Knight-Ridder’s Washington bureau distinguished itself in the run-up to the Iraq War by challenging Bush administration claims with fact-driven reporting (Extra!, 3-4/06). Now known as McClatchy, the bureau is still challenging dominant storylines.
The idea that tax cuts spur economic growth goes unquestioned in much budget reporting. But McClatchy’s Tony Pugh (3/28/11) documented how questionable tax reductions in state after state have made budget gaps larger—and spending cuts deeper—than they would have otherwise been. Had Louisiana, for example, not twice rolled back income taxes for high earners in recent years, the state wouldn’t have had a deficit in fiscal year 2010 and its 2011 deficit would have been 50 percent smaller.
Also complicating the “tax cuts pave way to prosperity” narrative: The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (1/12/05) found that the states that cut taxes the most as the country pulled out of the 1990-91 recession had the largest shortfalls and highest job losses when the economy slowed again in 2001. That sort of information might not stop the seven governors in states with budget deficits (by McClatchy’s count—3/28/11) who have called for or enacted large tax reductions, mainly for businesses. But it needs to be part of the budget conversation.