CEPR - Center for Economic and Policy Research


En Español

Em Português

Other Languages

Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Minnesota Does Not Have Runaway Spending and NYT Readers Should Know This Fact

Minnesota Does Not Have Runaway Spending and NYT Readers Should Know This Fact

Saturday, 02 July 2011 07:44

It is irresponsible to run a story with a statement from one politician saying it is sunny and warm in Alaska and another saying that actually the temperature is below zero and it's snowing. There are real conditions in Alaska that the reporter should know and be able to tell readers. This information will let readers know that one politician is being largely truthful, while one is not. Reporters who have a job reporting the news have the time to find out about the actual weather conditions in Alaska. Readers generally do not.

By this same standard, the NYT printed a horribly irresponsible piece on the shutdown of Minnesota's government. This article included a quote from the Republican House Speaker, Kurt Zellers:

“We’re talking about runaway spending that we can’t afford,... And we will not saddle our children and grandchildren with mounds of debts with promises for funding levels that will not be there in the future.”

While the article also includes a quote from the Democratic governor, it provides no information that would allow readers to assess the truth of the claim that spending is out of control. In fact, state and local government spending in Minnesota has not been rising relative to its GDP over the last decade. (Sorry, I couldn't quickly find state spending broken out separately.)


Source: USgovernmentspending.com.

As the chart clearly shows, there is no upward trend in spending relative to state GDP since the early 90s and in fact current spending levels are somewhat lower than two decades ago. This means that Mr. Zellers was not being truthful. A good news story would have conveyed this information to readers.

Comments (8)Add Comment
written by diesel, July 02, 2011 8:56
“What are we going to do this weekend? I don’t know. Everyone wanted to go camping.”

It's going to be hard to convince voters that We don't have enough money to keep our campgrounds open on July 4th weekend--but there's enough to pay for cops with radar guns to nail you as you drive around mindlessly. Maybe a brief stint of austerity would be good for Americans. They could sort out their priorities, realize what jerks the Republicans are and reflect on what voting for them really means.
Perils of Moral Relativism, Low-rated comment [Show]
Relevant statistics are spending versus taxes
written by AndrewDover, July 02, 2011 9:47
Minnesota corporate taxes collected (thousands):
2005 925,874
2006 1,061,627
2007 1,171,101
2008 1,020,181
2009 708,194
2010 663,505

Income Taxes
2005 6,341,164
2010 6,530,958

Sales Taxes
2005 4,940,847
2010 5,165,814

Property Taxes
2005 5,375,629
2010 7,720,347

2005 14,528,646
2006 15,542,300
2007 15,947,242
2008 17,005,008
2010 15,054,086

Looks to me like the story is a big dropoff in corporate taxes collected, and a short lived surge in spending around 2008.
written by Jay, July 02, 2011 11:40
The deficit hawks commitment to family warms my heart. They need to cut it out about the burden on our children and grandchildren. It sounds ridiculous. They have done nothing about the escalating costs of healthcare for our children. They have done nothing about the escalating costs of homes or education for our children. They have done nothing about improving the infrastructure to make the next gen more competitive for our children. They have done everything to eradicate job security for our children. Graduates want jobs now and they are doing nothing about that for our children. Their children won't even have grandchildren if they cannot afford to get out their parents basement. Concern about the future is bogus when they try to dismantle Social Security and Medicare for their beloved children and grandchildren.
written by Swami, July 02, 2011 5:06
The House Speaker should be celebrating this weekend. Shutting the government down is about as small as you can make it. Except for those pesky courts that mandate essential services.
The Independent (UK) Reports:
written by Daniel McGuire, July 02, 2011 7:03
The US has exceeded 4 Trillion in its spending on "The War on Terrorism."

"Runaway" must be a relative term of art journalists must use to call the public's attention to severity of the problem.
written by John Q, July 02, 2011 7:17
"A good news story would have conveyed is information to readers."

But..but...but - "he said, she said" is the standard for "professionalism" in the press. That's why the press couldn't tell us that Bush's claims of WMDs in Iraq was BS. David Ignatius of Fox on 15th:

"In a sense, the media were victims of their own professionalism. Because there was little criticism of the war from prominent Democrats and foreign policy analysts, journalistic rules meant we shouldn't create a debate on our own."

Informing readers of the facts means "creating a debate." Can't have that, can we?
MN News also owned by MNGOP--except for a few independent news orgzs
written by fran, July 05, 2011 10:55
The sad truth is that the NYT probably got their info from the Star Tribune, which has a relationship with the MNGOP that is akin to Fox News and the national GOP. Even local public radio and public tv journalists are afraid of them.

The minnesotaindependent.org has been doing the best reporting on this story.

Thank you for this post.

Write comment

(Only one link allowed per comment)

This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comments.


Support this blog, donate
Combined Federal Campaign #79613

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.