Apr
26
2011

Someone at the LAT Really Likes Paul Ryan

At his Beat the Press blog (4/23/11), Dean Baker caught this in the L.A. Times (4/23/11): Congress is on its first recess since Republican leaders unveiled a plan to end the federal deficit by dramatically changing Medicare, cutting other government programs and reducing taxes. As Baker points out, what the paper is referring to–the Paul Ryan budget proposal–does not "end the federal deficit." As he put it: This is like saying they had a plan to fly to moon because they said they would build a rocket. The whole point is the specifics. How would they build a rocket? How […]

Apr
06
2011

The Washington Post and Paul Ryan's Wonky Math

Dean Baker's Beat the Press is the best Early Warning Media Mythbuster. It's simple: You read it every morning before you read the papers (he is up before you are, trust me) and you're well prepared to deal with the economic nonsense you'll be subjected to. Today (4/6/11) he proposes this headline for stories about Rep. Paul Ryan's budget blueprint: Representative Ryan Proposes Medicare Plan Under Which Seniors Would Pay Most of Their Income for Healthcare Baker writes: "That is what headlines would look like if the United States had an independent press." He explains that the central idea in […]

Mar
25
2011

WaPo Invents Dems' Social Security Split

The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery has what sounds like a pretty important story in today's paper (3/25/11). Theheadline: Democrats Splinter Over Strategy for Reducing Deficit Battle Lines Drawn as More Are Willing to Put Entitlements on Table The piece leads off: Democrats are sharply divided over whether to tackle popular but increasingly expensive safety-net programs for the elderly, particularly Social Security. According to Montgomery, a "growing number of Democratic lawmakers say they are willing to consider controversial measures such as raising the retirement age and reducing benefits for wealthier seniors." That wouldbebig. Who are they? She tells us who they […]

Jan
18
2011

Did We Say Job-Killing? We Meant Job-DESTROYING: The New 'Civil' DC

Under the headline "Lawmakers Aiming to Increase Civility," the New York Times (1/17/11)reports from the front lines of theimproved, post-Tucsonpolitical climate: And the House speaker, John A. Boehner, used the phrase "job-destroying" instead of "job-killing" in reference to the Democrats' healthcare overhaul in a speech to colleagues on Saturday–a subtle but pointed shift in tone, though not in substance. Change is in the air! On a serious note, this would suggest a shift from a mean-sounding,unsupported-by-the-factsattack on one's opponents to a slightly less mean-sounding, still fact-free attack on the Democrats and the Obama White House. As Dean Baker wrote at […]

Jan
06
2011

Greedy Public Workers and Fat Pensions? Try Again

There's been a spate of reporting and commentary attacking public workers for having lavish pensions that are bankrupting various states. CBS's 60 Minutes got into the act in December with a report (12/19/10) that was criticized for lionizing Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (obviously this came before his snow troubles) for his attacks on public workers (particularly school teachers). The New York Times featured an article by Michael Powell on January 2 headlined "Public Workers Face Outrage as Budget Crises Grow." The piece focused primarily on these pension plans, some of which "dangle perilously close to bankruptcy." The article […]

Jan
06
2011

NYT Should Talk to Those Liberal Activists Who Oppose Helping Poor African Women

Reporting on variousWhite House personnel changes, specifically the idea that Clinton administration veteran Gene Sperlingwill soon head the National Economic Council, the New York Times explains (1/6/11): Mr. Sperling, much like Mr. Obama, is a liberal but with a pragmatic bent. "Pragmatic," in corporate media code, means "centrist," because it's an article of faith in journalistic circles that smart Democrats move away fromtheir progressive base. The Times adds: Some liberal activists have opposed his becoming the director because of his openness to compromise with Republicans, and because he once was a well-paid consultant to Goldman Sachs, managing a charitable program […]

Nov
02
2010

Listen to David Gergen. But REALLY Listen to Dean Baker

The ubiquitous CNN pundit on Larry King last night: KING: Could the pundits be wrong? DAVID GERGEN: Absolutely. Absolutely. It was a wonderful piece in the Wall Street Journal this lastweek by Josh Lerner. He was a really interesting young man who went back to a lot of political science and said more often than not, pundits are wrong. You know, we have a worse record than if you just did it randomly in terms of predicting the–you just flip a coin and you would come out with better predictions. Take his advice, please. But seriously: Dean Baker from CEPR […]

Oct
21
2010

At WPost, Everyone's a 'High Earner'–When It Comes to Benefit Cuts

Rep. Paul Ryan is the Republican leader most often touted as a seriouspolicy wonk.His plan to "fix" Social Security was recently evaluated by the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration. As the Washington Post notes inan article today (10/21/10), Ryan's plan"would slice initial benefits by about a quarter for middle-income Americans who turn 65 in 2050." So why is the Post's headline "Republican Rep. Ryan's Social Security Plan Would Cut Benefits for High Earners"? While it is true that the wealthy would see benefit cuts,it would seem moreimportant to notehow his plan wouldaffect most people. Economist Dean Baker (Beat […]

Oct
11
2010

WPost: The Midterms and 'Big Government'

Sunday's Washington Post (10/10/10) featured a story by Jon Cohen and Dan Balz that led with this claim: If there is an overarching theme of election 2010, it is the question of how big the government should be and how far it should reach into people's lives. The piece is actually an explanation of the results of a new poll conducted by the Post along with the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University. As Dean Baker noted (10/10/10), "There is absolutely nothing in this article that supports this assertion." He is correct. The Post's report deals with the supposedly conflicted […]

Apr
26
2010

The IMF to the Rescue?

A Washington Post article (4/23/10) about the International Monetary Fund focused on the advice it is offering for the United States. The piece notes that this is somewhat unusual. Even stranger, though, is the Post's description of IMF officials as folks who "have a long history of stabilizing economies and solving global financial problems." This might come as news to those who've been on the receiving end of the IMF's advice. As economist Dean Baker put it at his Beat the Press blog (which has a new home at cepr.net–bookmark it!): Back in the '90s, the IMF came to be […]

Sep
14
2009

NYT 'Fact Checks' Obama

The New York Times (9/13/09) attempted to fact check a Barack Obama speech on healthcare. By all appearances, this is in the regular, non-satirical edition of the paper: Mr. Obama opened his 40-minute speech with what he called "disturbing news": a report from the Treasury Department that, he said, "found that nearly half of all Americans under 65 will lose their health coverage at some point over the next 10 yearsâ┚¬Ã‚ and that 'more than one-third will go without coverage for longer than one year." In fact, that is not precisely what the department found when it analyzed data from […]

Sep
07
2009

WaPo Alarmed: Japan Health Insurance Actually Insures

A September 7 Washington Post report on Japanese healthcare claims that "more than one-third of the workers' premiums are used to transfer wealth from the young, healthy and rich to the old, unhealthy and poor." Which Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 9/7/09) understatedly calls "a striking statement": Fire insurance transfers wealth from people who don't have house fires to people who do. Car insurance transfers money from people who don't have car accidents to people who do. This is the basic concept of insurance. It protects people from bad events, transferring money from people who don't have bad events to […]

Aug
24
2009

WaPo Pundit: Mass Transit Good for Others, Not U.S.

"Robert Samuelson Doesn't Like Trains" is what Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 8/24/09) takes to be "the unifying theme from his column today, since his arguments against high-speed rail do not make a lot of sense." In his August 24 broadside against what he dubs Barack Obama's "Rail Boondoggle," Samuelson trots out the tired argument against "almost $35 billion in subsidies into Amtrak" that "the federal government has poured" in the last four decades–with the usual corporate pundit omissions, like the fact that, as long ago as 1994 it was determined that "hidden subsidies for drivers amount to well over […]