Malkin, Katz, and government cheese

MALKIN, KATZ, AND GOVERNMENT CHEESE…. For reasons I’ll never fully understand, ABC News’ “This Week” invited right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin to participate in its roundtable discussion yesterday. It was a reminder that the darned liberal media just isn’t willing to consider the perspective of right-wing activists.

It was largely a forgettable appearance, except for Malkin’s argument in opposition to extending unemployment benefits during the recession.

“If you put enough government cheese in front of people, they are just going to keep eating it and you’re just kicking the can down the road. And just to hammer this point about the unemployment benefits extension again, it was Larry Katz, who’s a chief labor economist for the Clinton labor department, who came out with a study — and there are a lot of these smart economists who say this — that if you keep extending these ‘temporary’ unemployment benefits you’re just going to extend joblessness even more.”

When host George Stephanopoulos suggested that didn’t make sense, Malkin responded, “That was a Clinton economist who said it, George.” When Stephanopoulos pressed further, Malkin added that “this Clinton economist” made the case against extended unemployment benefits.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Cynthia Tucker made the entirely reasonable point that there are far more job seekers than there are jobs. The unemployed aren’t lazy and don’t want a meager stipend from the government; they want a steady paycheck. Extending unemployment benefits helps keep these millions of struggling Americans from being completely drowned by economic circumstances beyond their control.

But there’s another key angle to this: Larry Katz, the Harvard labor economist and Clinton administration economist Malkin pointed to with such enthusiasm, apparently disagrees with Malkin. If fact, shortly before Malkin was on ABC, the New York Times reported that Katz believes additional unemployment benefits offers necessary assistance to struggling families and can even add quick fiscal stimulus to the economy.

In other words, Malkin’s source, who she cited repeatedly, seems to think Malkin’s wrong.

I should note, though, that I don’t really blame Malkin. Anyone familiar with her work probably isn’t surprised by the fact that she warned of “government cheese” and incorrectly cited the beliefs of a Clinton administration economist. The blame, in a case like this, goes to the ABC News producer who thought it was a good idea to have Malkin on in the first place, as if she were a credible and serious political observer.