Ferguson also says that, “But the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 did nothing to address the core defects of the system: the long-run explosion of Medicare costs as the baby boomers retire.”

That’s also not true, as Dean Baker wrote the other day:

This bill proposes a number of mechanisms for containing costs within the Medicare program. As a result the projected shortfall has fallen by almost two-thirds, from 3.88 percent of taxable payroll in the 2009 Medicare Trustees Report to 1.35 percent of taxable payroll in the 2012 Medicare Trustees Report.

Then there’s the foreign-policy part, where Ferguson is baffled by Obama’s popular support there, giving him no credit for the Osama bin Laden assassination or for exiting the morasses in Iraq and Afghanistan

All this from a guy who, as Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal points out, has been seriously wrong on fundamental issues in the financial crisis.

It’s one thing for Ferguson to write this baloney. It’s another for editors at Newsweek to run it.

You get to have your own opinions, but you don’t get to have your own facts, and editors are responsible for making sure columnists express their viewpoint within those boundaries. To run something like this on the cover of a national news magazine borders on journalistic malpractice.

—As a bonus off the financial/fiscal track, read Noah Smith’s take on Ferguson’s neoimperialism, noting that he isn’t an American citizen:

But - and this is why he makes me so angry - Niall Ferguson badly misunderstands my country. We are a Republic, not an Empire, and we always will be. We rejected the mantle of Anglo-Saxon world domination in the Philippines, again in Vietnam, and again in Iraq. And we will always reject it. We do not want to go forth and educate and enlighten the brown people at the point of our Tomahawk missiles, Mr. Ferguson. We want to invite them here, to live with us, to work for us and hire us, to marry our children, to become part of this country. Even, yes, to lead this country, as Barack Obama, for all his faults, has done. We do not want to conquer the world. We want to become the world.

The British Empire is over, Niall. It had its day. We can debate eternally how much good it did, but now it is done, and it is not coming back. Stop trying to screw up my Republic in your doomed effort to bring it back.

It’s worth stopping for a moment to remember, as Ferguson does not, the magnitude of the financial, fiscal, economical, diplomatic, and military messes George W. Bush left for Obama to attempt to clean up.


Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.