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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Does Dana Milbank Ever Notice the Unemployment Rate?

Does Dana Milbank Ever Notice the Unemployment Rate?

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 17:25

This is the question that will be asked by readers of his column complaining that no one is listening to Morgan Stanley director Erskine Bowles and former Senator Alan Simpson. Milbank complains that Obama is only willing to cut Medicare by the $400 billion amount advocated in Bowles-Simpson's initial plan. (Milbank mistakenly calls this the commission's plan. The commission did not issue a plan since no plan received the necessary majority vote.) Milbank attacks Obama on these points:

"But that proposal was made in 2010, and the nation’s finances have since deteriorated."

If Milbank had access to budget documents he would know that the nation's finances have deteriorated because the economy has performed worse than the Congressional Budget Office had expected. In 2010, it expected that unemployment rate would average just 6.5 percent for the years 2012-2014 (Table 2-3). The country did not have a lavish spending spree or tax cutting orgy, it ran larger deficits because the economy has been weaker and needed and needs more support.

Milbank condemns the failure of Obama to support more budget cuts, and specifically more cuts in Medicare, in the face of economic weakness as being unserious. (He also condemns Republicans for being unwilling to raise taxes. Milbank's attachment to Medicare cuts is striking since CBO's projections for Medicare costs have actually fallen by more than the cuts originally advocated by Bowles and Simpson.

Anyhow, for Milbank it is clear that the goal is to inflict pain on ordinary people, throwing them out of work and taking away Medicare and Social Security. In the Washington Post this is the criterion for being serious.

Comments (5)Add Comment
Creditability of The Elite
written by James, February 20, 2013 5:11
Well said; yet, Milbank will continue to appear on MSNBC as an expert to showcase his vast knowledge of current events and major affairs affecting all of us.

written by George Lantos, February 20, 2013 6:09
Dean, the post starts with a sentence fragment. I think you meant to write something like "must be wondering" after Simpson.
written by RZ0, February 20, 2013 6:10
Dunno, Dana . . . looks to me like the deficit is shrinking. . .
Spread this meme
written by David M, February 21, 2013 8:43
Thanks for including the little nugget,
[The] CBO's projections for Medicare costs have actually fallen by more than the cuts originally advocated by Bowles and Simpson
That fact should be thrown in the face of anyone citing Simpson, Bowles, or the other Medicare cutting cabal. "Look, there's not need to make cuts, they've already been made!"

relying on CBO projections?
written by phil m, February 21, 2013 8:00
CBO, that crew and their projections are on par with Mitt Romeney's election forecast team.

“Back in 2001 the CBO forecast total 2011 public debt would be negative $2.4 trillion; instead the real number was positive $10.4 trillion, a delta of only $12.8 trillion. We also won't spend much time on the just released CBO headline grabbing projection that the 2013 budget deficit will be under $1 trillion, or $845 billion to be precise. Instead we will show the progression of the CBO's baseline forecasts for the period 2012 and onward. We will also note that the now-forecast 2013 budget deficit of $845 billion was supposed to be a deficit of just $585 billion one short year ago, a token 40%+ error rate, but in the immortal words of Hillary Clinton: "who cares."


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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.