Continuing a New York Times trend of hyping Obama’s vague, politically motivated rhetorical feints as a genuine sign of budget-cutting commitment, Wednesday’s New York Times lead story by Jackie Calmes (pictured) and Jennifer Steinhauer overhyped the sudden re-emergence of a budget “plan” from the bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators while providing President Obama a deck of headlines suitable for framing: “Bipartisan Plan For Budget Deal Buoys President – New Talks Are Sought – House Republicans Face Intensifying Pressure to Avoid Isolation.”
President Obama seized on the re-emergence of an ambitious bipartisan budget plan in the Senate on Tuesday to invigorate his push for a big debt-reduction deal, and he summoned Congressional leaders back to the bargaining table this week to “start talking turkey.”
The bipartisan proposal from the so-called Gang of Six senators to reduce deficits by nearly $4 trillion over the coming decade -- and its warm reception from 43 other senators of both parties -- renewed hopes for a deal days after talks between Mr. Obama and Congressional leaders had reached an impasse.
Financial markets rallied on the news. And with time running out before the deadline of Aug. 2 to raise the government’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, Mr. Obama’s quick embrace of the plan left House Republicans at greater risk of being politically isolated on the issue if they continue to rule out any compromise that includes higher tax revenues.
(Newsbusters Tom Blumer pointed to this report showing that it was good corporate earnings that drove the early stock market rise Tuesday, though the rally continued after Obama’s announcement.)
The Times took a while to admit that, headline notwithstanding, there is actually no “bipartisan plan” yet, just a “four-page outline.”
The Senate group’s plan, modeled on the recommendations last year of a bipartisan fiscal commission established by Mr. Obama, calls for both deep spending cuts and new revenues through an overhaul of the income-tax code.
But while its sponsorship by staunch conservatives as well as liberals suggested enough flexibility within both parties to get a deal eventually, it would be all but impossible to turn it into detailed legislation -- at the moment it is a four-page outline -- and pass it in less than two weeks. Both parties were considering ways to use the proposal as the basis for a broader budget agreement if they can find a way to get past the immediate pressure to increase the debt limit.
Then on to the paper’s favorite subject, dissension in the Republican ranks.
And Republicans increasingly are showing signs of splintering. Some conservatives within Congress and outside have become increasingly vocal in asserting that the party is at risk of putting ideological purity ahead of the chance for a major deficit reduction that includes substantial Democratic concessions, including cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spending.
Again: What cuts, exactly? Times reporter and Obama sympathizer Mark Landler himself admitted in a podcast last week that on Social Security, Obama has “been very vague and careful to say he won’t do anything to really change the program in a fundamental way.”