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Heckuva job, Stevie

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It probably shouldn’t be surprising that the most consistently wrong man in America, Hair Club for Growth co-founder Stephen Moore, played a major role in the Trump administration’s disastrous pandemic response:

I’m currently reading “Nightmare Scenario,” an account by Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta of the Trump administration’s catastrophic mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. Much of what they report falls into the category of “shocking but not surprising.” One thing I didn’t know about, however, was the special destructive role played by Stephen Moore, an outside economic adviser.

It was Moore, the authors report, who walked into Donald Trump’s office just days after America went into lockdown to urge reopening by Easter. While an immediate lifting of pandemic restrictions didn’t happen, Trump’s growing insistence that the pandemic was no big deal helped inspire armed protests against social distancing and mask-wearing, and it contributed to a public health disaster that has so far claimed 600,000 American lives — with 95 percent of the deaths happening after Easter 2020.

It goes without saying that Moore isn’t an expert on epidemiology. But he isn’t an expert on economics, either. In fact, he has a reputation among many economists for being wrong about almost everything. I don’t mean that he has made some bad forecasts — that happens to everyone (although some of us admit it when we were wrong and try to learn from our mistakes). I mean it is unusual for him ever to get the facts right, or even manage to land in the remote vicinity of the truth.

For example, in 2014 Moore published an attack on yours truly over the effects of state tax cuts in which every key number was incorrect. And not slightly off: He made claims about job growth for certain years but offered numbers from different years, and got even those numbers wildly wrong.

Another example: In 2015 he wrote an attack on Obamacare in which every main factual assertion was wrong.

Yet in right-wing circles Moore has failed steadily upward, serving as a member of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, becoming chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, and more. Trump tried to appoint him to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors and might have succeeded if Moore hadn’t been found in contempt of court for failure to pay alimony and child support.

And there he was, at a crucial moment in the pandemic, urging Trump to downplay the medical emergency and endanger American lives.

In today’s Republican Party, abject incompetence is a feature, not a bug: less likely of departure from the party line that way.

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