WaPo on Obama Budget: ‘Countering’ Conservatives by Doing What They Want

On Sunday (2/13/11), the Washington Post had an odd piece about Obama’s budget proposal–starting with the odd headline, “Obama to Propose Spending Cuts in Budget Plan Aimed at Countering Conservatives.” Republicans have been stressing spending cuts, so Obama is “countering” that with… spending cuts? Huh.

The piece tries to argue that these calls for austerity are merely the political system reacting to the will of the voters, particularly self-described independents:

Obama is sending a similar message, but to a different constituency: the independent voters who abandoned Democrats in droves last year and who are crucial to the president’s 2012 reelection prospects. This bloc shares the tea party’s alarm over the $14 trillion national debt but takes a more nuanced view of how to achieve fiscal balance.

As Dean Baker points out, the idea that voters in 2010–independents or otherwise–were sounding an alarm about the debt isn’t supported by the evidence (though it’s long been touted in the corporate media as the leading message of the midterms). But the point of some of the articles about the Obama budget is that it doesn’t go far enough. Today’s Post (2/14/11), for instance, has an article headlined “Obama Spending Plan Criticized for Avoiding Deficit Commission’s Major Proposals”–a pretty clear sign that the budget critics worth listening to are the ones who want deeper spending cuts.

Unrelated to budgeting, the Sunday Post piece describes Republican ideas on education spending cuts that would

wipe out two decades of education initiatives by pulling nearly $5 billion from the Education Department, including funds for math and science and the popular Teach for America program, which puts well-trained teachers in needy schools.

The point of Teach for America is actually more like the opposite–sending novice teachers to go into “needy” districts for two-year stints in the classroom, it operates under the premise that children are well-served by educators who are not “well-trained.”

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.