PBS Budget Debate: Wall Street, the Right and the Further Right

pbs-debateThe budget agreement worked out between Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Patty Murray is being covered mostly as an encouraging sign of bipartisanship.  To the extent that much criticism is allowed, most of it comes from those on the right, who wish that there were deeper spending cuts. 

There’s plenty of criticism from the left, though. Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America’s Future (12/12/13) pointed out that the deal cuts benefits for the long-term unemployed. The Nation‘s John Nichols (12/10/13) noted that the cuts in pension benefits for military and federal workers means  they “will be required to take what is effectively a pay cut in order to pay more for their retirement benefits.” These decisions were made because Republicans refuse to consider any tax increases on the wealthy.

Interesting, then, to see what the budget deal debate looked like on the December 12 PBS NewsHour. On the one side was Wall Street Democrat Steven Rattner, who has worked for most of the big banks and currently runs his own investment firm. He was mostly supportive, though he did note that “we need to address the issue of spending on Medicare and Social Security.”

From the right, viewers got Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum, which anchor Judy Woodruff called a “policy think tank.” Holtz-Eakin was a McCain economics adviser whose think tank is involved in, among other things, helping corporations lobby against tax hikes

But someone at PBS thought viewers needed one more voice from the right: Romina Boccia of the Heritage Foundation.  So the spectrum of debate was right, righter and Wall Street Democrat. 

A New York Times editorial today (12/12/13) notes that “the details of the agreement show that Republican loathing of taxes and domestic spending continue to dominate the budget debate.” Indeed–even on public television, which, after all, was created to expand the parameters of public discussion. 



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.