CEPR - Center for Economic and Policy Research

Multimedia

En Español

Em Português

Other Languages

Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press

Beat the Press

 facebook_logo  Subscribe by E-mail  


They Are Trade Pacts, not "Free-Trade" Pacts Print
Friday, 23 September 2011 04:43

The NYT referred to the trade agreements negotiated with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia as "free-trade" agreements. This is inaccurate. They increase many forms of protectionism, most importantly by increasing the extent of patent and copyright protection in U.S. trading partners.

The Obama administration and Congress are strongly opposed to free trade in intellectual output. The NYT should not misrepresent their views on such an important economic issue.

 
Can't the NYT Find Someone With a Name to Talk About the World Economy? Print
Friday, 23 September 2011 04:10

In an article on the recent instability in financial markets and the weak world economy, the NYT turned to "a senior World Bank official" for extensive comments about the world economy. The official's comments included no inside information, nor were they qualitatively different from the views expressed by many other economists who would have no problem being on the record.

Many economists have extremely bad track records in assessing the state of the economy, including many officials at the World Bank. For this reason it would be helpful for readers to know the names of the economists whose views are being presented so they know the credibility that should be attached to them.

 
Disaster Relief Accounts for 0.1 Percent of the Budget Print
Thursday, 22 September 2011 04:57
The Post reported that most House Democrats opposed a continuing resolution to keep the government running because it included cuts of $1.5 billion to partially offset an appropriation of $3.65 billion for disaster relief. It would have been worth telling readers that $3.65 billion is approximately 0.1 percent of the budget, whereas the $1.5 billion in cuts is equal to 0.04 percent of spending. Many readers would not know how large these sums are in total federal spending or relative to the deficit.
 
The NYT Has Not Heard About Work Sharing in Germany Print
Thursday, 22 September 2011 04:47

The NYT noted that Germany's unemployment rate is just 6.2 percent and told readers:

"One reason is a series of policies that loosened job protections and put more pressure on unemployed people to find work."

That might be one reason, although most research shows that these measures have a limited impact on unemployment. The more obvious explanation for Germany's low unemployment rate is its policy of work sharing. This policy encourages firms to reduce work hours rather than lay off workers. The result has been that Germany has met its reduced demand for labor primarily by shortening work hours.

The context for this comment was an assertion that Greece will have to take comparable measures to force people to find work. The prospect of work sharing in Greece and other countries facing demands for austerity might look like an attractive alternative to maintain employment during the downturn.

 
It Was Not Just Random Fed Members Who Opposed Boosting the Economy Print
Thursday, 22 September 2011 04:19

A segment on Morning Edition noted that 3 members of the Fed's Open Market Committee (FOMC) opposed the plan to shift from shorter term debt to holding longer term bonds in an effort to drive down interest rates. It would have been worth mentioning that all 3 of the no votes came from the district bank presidents. The bank presidents are essentially appointed by the banks in the district.

The 5 bank presidents who are voting members of the FOMC split 3-2 against this measure. By contrast, the 5 Fed governors who were appointed through the political process (by both Presidents Bush and Obama) voted 5-0 in support further action.

This is a striking split between the FOMC members who essentially represent banks and the members who were appointed by democratically elected officials. It would have been worth mentioning this fact in this story. (The NYT and the Post committed the same sin.)

 
Tax Increases and Spending Cuts in Italy Will Slow Growth, Not Speed It Up Print
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 05:08

In an article discussing debt problems of euro zone countries the NYT told readers that a statement issued by the Italian government yesterday:

"said the government was preparing steps to lift growth and recently passed measures to control public finances through tax increases and spending cuts."

It would have been appropriate to remind readers that spending cuts and tax increases slow growth by pulling money out of the economy. It is likely that whatever steps the Italian government might prepare to boost growth will be more than offset by the impact of its austerity package.

 
NYT Gets Taxing the Rich Story Right Print
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 04:43

President Obama made a simple and true statement in his speech on the budget Monday. He said that there were millionaires and billionaires who pay tax at a lower rate than middle income families.

Many news outlets went to town to point out that on average millionaires and billionaires pay tax at a higher rate than middle income families. Of course this is not what Obama said. He was pointing out that some of the richest people in the country (Warren Buffet was his model), get most or all of their income as capital gains and therefore only pay taxes at the 15 percent capital gains rate.

The NYT gets this right today. Other outlets could have saved a lot of trees and better served their readers if they didn't work so hard trying to refute something that President Obama did not say.

 
The Post Turns Battle Over Money Into Philosophy Print
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 04:07

The major battle line in Washington budget debates is between those who want to cut Social Security and Medicare, the social insurance programs that the vast majority of low and middle income people depend upon, and those who believe that the wealthy should pay more to support the government. Since government policies have led to an enormous upward redistribution of income over the last three decades, the latter group would seem to have a good case.

While this seems a rather straightforward battle over money, in a front page story the Washington Post told readers that this battle is actually about, "contrasting visions of the American idea." There is nothing obvious in this debate about "visions." The debate is being conducted by politicians, not political philosophers.

It is certainly understandable that the wealthy and their allies would try to turn this debate into a battle over visions, since they are hugely outnumbered by the people who stand to lose if their agenda is followed. However, most immediately this is a battle over money. Real newspapers would call it that way and not try to distract their readers' from the issues in front of their face. 

 
Thomas Friedman Is Upset That President Obama Is Not Kicking the Elderly Print
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 03:44

Thomas Friedman joined the ranks of the Peter Peterson deficit hawks and criticized President Obama for not wanting to beat up the elderly. Specifically, he is upset that President Obama did not propose cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Apparently Friedman is not aware of the upward redistribution of income over the last three decades. Nor does he seem to understand that the government just needs to spend money to create jobs now.

The current crisis is the result of the collapse of a housing bubble that he and his deficit hawk friends allowed to grow unchecked. The construction and consumption demand created by the bubble was driving the economy. Now that the bubble has collapsed there is nothing to replace this demand.

In the short-term this demand can only come from the government. In the longer term it will have to come from more a smaller trade deficit as domestic production replaces foreign production. This will only come about from a lower-valued dollar.

The long-term deficit is driven entirely by the broken health care system in the United States. If the United States paid the same amount per person for care as people in any other wealthy country we would be looking at large budget surpluses, not deficits.

Social Security is already largely in balance. According to the Congressional Budget Office it can pay all scheduled benefits until the year 2038 with no changes at all. After that date it can pay more than 80 percent of scheduled benefits indefinitely. A tax increase equal to 5 percent of the wage growth projected over the next three decades would be sufficient to allow it to make all scheduled benefits indefinitely.

 

 
Do You Have to Work for Peter G. Peterson to Be Cited on Budget Issues in the Washington Post? Print
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 11:40

That's the question that readers are undoubtedly asking after seeing this piece on President Obama's budget proposals. The piece featured three separate cites from Maya MacGuineas, who is the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. (One cite included unnamed "others.") The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has received substantial funding from Peterson and his foundation over the years. 

It then turns to an unnamed "GOP aide" who criticizes Obama's "fictitious savings," moving to Robert Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, an organization that was started by Peter Peterson and has received substantial funding from him and his foundation.

The piece concludes with a critical comment from Ken Kies, who is identified as "a longtime corporate tax lobbyist."

So there you have it: two budget experts funded by Peter Peterson, an unnamed GOP aide and a longtime corporate tax lobbyist. That's Fair and Balanced budget reporting at the Washington Post.

 
<< Start < Prev 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 Next > End >>

Page 257 of 397

CEPR.net
Support this blog, donate
Combined Federal Campaign #79613

About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

Archives