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

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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.