Cincinnati Reporter Frets Over 'So Drastic' Cuts, Govt. Shutdown

Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Malia Rulon seems to have misplaced her objectivity when she prepared a February 21 front-page report on legislation passed by the House that would reduce projected spending during the current fiscal year by $61 billion. Later in this post, I will present evidence showing that Ms. Rulon's objectivity has likely been missing in action for many years.

This amount represents about 1.6% of the administration's $3.819 trillion spending estimate. If implemented, this year's $3.758 trillion in spending would still be over $1 trillion more than was spent just four years ago in fiscal 2007, as seen below:

USadjAdtuals2007to2010andProj2011to2013

See how Ms. Rulon describes these spending reductions in her report (HT Virtuous Republic; scary words in bold):

Is John Boehner pushing Congress toward government shutdown?
Speaker caught between a rock (GOP elements demanding steeper cuts) and a hard place (Dems)

 

John Boehner has said from the start of his tenure as speaker of the House that he doesn't want a government shutdown, but conservative lawmakers and tea party freshmen have put him in a position that could lead to just that.

 

A spending bill that would fund the federal government until October is being debated in Congress. The version that passed the Republican-controlled House on Saturday makes more than $61 billion in cuts that are so drastic it's unlikely that the Democrat-controlled Senate will approve it.

 

Democrats have said such deep cuts would harm the fragile economic recovery. And President Barack Obama has already threatened to veto the House version, which makes cuts to several of the president's top priorities, such as a school reform program he has championed and money to implement his health care law and a recently passed financial reform bill.

 

If an agreement isn't reached by March 4, the date on which the temporary federal budget measure expires, the government could shut down.

 

The only way around the deadline is if Congress were to pass an extension to that date, but any extension would have to come from the House, and Boehner made it clear last week that he won't allow a short-term extension that keeps government funding at the level that it is now, a statement that sent shock waves across Washington.

 

"I am not going to move any kind of short-term (spending bill) at current levels," the West Chester Republican said. "When we say we are going to cut spending, read my lips: We are going to cut spending."

Ms. Rulon "shock waves" reference completely ignores the fact that the previous Congress led by Nancy Pelosi, in an unprecedented action, refused to pass a fiscal 2011 budget and simply left town. Almost five months in, the government is still operating on autopilot and, as seen above, spending has gone wild.

Other all too predictable elements of bias in Rulon's report include these:

  • She quotes Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution without tagging him or his think tank as liberal.
  • She quotes Ohio State University political science professor Herb Asher, also without applying the liberal tag, one that The Machavellian found is proven by Asher's extensive record of left-predominant political contributions.
  • After her "so drastic" claim, she blows right past Mann's assertion that "(This is) High drama over something that will have a trivial effect on the deficit" without noting the irony.

In a follow-up post at the Virtuous Republic, The Machiavellian unearthed an interesting factoid at the web site of the Federal Election Commission:

MaliaRulonFECforACTcontrib2004

Imagine that.

For those who don't recall the organization to which Rulon contributed, here is a portion of America Coming Together's Wikipedia entry:

America Coming Together (ACT) was a liberal, political action, 527 group dedicated to get-out-the-vote activities. ACT did not specifically endorse any political party, but mostly worked on behalf of Democratic candidates. It was the largest 527 group in 2004 and was planning to be involved in future races. The group was primarily funded by Peter Lewis, George Soros, and labor unions, especially the Service Employees International Union, and was led by Steve Rosenthal, a former political director of the AFL-CIO.

 

... The Federal Election Commission announced on August 29, 2007, that it had reached a settlement agreement with ACT for violations of various federal campaign finance laws during the 2004 US presidential campaign. ACT has agreed to pay $775,000 in fines.

The Machiavellian makes clear that only Rulon can tell us whether her contribution would have been considered a conflict of interest at the time with the organizations for which she was providing content.

Matt Bai's New York Times piece from July 25, 2004 ("Wiring the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy") pretty much shreds Wiki's "nonpartisan" claim:

Into this vacuum rushes money -- and already it is creating an entirely new kind of independent force in American politics. Led by Soros and Lewis, Democratic donors will, by November, have contributed as much as $150 million to a handful of outside groups -- America Coming Together, the Media Fund, MoveOn.org -- that are going online, door to door and on the airways in an effort to defeat Bush. These groups aren't loyal to any one candidate, and they don't plan to disband after the election; instead, they expect to yield immense influence over the party's future, at the very moment when the power of some traditional Democratic interest groups, like the once mighty manufacturing unions, is clearly on the wane.

Obviously, ACT was all about electing liberals and Democrats. Obviously, though the amount is nominal, Rulon's contribution betrays a desire, at least at the time, to see liberals and Democrats elected.

The Machiavellian asserts, and I would agree, that Rulon's "so drastic" report demonstrates that she still has "a political bias ... which leans left and that goes a long way to explaining why ... (she) wrote what she did on the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer on February 21st, 2011."

The guess here is that what The Machiavellian has relayed is a very small tip of a very large, left-biased local reporting iceberg.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.