NPR Uses Sob Stories, ‘Slash’ Fiction to Keep $31 Trillion Debt Train Rolling

April 27th, 2023 10:19 AM

Yet another fight in Congress over raising the “debt ceiling” or “debt limit,” to meet current spending commitments, has begun in earnest, with Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans demanding actual spending cuts before they begin negotiations on adding still more debt, and the Biden administration refusing to talk until the $31 trillion debt ceiling is raised once again.

But tax-funded National Public Radio barely mentioned that intimidating figure in its coverage, instead playing into partisan Democratic sentiment, handwringing about so-called budget “cuts” while dismissing actual proposed spending cuts as both harmful to the needy and ineffective in bringing down the debt. Meanwhile NPR, like the rest of the press, refuses to make federal overspending an issue, while issuing sob stories like Thursday’s piece on All Things Considered, “To raise debt ceiling, House GOP wants new work requirements for safety net programs.”

Host Ailsa Chang saw a nation of federal dependents:

Tens of millions of Americans rely on food stamps and Medicaid to feed their families and keep themselves healthy. House Republicans want to make those safety net programs harder to qualify for, proposing stricter work requirements for food stamps, Medicaid and some cash assistance programs. Critics say the proposal would do little to boost employment but would make life more difficult for poor people.

NPR’s Scott Horsley was Chang’s go-to expert.

….you can see at least some superficial appeal of rebuilding the workforce at a time when the unemployment rate is really low and employers have been saying they can't find enough workers. The reality, however, is the workforce is already rebuilding on its own. In just the last couple of months, nearly 900,000 people have come off the sidelines and started working or looking for work. And in fact, the share of people in their prime working years who are in the labor force is higher now than it was before the pandemic.

After an exchange denigrating the idea of tighter work requirements, Chang looked for more downsides.

Chang: Well, are there other downsides to adding a work requirement?

Horsley: Well, this would be a particularly tough time for people to lose food stamps. Just a couple months ago, the government ended the supplemental food stamp benefits that were in place during the pandemic. And food pantries around the country are reporting longer lines as more people come looking for help….

Chang also used an expert from the "left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities" to rebut Republicans.

That wasn’t all. An April 17 NPR online story by Deirdre Walsh gave the Democrats a good headline: “Speaker McCarthy outlines GOP debt limit plan, Democrats pan demands as extreme.” A Thursday NPR online story by Asma Khalid was headlined in a White House-pleasing “First raise the debt limit. Then we can talk about spending, the White House insists.”

Another exaggerated headline appeared over another online story on the debt ceiling Wednesday: “McCarthy's bill for the looming debt limit would slash federal spending.” That story at least mentioned the current debt ceiling -- a staggering $31 trillion. Here is Barbara Sprunt and Deirdre Walsh’s summary of McCarthy’s supposed “slashing”:

The proposal, entitled the "Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023," would raise the debt limit by $1.5 trillion or through March 31 of 2024 -- whichever comes first -- return discretionary spending to 2022 levels, and limit the growth of spending to 1% annually.

That's hardly a “slashing.”

The story also warned that if Congress fails to lift the debt limit by early summer:

...there would be an unprecedented debt default, something that would throw worldwide financial markets into dire straits and likely lead to a recession.