs – ergo – raising the minimum wage will cause unemployment.

    I’d just like to ask – how much unemployment is caused by increasing gas prices or when you cable bill goes up or you insurance premiums go up.

    how many folks get laid off when that happens?

    the point?

    the point is that supply/demand economics using only ONE variable does indeed have a direct relationship but the real world has dozens, hundreds of interacting relationships such that a price increase on one – might well not cause layoffs but instead changes made in other spending – which happens ALL THE TIME – when the price of other goods and services increase – yet

    there is no shortage of folks who think in theoretical terms and can’t really deal with the real complexities … in the market.

    but Walmart knows the truth – and is increasing wages which if you believe folks like Brat means they will sell less stuff and make less profit.

    who do you believe – Brat or Walmart?

  2. The chasms between being educated and being honest and being intelligent can prove wide indeed.

  3. Mr. Bratt is not an economist,he is a fauxconomist.

  4. Virginia is rated the 5th most gerrymandered state. Here is Dave Brat’s district:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia%27s_7th_congressional_district#/media/File:Virginia_US_Congressional_District_7_(since_2013).tif

    The current configuration of the district was set in 1993 in response to a Justice Department directive regarding the establishment of a majority – minority district.. In 1996 the district voted for Bob Dole 58 – 35%.

    When you organize districts to be wholly uncompetitive you get poor results.

    My dog, “Langley”, could have gotten elected if she would have gotten past Cantor in the primary.

    Of course, Joe Biden is Vice President so maybe the issues extend beyond Virginia.

  5. Larry, Larry, Larry …

    “the point is that supply/demand economics using only ONE variable does indeed have a direct relationship but the real world has dozens, hundreds of interacting relationships such that a price increase on one – might well not cause layoffs but instead changes made in other spending – which happens ALL THE TIME – when the price of other goods and services increase – yet”

    http://nyti.ms/1z2grAL

    You are right that there are many factors. Unfortunately, they are pretty much all running against your theory right now. First, unemployment is a hoax. You can’t logically stop calling someone unemployed because they have given up on finding a job. But that’s what our vaunted government does. Instead, you have to look at things like percentage of the working age population employed.

    From the New York Times article, “And over the same 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy’s recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago — and lower than any point in the 1990s.”

    Again, LarryG – that’s the New York Times not the Koch Brothers Journal.

    Here’s another quote … “Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary, recently said that he no longer believed that automation would always create new jobs.”

    Now, what president did Summers serve as Secretary of Treasury? Dubya? No, I afraid it was the hero of the left – Bill Clinton.

    These aren’t conservative pundits in conservative publications providing warnings about the tenuous nature of human employment – these are well educated people with full sets of liberal credentials.

    Now, how do you think clever techie boys and girls decide what to work on? They work on what will sell. If a hotel has 100 maids who work 2,000 hours per year that’s 200,000 maid hours per year. If maids make $7.50 per hour then those maids “cost the hotel” $1.5M per year. Now, if we give the maids a 100% raise and they make $15 per hour then those maids “cost the hotel” $3M per year. Suddenly, the value of me designing, building and selling a Jetson’s style “maid robot” just went up by $1.5M per year per hotel.

    Do you really think that the little darlings in Silicon Valley stay up at night wondering how to make the world a better place? Or, do they stay up at night wondering how to make money? Does Larry Ellison seem like Santa Clause to you?

    20 years ago even the most optimistic computer scientists would not have predicted self-driving cars or software based Jeopardy! champions by 2015. But that’s what happened. For the first time the automation is moving faster than the pundits predicted.

    When it comes to the intersection of employment, labor prices and technology … the glass is most definitely half empty at the moment.

    What’s good for the “automaters” is presently bad for the “automated”. Raise labor prices and you only worsen the situation.

    At least, show the good sense to raise the minimum wage by something like $.50 per year for the next 10 years (adjusted for inflation) rather than all at once.

  6. http://nyti.ms/1z2grAL

    and robots are going to be used even if wages don’t go up… if it reduces labor costs…

    “You are right that there are many factors. Unfortunately, they are pretty much all running against your theory right now. First, unemployment is a hoax. You can’t logically stop calling someone unemployed because they have given up on finding a job. But that’s what our vaunted government does. Instead, you have to look at things like percentage of the working age population employed.”

    don’t think I mentioned unemployment but I agree with you – except there are jobs available but people are not trained to qualify..

    From the New York Times article, “And over the same 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy’s recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago — and lower than any point in the 1990s.”

    yup I have no problem with that – it’s a fact and it’s going to happen no matter what happens to wages but again – you need people to build, operate and maintain robots.. if you have the education.

    “Again, LarryG – that’s the New York Times not the Koch Brothers Journal.”

    again -have no problem with what the NYT is talking about.

    “Here’s another quote … “Lawrence H. Summers, the former Treasury secretary, recently said that he no longer believed that automation would always create new jobs.”

    Now, what president did Summers serve as Secretary of Treasury? Dubya? No, I afraid it was the hero of the left – Bill Clinton.”

    Neither Summers, nor Clinton nor any politician has caused globalization and the rise of robots – in fact, “futurists” predicted this 40 years ago.

    “These aren’t conservative pundits in conservative publications providing warnings about the tenuous nature of human employment – these are well educated people with full sets of liberal credentials.”

    so? one thing is certainly also true – aggregate demand comes from employed people … so why is Corporate American and the stock market going great guns if people are suffering?

    “”Now, how do you think clever techie boys and girls decide what to work on? They work on what will sell. If a hotel has 100 maids who work 2,000 hours per year that’s 200,000 maid hours per year. If maids make $7.50 per hour then those maids “cost the hotel” $1.5M per year. Now, if we give the maids a 100% raise and they make $15 per hour then those maids “cost the hotel” $3M per year. Suddenly, the value of me designing, building and selling a Jetson’s style “maid robot” just went up by $1.5M per year per hotel.”

    it did – and they will pass that cost on – but people still need to stay in motels – buy rental cars, eat, airline tickets, etc.

    people make choices – and if they need a motel room and it’s more expensive then they cut something else.

    It’s what I’m telling you – it’s not a one to one correspondence.

    “Do you really think that the little darlings in Silicon Valley stay up at night wondering how to make the world a better place? Or, do they stay up at night wondering how to make money? Does Larry Ellison seem like Santa Clause to you?”

    greed drives innovation..

    “20 years ago even the most optimistic computer scientists would not have predicted self-driving cars or software based Jeopardy! champions by 2015. But that’s what happened. For the first time the automation is moving faster than the pundits predicted.”

    Perhaps you don’t remember the Jetsons?

    “When it comes to the intersection of employment, labor prices and technology … the glass is most definitely half empty at the moment.”

    here’s my view – we’ve been living high on the hog because of our ability to control world markets – we’ve always had a higher standard of living than other countries.

    is it sustainable?

    “What’s good for the “automaters” is presently bad for the “automated”. Raise labor prices and you only worsen the situation.”

    I don’t think it matters guy. what matters is the competition and when they can sell something lower than you – then you lose. So the other guy will adapt automation to beat you no matter the labor situation. And remember – in this country – we compete against other countries with lower labor costs. Do you think we should reduce labor to be what other countries pay?

    “At least, show the good sense to raise the minimum wage by something like $.50 per year for the next 10 years (adjusted for inflation) rather than all at once.”

    Here’s my take. If a person is not payed a living wage -what happens?

    Does he get entitlements?

    is it better/cheaper to pay him a higher wage or entitlements?

    how do you vote?

    • LarryG:

      I have been meaning to write a main blog post article about this but have been too busy at work. Given the trends I see in technology there are two possibilities over the next 20 – 40 years:

      1. Severe limits on population growth
      2. Wholesale redistribution of wealth

      So, you can choose:

      1. Aldous Huxley was right.
      2. Karl Marx was right.

      • I don’t believe in giving people money so we have income equality.

        but also know that uneducated people will take entitlements or incarceration costs from those that are educated and we have to decide if we want to live in a world where the better off live behind gates and travel with guards… or something else.

        We do give free money to those who have kids and make a lower income.

        3 kids on an income of 20K can get a 9K refund

        the question is are those 3 kids going to get a good enough education to grow up and take care of themselves and their families and not need entitlements or what?

        what should our goal be?

        I see this from a pay me now or pay me later perspective – not that we ought to be giving money for “equality”.

        Right now – we are trading soup-to-nuts education for kids bound for college while arguing if we should have to pay to educate economically disadvantaged kids – like if we don’t – it won’t cost us later on.

        Do we want a 3rd world vision of the future or do we want something else?

  7. re: ” I have been meaning to write a main blog post article about this but have been too busy at work. Given the trends I see in technology there are two possibilities over the next 20 – 40 years”

    Well, I hope you do write it and I’d request that you address 2 topics beyond what you might have planned:

    1. – what role education plays in all of this – especially for the non-college folks

    2. – reading about drones the other day and how the Navy is saving money hand over fist by planning on building and using drones instead of piloted aircraft.

    ” Pentagon: Fewer Soldiers, More Drones Will Save Money”

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/pentagon-fewer-soldiers-drones-save-money/story?id=15448631

    so don’t you think this huge trend towards automation should :

    1. – save us huge money on human capital in the military
    2. – impart economic harm to localities that depended on military bases with thousands of personnel – now downsized because of automation?

    6000 people on an aircraft carrier – will drop to 2000 if it transitions from most piloted aircraft to drones leaving much fewer piloted aircraft. Aircraft carriers themselves will get smaller – a lot less personnel needed..etc..

    but the people on that carrier will have to know have to maintain and operate drones and other automation…

  8. DR
    is your dog a republican or a democrat?

    • Don – you can’t stop automation. It will be implemented anytime a company can see cost savings by adopting it.

      and it’s not voluntary.

      The thing that business fears the most – is not government – it’s competition.

      The govt did not shut down Mom&Pop – competition did.

      The govt did not shut down textile plants – competition did

      The minimum wage would apply EQUALLY to ALL competitors .. it would not favor one over the other. Competition is what kills business. It’s what kills small businesses in droves – Mom & POP simply cannot compete against the likes of WalMart – any more.

      WalMart comes to town – and 25 mom&pops go belly up.

      In rural areas – it’s devastating. A regional WalMart gets built and all the small towns within 50 miles lose their main streets.

      Look through most areas outside the big MSAs – and the two biggest employers are WalMart and the Govt.

Leave a Reply