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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Does "Changes" Mean Something Different at the NYT Than in Normal English?

Does "Changes" Mean Something Different at the NYT Than in Normal English?

Thursday, 03 January 2013 05:34

In an analysis of the fiscal cliff deal David Leonhardt told readers that:

"Having won this round, Democrats still have compromises to offer Republicans in the next one, like changes to Social Security."

Actually Democrats, or at least progressive Democrats, are not concerned about "changes" to Social Security, they would be very happy with an increase in benefits, especially for lower income retirees. Democrats are worried about "cuts" to Social Security. It is amazing that the NYT refuses to make this fact clear to its readers.

This piece also inaccurately asserts that:

"In the 2008 campaign, Mr. Obama said that his top priority as president would be to “create bottom-up economic growth” and reduce inequality. He has governed as such."

This is at best debatable. President Obama bailed out the big Wall Street banks, allowing them to get trillions of dollars in loans at below market interest rates. This massive subsidy allowed many of the richest people in the country to preserve their wealth when market forces left to themselves almost certainly would have put most of the major banks out of business.

Obama has also refused to make a reduction in the value of the dollar a top goal in trade policy. A lower valued dollar would create millions of new manufacturing jobs by making U.S. goods more competitive in the world economy. This would provide a strong boost to labor demand and wages.

Obama has also pushed trade agreements that have a main goal of increasing patent and copyright protections. This will lead to more rents going to drug companies, software companies and the entertainment industry, raising prices for consumers. He also has done nothing to reduce the protectionist barriers that allow doctors in the United States to earn twice as much as their counterparts in other wealthy countries, pushing up health care costs to consumers by $80 billion a year.

Of course President Obama has also embraced the absurd claim that reducing the deficit is a top priority, abandoning the route of economic stimulus, even though he knows that the large current deficits are entirely the result of the economic downturn caused by the collapse of the housing bubble.

Looking at a longer list of Obama administration policies, it is very difficult to support the claim that he has governed in a way that promotes the middle class.

Comments (8)Add Comment
written by Chris Engel, January 03, 2013 5:02
Spot on with all the points. But at least the UI got extended. However that entire program needs revamping, perhaps commingling with SSI to help bring needed support to homeless and mentally disabled Americans (especially vets).

I'd also like to add, it seems a bit diminutive for the NYTimes to refer to President Obama as "Mr. Obama". Perhaps I'm mistaken but it seems off-kilter to refer to POTUS with that title.

Also, President Obama has shyed away from stating that growth should be "bottom up". He more commonly uses terms like "middle, outwards" because in PR-speak it's easier to sell the idea of supporting "everyday middle class americans" (since many low-class and high-class Americans actually self-identify as middle class).
written by foosion, January 03, 2013 5:51
>>Democrats are worried about "cuts" to Social Security.>>

The vast majority of the population is worried about cuts to Social Security. Polling consistently shows that not cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is important to over two-thirds of Americans, including progressive Democrats and tea party Republicans.

Only mentioning Democrats suggests there is a partisan divide on the issue. The only divide is between an elite eager to cut and everyone else.
Candidate Obama was more progressive
written by Robert Salzberg, January 03, 2013 5:54
Back in 08, Candidate Obama advocated for raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour and indexing it to inflation. When was the last time you heard about the minimum wage from the Obama Administration?

'Stimulus' is out because word polling shows 'investment' does better but either way, we've had very little of it since the ARA.

Pivoting to debt reduction would have been fine if only President Obama had embraced the truth that Dr. Baker constantly pushes that health care costs are far and away the biggest drivers of our debt.

President Obama is a huge fan of Lincoln's second inaugural address. Hopefully, President Obama's second inaugural won't disappoint.
written by JDM, January 03, 2013 8:25
Only mentioning Democrats suggests there is a partisan divide on the issue.

There's a bigger problem here: the NYT, like most major media companies nowadays, doesn't like to talk about the views of regular people, the public, the vast majority of the American people. They're only talking about politicians here. You, me, we don't count.

This is also part of their abdication of their duty to call out lies. They usually only mention that others disagree with a statement, and again, "others" meaning those they consider important people, not us.
The midde class
written by Jennifer, January 03, 2013 8:36
Many people would prefer candidate Obama to President Obama--personally I am still waiting for the socialist Obama to show up. What a surprise--candidates say one thing to get elected and do something different once they are in office. Nobody could possibly consider this administration's policies good for the middle class with its emphasis on the deficit versus jobs and the "tax extenders"--handouts basically to giant cooporations--that are in the fiscal cliff deal that supposedly the White House itself pushed. If published reports are to be believed it was the much-maligned senate democrats that refused to cut Social Security not the WH--they still have to get elected. Of course if the middle class is now defined as people making 400,000 that changes things.
rope a dope
written by Peter K., January 03, 2013 10:57
I hope his inaugural address is good too. I hope he lays into the Republicans over the debt ceiling clown show.

I don't think he will cave. He will get the Republicans just as he got bin Laden.
the rich, the famous, the powerful
written by watermelonpunch, January 03, 2013 12:49
There's a bigger problem here: the NYT, like most major media companies nowadays, doesn't like to talk about the views of regular people, the public, the vast majority of the American people. They're only talking about politicians here. You, me, we don't count.

That's exactly how I have felt for a long time.

As for Obama not really helping the middle class (or poor people)... He can get away with this, I think, because his opposition doesn't just want to not help the middle class & poor people... the opposition wants to do things that would actually hurt a lot of the middle class & most of the poor.

It's like what I see as the American Catholic dilemma since the Pope's New Year speech, which advocated opposing gay marriage, but supporting economic regulations.
In the U.S., you can't be both against unregulated free markets and against gay marriage.
So people have to choose which is more important to them. Stopping gay people from marrying, or stopping financial fraud & economic injustice?
The problem comes in when a lot of people (maybe most) in that position to choose, have no clue what's going to hurt or help financial & economic stability or justice.

That's why framing is so important.
If you make sure the frame hides the devil in the details...

I will confess something... Until yesterday, I didn't know how the payroll tax disproportionately favours the wealthy high income earners.
Yesterday I read about how the payroll tax will effect my life. And how it works.
I never knew there was a cap, so the common person making lower wages actually pays a higher percentage of the tax than a wealthy person making lots of money.
Let me be clear - I've spent the last 4+ years reading every book on economics I can get my hands on (and requesting my library to purchase them so not only I can read them but others can). So if I didn't realize how unfair the payroll tax is... You can BE SURE THAT most average joes working on assembly lines or behind sales counters, working 2 jobs & taking care of children, do NOT understand this either! A lot of them probably don't even know anything about it.

If there's a problem you see in the Democrat party... The problem is that the knowledgeable people are FAILING MISERABLY to educate the common people about what's going on.
For awhile now, most people have known we can't rely on the media at large to do this alone.
So obviously something more needs to be done.

I try to do what I can to spread when I learn about things like this, to people I know, especially to those in a position to spread it to other people who will appreciate the information (I have someone specific like that). But it's just a drop in the bucket. Clearly what the common people need is a marketing campaign to educate their fellows to combat the misinformation & obsfuscation campaign by wealthy special interests who wish to keep power.
But the common people are too poor to pay for it, and have too little time to do it, after taking care of their own kids (because they can't afford nannies) and working many hours (because they have to).

It's a paradox, or a catch 22 or something.
written by watermelonpunch, January 03, 2013 1:50
I get it now. I was just listening to today's Diane Rehm show (minus Diane Rehm), and one of the guests... I'm going to assume it's the one from an organization that's about reducing government... He said that there needs to be "fundamental restructuring of entitlements".

I know what "restructuring" means.
That's the word that was used when my job was cut on Talk Like a Pirate Day in 2008.

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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.