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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Congress Considers Giving FEMA an Extra 0.03 Percent of the Budget

Congress Considers Giving FEMA an Extra 0.03 Percent of the Budget

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 05:08

In a major page 3 news story the Post told readers that Congress is considering an additional $1 billion appropriation for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to allow it to better deal with the range of natural disasters hitting the country. Since almost no one knows the size of the federal budget, and $1 billion is a huge number to most people, it is likely that many people will hugely exaggerate the importance of this spending to the deficit or their tax bill.

Polls regularly show that the public is grossly uninformed about the federal budget. This sort of reporting is the reason. It is very simple to report items as a share of total spending. Since this is the only way that the number is meaningful to readers ($1 billion is not meaningful to 99 percent of Post readers), there is no excuse not to present the information this way.

Comments (2)Add Comment
sink or swim free market
written by frankenduf, May 25, 2011 8:11
maybe the article was written by ron paul
Like casting pearls before lipstick-wearing swine
written by diesel, May 25, 2011 3:23
Sadly, the majority of people have no clue how to interpret percentages either.

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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.