Media like to dismiss the partisan "blame game," but in cases like this placing blame is something that journalism ought to do.
In coverage of the budget negotiations in Washington, which have largely revolved around how much money will be cut from the federal budget, it's rarely acknowledged that the standard economic assumption is that reducing government spending at a time of diminished economic activity will destroy jobs. As a rule of thumb, every $1 billion in spending cuts eliminates roughly 10,000 jobs. (The Economic Policy Institute provides a slightly more sophisticated explanation here.) Given the the public consistently tells pollsters that job creation should be the country's top priority–often picked over deficit reduction by wide margins–this information should be included in […]
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 […]
On CBS's Face the Nation (1/9/11), host Bob Schieffer declared: Democracy's arguments have never been pretty, but technology has changed the American dialogue because we can now know of problems instantly. We expect answers immediately and when we don't get them, we let everyone know in no uncertain terms. We scream and shout, hurl charges without proof. Those on the other side of the argument become not opponents but enemies. Dangerous inflammatory words are used with no thought of consequence. Schieffer singled out one exceptional political leader: "In an eloquent statement, the new Republican House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday's […]
The Washington Post's account(1/6/11) of John Boehner's first day as Speaker of the House could have been a press release from Boehner's office. The headline was "A Modest Boehner Takes Congress's Most Powerful Office." Post readers learned that"Boehner tends to shun big moments such as these. He's more at home on the golf course with his rank-and-file buddies." He's just one of us! The Post adds: About 500 of Boehner's constituents, including family friends from the Cincinnati area, came to see him sworn in. Many of them, as well as some D.C. lobbyists, came through his office late Wednesday morning […]
There's a simple way of looking at the debate over the Bush tax cuts. The White House and most Democrats say they want to extend them for the vast majority of the population, but keep higher rates in place for families making over $250,000 a year. Republicans seem to know that "Keep Taxes Rates Low for the Rich!"isn't a winner, politically speaking. So they argue that these tax increases are really going to punish "small businesses." There's ample evidence that this is mostly untrue–the number of "small businesses" that would affected is somewhere between 2 percent and 5 percent, depending […]
The New York Times' reporter on the climate beat, Andrew Revkin, had a front-page story this weekend (11/20/09) detailing the contents of climate scientists' private emails discussing global warming. Predictably, the emails are being taken out of context by climate change deniers–but more interesting to me is the fact that the focus is on the content of the emails, not on the fact that they were illegally obtained. That's not the way corporate media handled the illegally taped cell phone call between Newt Gingrich, John Boehner and other Republican congressmembers in which Gingrich violated the terms of a ethics sanction […]
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman helpfully debunks (1/26/09) some of the more tendentious and misleading criticisms of the White House's economic stimulus package. Here's one such trope: First, thereÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢s the bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created. Why is it bogus? Because it involves taking the cost of a plan that will extend over several years, creating millions of jobs each year, and dividing it by the jobs created in just one of those years. ItÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢s as if an opponent of the school lunch program were to take an estimate of the cost […]