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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Be Skeptical, Be Very Very Skeptical in Reading NYT Budget Reporting

Be Skeptical, Be Very Very Skeptical in Reading NYT Budget Reporting

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Saturday, 12 October 2013 20:15

That's what the NYT told readers at the very beginning of its piece on negotiations over the reopening the government and the debt ceiling. Okay, that line probably was not intended to refer to the NYT's budget reporting, but it certainly is appropriate in that context.

This stuff is getting to be a really bad joke. At one point this piece tells readers:

"That suggests a less ambitious outcome for any deficit-reduction talks that would spring from the current impasse. In the past, the general goal was $4 trillion in savings in 10 years that would compound over time."

Less ambitious, really? The $4 trillion referred to in that "grand bargain" scheme was compared to a 2010 baseline that assumed far larger deficits. Over the 10 year horizon from 2014-2023 that baseline would have shown deficits of more $9 trillion (see the "plausible baseline" in figure 14 ). Due to the sharp spending cuts and tax increases that have been put in place in the last two years, the current baseline shows a cumulative deficit over this period of 6.3 trillion. This means that the amount of deficit reduction discussed in this piece is very much in line with, and quite possibly larger than the "grand bargain" for which the NYT apparently lusts.

The reality is that the sharp deficit reduction we have seen in the last three years has thrown millions of people out work and cost the country more than $1 trillion in lost output. It is bizarre that this fact is rarely noted in the NYT's budget reporting and it instead tries to imply that there is some urgency about addressing deficits projected for the distant future that may not even materialize.

Comments (3)Add Comment
Waiter, ...
written by Squeezed Turnip, October 13, 2013 12:27
... I'm expecting a fly in my soup possibly in the next twenty minutes, maybe. Can you give me that guy's soup?
More magic, contradictions, omission in this reporting
written by JaaaaayCeeeee, October 13, 2013 1:58

When nyt occasionally mentions the abyss we face, it's ye olde both-sides-do-it, passive voice magic, " ... global financial markets could be thrown into turmoil if Congress does not agree to raise the debt ceiling." http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10...f=politics

The prior piece, that you refer to, says both that Republicans won't raise revenues, AND that both parties want at least $100 bil/yr of revenue raising (to ameliorate sequestration cuts). Contradiction magic!

Magically, unemployment, wages, cuts to the poorest and economic contraction aren't even mentioned. Yet rising, unsustainable costs of Medicare and SS are at the root of our debt problem, and must be cut (not a word how funding, fixing failed pricing and employment work). Omission PLUS magic!

Not only does this article report proposals for more spending as a tough sell, but lets Senator Saxby Chambliss conclude that cutting benefits and raising revenue makes both sides go ballistic, so not now, no way. News magic!

Will world wide depression remind voters that FDR's four freedoms don't come from ever more spending and tax cuts? Less magical news could help millions of lives being ruined in the USA. Do we really have to shoot for ruining a billion more, instead?
White House correspondent
written by Jackie Calmes, October 16, 2013 9:37
Dean, I was chagrined to read from someone so smart as yourself, whom I respect, this piece that so misrepresented my reporting. This particular story was to suggest to my readers they should be deeply skeptical of any of this talk from Republicans, or Democrats for that matter, about trying again for the elusive Bowles-Simpson-like grand bargain. It was NOT, as you suggest, to reflect that I or the NYT advocate -- indeed "lust" -- for that outcome.
My opinion on that is my own, and makes no difference -- I merely reported that so long as Republicans hold to their anti-tax stance, there will be no deal from the Democrats on big entitlement reductions. That's just a political fact, and hardly expresses support or opposition for those reductions on my part or my paper's.
Furthermore, my overall reporting on the budget has indeed more than once made the points that you claim I/the NYT have not: That we have already seen big spending cuts (discretionary) since the House GOP took control that are counterproductive, and a drag on the economy, leaving more Americans out of work and the GDP growth lower than would be the case had something like the president's American Jobs Act passed into law.
Yet you say, "It is bizarre that this fact is rarely noted in the NYT's budget reporting." I welcome feedback, including criticism, but not when it suggests points I did not make and opinions I do not hold, and most of all when it distorts my entire body of work. I expect better of you.







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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.

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