Why Decent People Hate the Mainstream Media, Chapter 11,786

Sad news yesterday of the passing, at age 79, of the distinguished economist Martin Feldstein. Feldstein, a long-time fixture at Harvard, served as chair of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers in the 1980s, and headed the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Feldstein was a winner of the prestigious John Bates Clark medal, and the adviser/mentor to one of the hottest young (liberal) economists on the scene today, Raj Chetty.

So how does the Washington Post choose to headline his passing?

Seriously—that’s what you lead with WaPo? No wonder decent people hate you.

There are so many things perversely wrong with the obit that I don’t know where to begin. Maybe with this sentence:

He is considered a founder of supply-side economics, which holds that reduced taxes will lead to greater investment and economic growth.

Wrong.  Just wrong. He supported Reagan’s supply-side policy (as appointees are supposed to do), but if you read his work, he was not an orthodox Laffer-curve style supply-sider. The Post story actually makes this evident, as a careful reader will note.

Feldstein’s views on entitlement reform are entirely tertiary to his overall work, as any fair-minded observer will see. His reflections of the problems and effects of Social Security are not something he made a major emphasis of his career or in the White House, and he arrived on the Reagan team after the Social Security issue had already been settled and put behind them. This headline makes as much sense as: “Alan Greenspan: Headed Commission That Raised Social Security Taxes.” Actually I wouldn’t be surprised if the Post runs something like that when he Greenspan passes. (Or perhaps: “Alan Greenspan: Saxophone Player Who Was Ayn Rand Groupie.”)