Paul Krugman earlier today:
Jonathan Chait is boggled by Joe Scarborough…. What’s really striking is Scarborough’s certainty that we’re experiencing “explosive” spending growth, which is very much not the case. How do JoScar and others like him come by such misconceptions? Well, I’ve gradually come to the realization that most of the commentariat doesn’t do what, say Martin Wolf or I do — grub around in published data, read reports, and all that. Instead, they rely on what they heard somebody say the facts are; hearsay economics…. And where do the reputable people get their information? Why, it’s what they heard somebody in their circle say. It’s hearsay economics all the way down…. It may seem hard to believe that this sort of petty small-group sociology exerts a vast influence on actual policy, and that it is actually responsible for millions of lost jobs. But the more I look at it, the more that seems to be right.
And later this:
Just a quick observation: for the past couple of days I’ve been seeing in a lot of places, including comments on this blog, the assertion that federal spending has risen 37 percent under Obama — that specific number. Does anyone know where it’s coming from? Because if I look at the actual data, I see federal spending rising from $3.475 trillion in fourth-quarter 2008 to $3.917 trillion in fourth-quarter 2012 — a rise of 12.7 percent.
Obviously this is coming from somewhere, and being broadcast by Rush or somebody. But it’s still kind of amazing how a totally wrong number can become part of what everyone on the right just knows to be true.