Today, on the third anniversary of the enactment of state-managed healthcare, aka the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka ObamaCare, it's worth noting a precursor of what we can expect from the establishment press as the law's implementation presses on. It can be summed up in eight words: "Hype the alleged good. Ignore the obviously bad." Distilled in four words: "Toe the administration line."
Two examples of how the press is ignoring the obviously bad came from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, in its March 6 caoverage of the contents of the Federal Reserve's "beige book" released that day. The Fed's report contained five specific comments, four of them negative and one neutral, about the current and imminent impact of ObamaCare. None made it into either AP report. Many other outlets also ignored or minimized those comments.
On Thursday’s NewsHour, PBS co-anchor Hari Sreenivasan misled viewers in a story about the latest action in Congress regarding the $984-billion continuing resolution -- a spending bill which will fund federal government operations through September 30, when the current fiscal year ends. Said Sreenivasan: “That spending legislation was necessary because Congress hasn't passed a budget in years.”
While that sentence is true, it's incredibly misleading in that the U.S. House of Representatives has repeatedly passed budget resolutions. It's just that the Democratic-controlled Senate has failed to approve a budget, any budget, in more than three years.
On March 20, the Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein reported that it seems Obamacare’s true costs are starting to sink in with its most ardent supporters: Democrats. Despite years of the liberal media reporting that this new trillion dollar health care entitlement will save money over the next decade, that outcome is, to be generous, highly dubious, especially with the possibility of eleven million new illegals being able to apply for health care benefits, the cost of health care will have to increase.
Has Slate’s John Dickerson been replaced with a pod person? If not, the CBS Political Director is exuding signs of schizophrenia – or sheer forgetfulness. While in January Dickerson counseled the president to "go for the throat" of the Republican Party, in today's piece at the online opinion journal he's calling for Obama to court Republicans on a "grand bargain" to avert the looming debt crisis.
Today, Mr. Dickinson used anecdotes and Sun Tzu axioms to convey the point that Obama should not be such an agitator if he wants a deal to solve our fiscal woes.
The original online headline to Wednesday's New York Times budget legislation story, "Finance Bill, Nearing Senate Passage, Would Protect Some Favored Programs," likely captured what reporters Jonathan Weisman and Annie Lowrey really wanted to say, betraying their big-government default favoritism: "Plan That Would Spare Vital Programs Is Expected to Pass Senate."
"Vital" by whose measurement? The article is peppered with similarly loaded liberal language marking "the worst" cuts, and making the Keynesian argument that any reduction in spending would "inhibit long-term economic growth."
If you peruse the Washington Post online, you’d notice that the top five stories didn’t even mention Harry Reid’s egregious comments about the seven Marines that were killed in Nevada yesterday. Likewise, although the fatal training accident itself was reported on page A3, Reid's comments were nowhere in the March 20 print edition.
On the Senate floor yesterday, Reid suggested a link between their deaths and the current budget sequestration. Here's what the Nevada Democrat said which the capital city's newspaper of record apparently finds unremarkable:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday linked the accidental deaths of seven U.S. Marines to sequester spending cuts. All three networks have, thus far, skipped the story. After highlighting the details of the botched training event in Hawthorne, Nevada, the Democrat manipulated the tragedy: "But one of the things in sequester is we cut back in training and maintenance."
He added, "This sequester should go away...These men and women, our Marines were training there in Hawthorne. And with this sequester, it's going to cut back this stuff." These comments came on the floor of the U.S. Senate, yet ABC's World News and Good Morning America, NBC's Nightly News and Today, the CBS Evening News and the CBS This Morning all ignored Reid's remarks (though they discussed the accident itself). ABCNews.com covered the story, but acquitted Reid of bad motives: "Harry Reid Commemorates Dead Marines, Calls for End to Sequester."
Much of the press is describing the EU's demand that Cyprus seize a portion of bank account holders' deposits, a demand rejected yesterday by the island nation's legislature, as a "tax."
I think it's reasonable to suggest that this characterization is designed to minimize the frightening authoritarianism the EU has just attempted. In a bit of a pleasant surprise, one organization openly calling the move an attempt at "seizure" is the Associated Press.
The scare tactics that Democrats from President Obama on down have employed to wring political benefit out of the sequester have apparently hit a despicable new low. In comments made about the deaths overnight of seven U.S. Marines in a training incident in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Dem from Nevada, reportedly suggested that we may see more such incidents because the sequester cuts put Marines at risk.
NBC military correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, appearing on Andrea Mitchell's MSNBC show this afternoon, reported that the Marines have strongly rejected Reid's claim, and that one Marine official accused Reid of "pure political posturing on the backs of these dead Marines." View the video after the jump.
On Tuesday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales warned viewers: "With a potential government shutdown looming later on this month, the White House may have to cancel its annual Easter Egg Roll." In the report that followed, White House correspondent Kristen Welker added that the "event might be in jeopardy....due to the ongoing budget battles here in Washington." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
While Welker simply repeated administration talking points without skepticism, she completely ignored the fact that just days ago, during a Fox News interview on March 15, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney testily told anchor Jenna Lee that while tours of the executive mansion had been cancelled, the Easter Egg Roll was safe: "Well actually, Jenna, again, if you did a little reporting...it's paid for by the sale of those eggs that come out, as well as from donations on the outside, so it's a totally different budget. These are apples and oranges."
At the Washington Post's Post Politics blog on Monday, Juliet Eilperin revealed that the White House has notified participants invited to the April 1 Easter Egg Roll that the event "is subject to cancellation due to funding uncertainty surrounding the Executive Office of the President and other federal agencies."
Eilperin only considered the White House's latest obvious example of "no petty and partisan gesture left behind" a partisan matter when a Republican who hasn't held political office for 15 years objected (bolds are mine):
"If ever the mainstream media reaches a point where they recognize that if we destroy this nation and destroy the economy, they, too, will be destroyed, I think at that point they will start asking the tough questions and helping to move the population in the right direction."
So predicted Dr. Benjamin Carson on Fox News's Hannity Monday (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Betraying his impatience with the Republican Party's insistence that President Obama cut spending, New York Times political reporter Jonathan Weisman sounded shocked that the GOP wasn't simply surrendering its principles in the wake of Obama's four–point victory last November, in Monday's "Republicans Determined To Press On With Air, If Not Vote, of Confidence." (Nice flattering photo of Paul Ryan, by the way.)
A year ago this month, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin stood on the floor of the House and declared that the ideals of small government, privatized health care and rigorous spending discipline captured in the budget plan about to pass the House would and should be central to the 2012 election campaign.
A true "watchdog press would be all over" President Obama's "moving the goalposts" on the federal budget, NewsBusters senior editor Rich Noyes told Fox Business Network's Stuart Varney on Monday's Varney & Co.
Instead, the media are falling down on the job, failing to note how the president has broken promise after promise on federal spending, both from his 2008 campaign and subsequently as president:
There's a reason why Media Research Center sister site CNS News had to put out a story about how much the government has spent so far this year -- $1.505 tillion -- after Wednesday's release of the February Monthly Treasury Statement: Two of the three major wire services failed to report that obviously important number, and the third saved it for their writeup's final sentence.
What follows are excerpts from the respective Wednesday reports at Bloomberg, Reuters and the Associated Press.
The official Monthly Treasury Statement for February came out Wednesday showing a deficit for the month of $204 billion, basically the same as the Congressional Budget Office predicted several days earlier. The reported deficit through five months of the fiscal year is $494 billion, down from $580 billion a year earlier.
That February result was an "improvement" of $28 billion over the $232 billion deficit seen in February 2012. Unfortunately, the two main reasons for the difference demonstrate that the economy really isn't any better than it was a year ago. $20 billion of the difference occurred because the IRS was slower in sending out tax refunds than it was in 2012 because of the late passage of tax-related fiscal cliff measures in early January. The rest of the improvement can be traced to the repeal of the 2-point payroll tax cut which had been in place during calendar 2011 and 2012. Since February 2013 outlays were almost $9 billion lower than February 2012, one could argue that the economy actually did a worse job of generating taxes for the government than it did a year ago. Nevertheless, as would be expected, Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, cited "an improving economy":
Tavis Smiley invited ultra-liberal Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on his show Monday night for a friendly chat about the American economy. Predictably, Krugman used the appearance as an opportunity to bash Republicans, and on a taxpayer-subsidized television program no less.
Krugman and Smiley both complained that the American people have not yet become “sufficiently outraged” over the budget cuts brought by sequestration. Smiley demanded to know why the outrage has not appeared and when it will come. Don’t worry, Krugman reassured him, pain from the sequester will take time to kick in. The outrage will come once people start losing essential government services. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Lowrey, who on March 2 called the hard-to-detect budget cuts of sequestration "painful and stupid," gave the game away in her lead sentence, signaling that she doesn't really think that enormous debt is much of a crisis:
In an interview with former Bill Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos at ABC (transcript here), President Barack Obama claimed that “We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt." Despite his claim, no one can know that for sure, but it's at least consistent with what he said during the 2012 presidential campaign ("we don't have to worry about it short term").
Obama's elaboration on the debt topic, however, was not consistent: "In fact, for the next ten years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place." Ten years is long-term by any reasonable definition. His statement directoly contradicts what he said In October 2012: "... it is a problem long term and even medium term." Of course, ABC's subsequent coverage of that interview by Jonathan Karl didn't note the President's change of tune, and went further to assist Obama by presenting a misleading visual and by misstating the relative size of this year's officially projected deficit to that seen in fiscal 2009.
Back in February, I noted the Washington Post’s egregious omission of Senate Democrats as a category in a poll gauging the blame game if sequestration went into effect. Sequestration was an initiative spearheaded by the Obama White House, which is part of the story that has many on the left ripping liberal journalism icon Bob Woodward for reporting. Well, what do you know, in a new poll, the Post once again decided to leave the Democratic-run Senate off the hook, failing to ask respondents what they think about Senate Dems' handling of economic policy.
This is incredibly odd as it’s been way over 1,000 days since the Senate has presented, much less acted on a budget, something the liberal media would have ceaselessly hammered Republicans for had they been in control of the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress and done the same.
In Monday's New York Times, in a report which appeared online late Sunday, reporters Richard W. Stevenson and John Harwood devoted considerable space to the idea that President Obama's latest "outreach" effort is primarily an attempt to "salvage a big deficit-reduction deal," and not a political ploy to show voters in the 2014 congressional elections that he's really interested in achieving a compromise when no genuine desire exists.
Steven Hayes at the Weekly Standard believes it's the latter ("For Obama, It's All About 2014"), as should anyone, probably including the reporters just cited, who is on the mailing list of Obama's permanent campaign known as Organizing For Action. On Thursday, three days before the Times reporters tried to convince America that Obama is in deal-making mode, OFA, which self-evidently tailors its message to the White House's true desire went into over-the-top scaremongering mode in an email from proven prevaricator Stephanie Cutter (bolds are mine):
While NBC and CBS both highlighted a quote from an anonymous senior White House official labeling President Obama's recent budget meetings with members of Congress "a joke," ABC managed to leave the controversial remark out of its coverage of the budget negotiations, with Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos even failing to ask the President about it in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
In a National Journal article posted Tuesday morning, Ron Fournier recounted: "'This is a joke. We're wasting the president's time and ours,' complained a senior White House official who was promised anonymity so he could speak frankly. 'I hope you all (in the media) are happy because we're doing it for you.'"
Five days ago, this NewsBuster wrote that Harold Ford, Jr. "seems more interested in cultivating friends and avoiding offense than in saying anything interesting." On Morning Joe that day, Ford had managed to praise a trio of pols, even breaking out the old "my dear friend" line to describe one of them. When Ford employed the same shtick on today's show, Joe Scarborough eventually had enough, sarcastically asking Ford whether there's anyone he doesn't "like and respect."
This morning, Ford variously praised "the great Tip O'Neill," said he has "great respect" for Patty Murray, and even professed "I like Paul [Ryan] too." When Scarborough hit him with his pointed question, Ford responded by saying that he was a Christian who sees the good in all. That led to more ribbing from Scarborough and Willie Geist, who recalled a campaign ad from Harold's Tennessee days in which he posed in a church pew. View the video after the jump.
There are three major factors that stand in the way of entitlement reform and the other responsible budgetary measures that must be taken to avert an eventual national financial catastrophe, and they have a common source.
The first is that too many American people remain, amazingly, in the fog about the scope of the problem. The second is that a certain political ideology refuses to substitute a designated driver for the intoxicated entitlement state, which is driving the American bankruptcy bus. The third is that the leader of this noxious ideology has a further conflict of interest precluding a solution to the crisis, which is that he is hellbent on inflicting harm on the only political party pushing for reform and on successful entrepreneurs, who are critical to economic growth — a key component of any reform measure.
Appelbaum said in an August 2011 Times podcast that "the real problem is that there's this tremendous political pressure to get smaller, and everything we know about economics tells us that they should be doing the opposite, they should be getting bigger right now....it's as cheap as it's ever been to borrow money, invest it in infrastructure, invest it in things that will pay off in the long run, and help out the economy." On Saturday he and Schwartz (who also likes government stimulus) argued:
While you were watching Rand Paul's historic filibuster and the debate surrounding budget sequestration, an economic theory battle was waging between two of the nation's foremost liberal economists Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs.
In his most recent salvo published at the Huffington Post Saturday, Sachs spoke heresy to Obama-lovers across the fruited plain including Krugman claiming that following the 2008 financial crisis, "It was the Fed, not the fiscal stimulus, which prevented a fall into depression."
Charles Krauthammer credited President Obama’s charm offensive toward Republicans to his losing the news media which couldn’t any longer abide his ridiculous sequester “cut” exaggerations.
“Obama’s strongest constituency, which is not the left, it’s the mainstream media, could no longer cover for him without being entirely embarrassed,” Krauthammer observed Friday night on FNC, “It had to expose the one exaggeration after another on the sequester.”
One has to hope that Mr. Jack Crawford of Silver Spring, Md., is pulling some sort of prank on the Washington Post -- as Rush Limbaugh would say demonstrating absurdity by being absurd -- because if he's serious, his 42-word March 9 letter-to-the-editor is the most overwrought missive I've ever read in a serious major newspaper.
Published along with two other letters about the Post's "Hyping the sequester's drama," in the Saturday paper's "Free for All" mail bag feature, Crawford expressed his "hope" that the Post "will publish the pictures of all the people who lose their jobs due to the sequester" much like the paper "did with the soldiers who died in Iraq." "Martyrs should be held up for public approval of their honor," he concluded. [see screen capture below]
With all the talk of sequstration and its supposed "austerity on autopilot" (as characterized at Voice of America -- your tax dollars at work against you), it's useful to look at what has really been happening with federal spending over the past six years, something the establishment press is very reluctant to do.
On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office released its February Monthly Budget Review ahead of the Treasury Department's official report which will arrive early next week. It estimates that the federal government ran a one-month deficit of $205 billion. It also shows that year-to-date spending through five months of the government's fiscal year is up by 2.7 percent, and is up even after adjustment for timing quirks: