Benghazi hearings open in the House on Wednesday, and the New York Times printed a preview on page 16 of Wednesday's edition that downplayed any possible revelations about the Obama administration's reaction to the terrorist attack, which killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Testimony is expected by three State Department officials, led by U.S. diplomat Gregory Hicks, deputy mission chief in Tripoli, who said his pleas for military assistance were overruled.
Feeling reader pressure after the Washington Post led its Tuesday's edition by setting up the House hearings, Public Editor Margaret Sullivan addressed the issue on her blog Tuesday afternoon, posing a coverage question to Washington bureau chief (and former neoliberal economics reporter) David Leonhardt, who didn't anticipate hearing much new on Wednesday:
Since taking over the section, editor Andrew Rosenthal has transformed the New York Times Sunday Review from a selection of liberal-leaning political and sociological analysis into a bulletin board for the far left.
Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of ObamaCare, but if the media were the judges, the Court would rule 9-0 in favor of it. During its coverage of the health care debate, the liberal press never permitted questions about ObamaCare’s legality to interfere with their dream of a government takeover of the health care sector.
Starting even before Barack Obama became President, the press has been campaigning hard for passage of the most liberal version of health care reform as a cure-all elixir to all of America’s health problems. First, they pitched the public on the desperate need to, as ABC’s Dr. Tim Johnson demanded, fix America’s “national shame” of no universal coverage. (Worst of the Worst quote compiliation with videos after the jump)
Wednesday’s “Lessons From The Malaise” is David Leonhardt’s last economics column before becoming the New York Times's Washington bureau chief. It pretty much encapsulates his liberal worldview, while assuming his premises are universally shared.
One of the tricky things about the subject is that almost nothing is certain in the way that, say, two plus two equals four. Economics -- which is at root a study of human behavior -- tends to be messier. Because it’s messier, it can be tempting to think that all uncertainty is equal and that we don’t really know anything.
Leonhardt again writes as if it is all serious thinkers admit tax increases are necessary.
Staffing shifts continue at the New York Times. The paper’s chief economics writer David Leonhardt will be the paper’s next Washington bureau chief as of Labor Day, a move confirmed by Times’ media reporter Jeremy Peters Friday morning. Leonhardt will replace Dean Baquet, who is moving to New York to be managing editor under Executive Editor-in-waiting Jill Abramson.
Leonhardt’s columns in defense of Obama’s “stimulus” package and Obama-care health “reform” made him a very popular man at the White House and among congressional Democrats, who passed around his pieces via email and Twitter.
Chief New York Times economics writer David Leonhardt celebrated the return of Obama the “fiscal conservative” in his Wednesday column, “Negotiating Election Headwinds.”
Maybe it’s not the economy, stupid.
White House officials have begun to entertain the idea that they can run for re-election without being able to point to a strengthening economy. For one thing, they may not have a choice. For another, they believe that recent Republican budget proposals have given President Obama an opportunity to draw contrasts in which he is more in line with most voters.
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.
Stop Spending Cuts or People Will “Starve to Death”
“I stopped eating on Monday and joined around 4,000 other people in a fast to call attention to congressional budget proposals that would make huge cuts in programs for the poor and hungry....These supposedly deficit-reducing cuts -- they’d barely make a dent -- will quite literally cause more people to starve to death, go to bed hungry or live more miserably than are doing so now.” – Food writer Mark Bittman in a March 30 op-ed, “Why We’re Fasting.”
“What causes the lack? Imprisonment, torture, being stranded on a desert island, anorexia, crop failure....and both a lack of aid and bad distribution of nutrients. Some (or much) of both of these last two stem from unregulated capitalism and greed.” – Bittman on his blog at nytimes.com, March 31.
The New York Times's chief economics writer David Leonhardt has won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.
The prize committee praised Leonhardt for “his graceful penetration of America’s complicated economics questions.” The White House and congressional Democrats are huge fans as well, emailing around his previous defenses of programs like Obama’s stimulus. However, the paper's Public Editor chided the Times in January for placing Leonhardt's neo-liberal commentaries promoting Obama-care on the front page, which gives them the imprimatur of objective news.
As documented by Times Watch, Leonhardt's "graceful penetration" generally involves digging into citizen's wallets for even more federal tax money.
New York Times chief economics writer David Leonhardt argued against the deficit-reducing House Republican budget written by Rep. Paul Ryan in his Wednesday front-page Business Day column “A Lopsided Proposal for Medicare.” Instead, Leonhardt called for higher taxes on "affluent Americans"(his reasoning: All wealthy countries do it). It’s one of his favorite arguments for redistributing the wealth.
While admitting the Republican budget was “a daring one in many ways” he faulted it for not reforming Medicare, which he interestingly admits is a “welfare program,” since people generally get more out of it in care than what they paid into the program in taxes. Leonhardt again called for rationing health care in the name of cost control.
A fairer, more fiscally conservative plan would not postpone dealing with Medicare. It would leave in place the cost control measures in the health reform bill and go even further to reward the quality of care rather than the volume.Obviously, these steps would run some risk of restricting good treatments, too. But, remember, we’re facing “an existential threat.” We can’t limit ourselves to solutions without risks.
New York Times writer David Leonhardt is not happy with a judge’s ruling a vital part of Obama-care – the individual insurance mandate – is unconstitutional. In his latest front-page “Economic Scene” column, “In Health Law, Old Arguments Get New Airing,” the paper’s neo-liberal conscience on economic matters compared conservative opposition to Obama-care not only to past opposition to Medicare, but to opposition to civil rights for black Americans.
“We are against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program,” said one prominent critic of the new health care law. It is socialized medicine, he argued. If it stands, he said, “one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”
The health care law in question was Medicare, and the critic was Ronald Reagan. He made the leap from actor to political activist, almost 50 years ago, in part by opposing government-run health insurance for the elderly.
Today, the supposed threat to free enterprise is a law that’s broader, if less radical, than Medicare: the bill Congress passed this year to create a system of privately run health insurance for everyone. On Monday, a federal judge ruled part of the law to be unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court will probably need to settle the matter in the end.
We’ve lived through a version of this story before, and not just with Medicare. Nearly every time this country has expanded its social safety net or tried to guarantee civil rights, passionate opposition has followed.
Wednesday's Business Day column by the Times' liberal economic conscience David Leonhardt is another one for the food police files: “The Battle Over Taxing Soda.” Personal responsibility on such personal matters isn't a large concern in Leonhardt's worldview, as he readily compared lobbyists for the soda industry to lobbyists against tobacco companies and pollution laws.
Tobacco lobbyists spent years fighting regulation by claiming to be defending individual freedom, not the profits of tobacco companies. Detroit’s lobbyists did much the same to push back against seat belt and pollution laws. Wall Street has spent months opposing the financial regulation bill in the name of families and small businesses.
The latest example comes from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the rest of the soda industry, which is trying to defeat a soda tax now before the District of Columbia Council. The industry has succeeded recently in beating back similar taxes in New York and Philadelphia, and in keeping one out of the federal health overhaul bill. But the Washington Council seems to be seriously considering a penny-per-ounce tax on nondiet sodas, energy drinks and artificial juices. Council members are set to vote on the issue next week.
In his Wednesday Business Day column, David Leonhardt, the New York Times's conscience on economic matters, defended the current skewed tax system, in which almost half of U.S. households paid no income taxes last year, and even argued that those now paying the highest rates should be paying even more: "Behind The 47% Talking Point."
Leonhardt never addressed the underlying point of conservative opposition: The free-rider problem, as half of households pay nothing for services that (theoretically) benefit them all, like public education and national defense. Citizens with no "skin in the game," safe in the assumption they will never have to pay federal taxes, have little practical incentive to oppose programs that will lead to higher taxes, like Obama-care.
That's the portion of American households that owe no income tax for 2009. The number is up from 38 percent in 2007, and it has become a popular talking point on cable television and talk radio. With Tax Day coming on Thursday, 47 percent has become shorthand for the notion that the wealthy face a much higher tax burden than they once did while growing numbers of Americans are effectively on the dole.
Neither one of those ideas is true. They rely on a cleverly selective reading of the facts. So does the 47 percent number.
In David Leonhardt's latest "Economic Scene" column for the New York Times, "The Perils Of Pay Less, Get More," he reestablished his reputation as the paper's neo-liberal economic voice, admitting that at a certain point taxes hurt economic growth, but also urging Obama to break his pledge and raise taxes on everyone, not just people making over $250,000 a year, in order to cut the deficit.
Leonhardt has certainly changed his mind about Obama's tax pledge. In a huge August 2008 story for the New York Times Magazine, Leonhardt actually promoted Obama's popular campaign promise to reduce taxes for those making under $250,000, in the name of addressing "inequality":
Obama's agenda starts not with raising taxes to reduce the deficit, as Clinton's ended up doing, but with changing the tax code so that families making more than $250,000 a year pay more taxes and nearly everyone else pays less. That would begin to address inequality.
David Leonhardt, who serves as the New York Times's conscience on economics issues as a columnist and reporter, celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Obama "stimulus" on the front page of Wednesday's Business section, while attacking naysayers as "hard-core skeptics" and pushing for yet another "stimulus": "Success of Stimulus Bill Is Noteworthy as Another Is Weighed."
Leonhardt's column instantly became a gloatworthy morale-booster to sympathetic left-wing web sites like Talking Points Memo and Huffington Post. Even White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs put it on his Twitter feed. But is Leonhardt bashing straw men?
On Wednesday Leonhardt led his readers, Philosophy 101-style, through a thought experiment:
Imagine if, one year ago, Congress had passed a stimulus bill that really worked.
Liberal Tina Brown’s website The Daily Beast as another Top 25 list of journalists today – The Left’s Top 25. (Noel Sheppard noted their top conservatives last week.) Tunku Varadajaran, formerly of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, listed Jon Stewart as the most impactful journalist on the left.
What stands out are the "mainstream" media figures on the list. There’s CNN host Christiane Amanpour, and a trio of Washington Post people, past and present. But the largest force in this Left list is five from The New York Times: columnist Paul Krugman (number 2), op-ed page editor David Shipley (4), economics writer David Leonhardt (8), Times magazine writer Deborah Solomon (22) and Times magazine contributor David Rieff (24).
What will shock readers is the MSNBC deficit: only Rachel Maddow (11), and no Matthews or Olbermann.
The largely positive blurbs that accompany this photo gallery hardly seem written by a conservative. Take the Paul Krugman encomium:
For The New York Times economic scene section for March 31, David Leonhardt came across with one of the most amazing admissions about Obama that I've ever seen in the Times. Namely that Barack Obama is just like Hitler. Now, many of you may be solemnly shaking your head in agreement, but in so doing you would be missing why the Times was comparing Obama to Hitler. You see, Leonhardt didn't mean it as an insult. He was saying that it was a good thing that Barack was being like Hitler at least in an economic sense.
Here Leonhardt is taking the trains-on-time track with his Hitler angle by saying that, despite that whole Holocaust and World War II business, Hitler's policies were good for Germany. So good, in fact, that he celebrates the ways he sees that Obama is emulating the mustachioed mad-man's economic prescriptions with the massive takeover of the economy and bloated government spending on "stimulus."
You know the left has lost it when they are invoking the "success" of Hitler to prop up The One!
As Gov. Bobby Jindal began to offer a Republican response, it became apparent that he would be no match with Barack Obama in the soaring-oratory department. The Republicans really should have tried a gimmick instead. Perhaps Jindal could have simply walked on and said, "Today, the president held what he called a fiscal responsibility summit." He could afford a wide smile at that point, knowing his audience had erupted in laughter.
Honestly, now: Are we quite ready finally to declare the Era of Obama As Fiscally Conservative is over? Last year, Republicans warned that Barack Obama was ultraliberal – a socialist, in fact – but the media handlers typically presented this as a conservative smear. Instead, they painted Obama as an aspiring moderate-Republican deficit reducer. Take New York Times economics writer David Leonhardt last August: "Obama’s aides optimistically insist he will reduce it [the deficit], thanks to his tax increases on the affluent and his plan to wind down the Iraq war. Relative to McCain, whose promised spending cuts are extremely vague, Obama does indeed look like a fiscal conservative."
The front of the New York Times Week in Review is dominated by business columnist-reporter David Leonhardt's "The Border And The Ballot Box," his slanted essay on anti-immigration crusades then and now. The accompanying drawings give the debate the feel of a prison camp, with Americans as prison guards and potential illegals as prisoners, and the archive illustrations on the jump page include a drawing of a burning church, bearing the caption:
Anti-Catholic -- Burning of St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia, 1844. As immigration soared, so did nativist reaction.
Another archive illustration is captioned:
Anti-Chinese -- An illustration of a massacre published in Harper's Weekly, 1885. Chinese laborers were attacked by white coal miners.