The New York Times's chief economics writer David Leonhardt proposed his usual solution – tax hikes – to the ongoing budget and debt-ceiling battles between congressional Republicans and President Obama in his confidently titled Wednesday column “Why Taxes Will Rise In the End.” Leonhardt struggled to ponder why his fellow citizens stubbornly refuse to raise the debt ceiling.
Polls show that most Americans are opposed to raising the federal debt ceiling. Even when the Pew Research Center included the consequences in its question -- a national default that would damage the economy -- slightly more people were against raising the ceiling than were for it.
How could this be? Above all, I think it reflects a desire to return to the good old days. Not so long ago, nobody was talking about tax increases or Medicare cuts, and the federal budget seemed to be in fine shape. If only we could get back to the past -- get spending under control, as the cliché goes -- we’d be O.K. The debt ceiling, with its harsh finality, offers the chance.
Unfortunately, this nostalgic view depends on a misunderstanding of the budget. It imagines a budget in which the United States indefinitely has the world’s highest medical costs, its largest military, an aging population and, nonetheless, taxes that are among the world’s lowest. Economists have a name for that combination: a free lunch.
New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes’s latest front-page story on the budget battle displayed typical Times’s labeling bias, with “angry conservatives” but no liberals. Calmes also paid the Republican leadership a backhanded compliment for trying to stop their conservative base from provoking a financial crisis.
On Tuesday, Calmes claimed on the front page that Obama was “repositioning” himself as a centrist (after years of the Times insisting he already was one).
As a result of Scott Pelley's interview with President Obama on the "CBS Evening News" Tuesday, the media are once again scaring seniors with the absurd notion Social Security checks won't go out in August if the debt ceiling isn't raised.
An examination of the video and transcript of the relevant sections of this exchange bring into question whether or not that's actually what the President said (video follows with transcript and commentary):
President Barack Obama told CBS News today that there may not be enough money in the U.S. Treasury to cover Social Security checks after Aug. 3 if Congress does not agree to lift the legal limit on the federal debt and allow his administration to borrow more money.
"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama told CBS News anchor Scott Pelley in an interview.
Some people can spot a slight in every compliment, whereas others — the happy ones — find a compliment in every slight. So last week, as a free-market, low-taxes, constitutional conservative, I happily found an apparently unintended compliment from the liberal New Republic.
It is not often that I agree with the central attack line of my sometimes media sparring partner, The New Republic's Ed Kilgore. But in his effort at a hit piece last week on Michele Bachmann and her stand for "constitutional conservatism," what he thinks is an effective attack on us constitutional conservatives, I take as a badge of honor.
In a relatively inoffensive interview with President Barack Obama for Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Scott Pelley implied the Tea Party (and maybe congressional liberals too) should be blamed for blocking a debt ceiling deal (“Isn't the problem that a large number of the Members of Congress will not follow your leadership or the Republican leadership?”) and fondly recalled how “it wasn't that long ago when compromise in Washington was considered a virtue, not a vice.”
Pelley touted how “Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but they respected each other, they liked each other and they got things done.” That allowed Obama to use Reagan to scold conservatives: “If Ronald Reagan could compromise, why wouldn't folks who idolize Ronald Reagan be willing to engage in those same kinds of compromises?”
On Tuesday's Morning Joe on MSNBC. co-host Mika Brzezinski harshly criticized Republicans for not caving on tax increases to make a debt-limit deal.
"I think the Republicans look stupid and mean. I'm sorry, this is stupid. This is a no-brainer in terms of a deal. This is a no brainer and they look mean and they look difficult and they're going to lose this," she said. Video is below...
For the last three years we’ve been told by the Times and the rest of the media Obama was in fact a “pragmatic” centrist, unlike the conservative George W. Bush. Why would Obama have to "reposition" himself to ground he already occupied?
President Obama made no apparent headway on Monday in his attempt to forge a crisis-averting budget deal, but he put on full display his effort to position himself as a pragmatic centrist willing to confront both parties and address intractable problems.
Wannabe liberal reporters in J-school could use Alex Altman's July 11 Swampland blog post at Time.com as a template for biased coverage of the federal budget battle.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is a "hard-line" conservative aligned with House Republican freshmen "who would rather risk economic catastrophe than give ideological ground" by agreeing to tax increases, Altman informed readers yesterday.
Of course Altman worked hard to avoid the T-word, latching on to the euphemism "revenue increases" to refer to tax hikes and not once examined if there are hard-liners in the White House or on the Democratic side of the aisle when it comes to reaching a debt ceiling deal.
CNN's Anderson Cooper and Gloria Borger took turns casting President Barack Obama as the centrist 'adult' in a room teeming with unruly Republican children who would rather invite economic calamity than compromise on a debt-reduction plan.
Discussing a topic that would have made a perfect "Keeping Them Honest" segment, Cooper insisted, incorrectly, on Monday's "AC 360" that the Democratic president has never raised taxes since taking office in 2009: "Now, in fact the stimulus was about one-third tax cuts. So in fairness, he did not raise taxes. He and Congress later passing a payroll tax holiday that is in effect right now. A year later he and Congress did approve tax breaks to help employers hire more people."
According to Politifact, Cooper is way off base in claiming the president "did not raise taxes."
Monday’s New York Times front-page story by Motoko Rich, “Economy Faces a Jolt as Benefit Checks Run Out,” portrayed massive government spending on unemployment benefits and food stamps as an economic plus, not a potential drain, warning that cutting that funding would be a drag on the fragile recovery.
An extraordinary amount of personal income is coming directly from the government.
On Sunday’s World News on ABC, correspondent Jonathan Karl suggested that Democrats in the House, rather than take a political position based on principle, refuse to vote for a budget plan that would reform Medicare because they wish to use Medicare to run against Republicans and take back the House.
As Karl recounted that he had recently spoken with House Democratic leaders, it is unclear whether he meant that one of the leaders had actually made this admission to him, or whether his assertion was his own perception. Karl:
On Monday's Early Show, CBS's Susan Koeppen profiled a doctor who hyped that "people are dying because they don't have simple access" to health care and spotlighted two of his patients who chronicled their difficulties with the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Koeppen also failed to mention the liberal leanings of an organization she labeled as merely "an advocacy group for health care consumers."
Anchor Erica Hill introduced the consumer correspondent's report by noting that "a new proposal would cut reimbursement rates for doctors who accept Medicare by 30% in 2012...the potential cuts are raising concerns for the more than 100 million Americans who rely on the program, as well as the doctors who treat them." Koeppen then led her segment with Dr. David Ansell's "people are dying" clip and described how the Rush University Medical Center physician "has been treating patients who can't get help anywhere else."
That was the attitude of CNN's Candy Crowley on yesterday's State of the Union. She acted like if only the Republicans were "reasonable" and accepted some "revenue" enhancements, then a deficit deal could be cut. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy set her straight on why the deal as presented was unacceptable. Oh, Candy tried and tried to make a deficit deal agreement seem reasonable but McCarthy kept knocking her assertions out of the ball park as you can see in the interview video below the fold. Candy led off by accusing House Speaker John Boehner of engaging in a "bargaining ploy" instead of serious negotiation. McCarthy hit that accusation out of the ballpark while simultaneously stressing the sad state of the current unemployment situation in this country:
President Barack Obama and congressional leaders seeking to negotiate a deal to increase the legal limit on the federal government's debt, would need to agree to increase that debt by $615.865 billion between now and Sept. 30, just to keep the government going at current spending levels, according to the CBO's latest estimate of the fiscal 2011 deficit and the Treasury Department's latest accounting of the federal debt.
President Obama’s budget blueprint may have been unanimously rejected by Congress in late May, but suddenly the president is the courageous, ambitious one on budget talks after issuing new rhetoric indicating a willingness to make cuts in social programs like Medicare.
In his Sunday front-page story, “House Speaker Is Pulling Back On Deficit Deal – $4 Trillion Plan Stalls Over Tax Increase,” congressional reporter Carl Hulse (pictured) continued to shade his own word choices in a pro-Democratic direction. Though the headline accurately stated that the stumbling block in negotiations are Democratic calls for a “tax increase,” Hulse reliably avoided the unpopular phrase in his report. The text box also underlined the idea of Obama the risk-taker: “An attempt at something big that some Republicans found too big.”
In their Sunday evening coverage of the Minnesota government shutdown, Associated Press reporters Steve Karnowski and Amy Forliti failed to mention any form of the word "tax," failed to mention "spending" in the context of government outlays, and fretted that a prolonged shutdown might cause a "brain drain" from state government.
The failure to bring up taxes is clearly the item's most egregious oversight, since the shutdown is all about taxes, specifically Democratic Governor Mark Dayton's refusal to sign a state budget that doesn't contain tax increases on high income-earners.
David Gregory decided to have a very fair and balanced roundtable discussion at the conclusion of Sunday's "Meet the Press" exclusively with the perilously liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson and the equally left-leaning Chuck Todd of NBC News.
With the subject being Newsweek's new cover story about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Todd mysteriously made the case for how slim her chances of winning the GOP presidential nomination were by claiming, "Rush Limbaugh is an incredibly influential figure in the Republican Party, and he could never win the Republican nomination" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Democrat strategist and ABC contributor Donna Brazile on Sunday predictably blamed the current debt ceiling impasse on Republicans and their refusal to raise taxes.
This led George Will to state what would be obvious to all media members if they weren't so in the tank for Barack Obama, namely that he and his Party have been kicking the deficit can down the road so long they're guilty of "can abuse" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Bob Woodward thinks the world doesn't hold the United States in very high regard anymore.
Appearing on the syndicated "Chris Matthews Show" this weekend, the Washington Post's most recognizable journalist said, "I’m not sure the United States has been looked at as the grown-up nation for a long time...You travel around the world a little bit, and, and there’s, there’s not even tough love for the United States" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Given the opportunity to directly relay the two sentences of House Speaker John Boehner's statement on the status of debt-ceiling and budget negotiations tonight, the Associated Press's Andrew Taylor and Jim Kuhnhenn, in their 9:29 p.m. report (saved here at my web host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) disgracefully cut the Speaker's statement off after its first sentence and inserted seven paragraphs designed to minimize its full impact, leaving readers unaware of Boehner's full statement with the impression that its second sentence was uttered sometime and somewhere else.
Bill Maher on Friday proudly equated the Casey Anthony verdict with Republican thinking.
Unfortunately for him, conservative author Ann Coulter was present, and when she got the chance to respond during the internet-only Overtime segment of HBO's "Real Time," she nicely exposed some of the host's most delicious hypocrisies (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Amid all of the spurious talk about "tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires" (defined incongruously by the left as anyone with income of over $200,000), the Obama administration and its media lackeys are trying to raise support for an increase in taxes on corporate jets.
It's well-known that the amount of money that potentially would be raised by closing this loophole is miniscule, it'd take 5,000 years for it to equal the new debt added just last year, but since we're talking about tax cuts for the wealthy, it's worth noting that the Hollywood Left actually has managed to get a significant number of tax deductions to promote television and movie production. Magically, however, we aren't seeing much discussion about closing these tax loopholes from the elite media.
Looking for updates on the Connecticut state budget mess earlier this afternoon, I searched the Associated Press's national site on the last name of Democratic Nutmeg State Governor Dannel Malloy, and found nothing recent (graphic saved here for future reference).
But there were two stories originating from the state which the wire service, the nation's de facto news gatekeeper, deemed worthy of national attention. Brace yourself.