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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press NPR Does an Editorial for Deficit Reduction

NPR Does an Editorial for Deficit Reduction

Thursday, 02 December 2010 05:10

NPR again abandoned journalistic standards in pushing deficit reduction by insisting that doing so is courageous. Given the wealth of the people pushing for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and the fawning attention that these people get from media outlets like NPR and the Washington Post, it is difficult to see what it is courageous about trying to take away benefits for middle class retirees.

It also wrongly described the deficit as "spiraling." Of course the deficit is not spiraling. The deficit rose in 2008-2010 because the housing bubble collapsed. NPR, like other news outlets, largely ignored the $8 trillion housing bubble. An honest discussion would point out that the deficit has temporarily ballooned because of the incompetence of people who carry through and report on economic policy.

In the longer term the deficit is projected to rise, but that is because of the projected explosion of U.S. health care costs. Our per person costs are projected to rise from more than twice the average in countries with longer life expectancies to more than three times as much.

Honest and courageous politicians and reporters would be talking about the real problem, a broken health care system. They would not be mis-representing it as a problem of a spiraling deficit.

Comments (12)Add Comment
Big Pharma Develops New Drug for Deficit Phobia Epidemic
written by izzatzo, December 02, 2010 7:48
Honest and courageous politicians and reporters would be talking about the real problem, a broken health care system. They would not be mis-representing it as a problem of a spiraling deficit.

In an act of patriotic courage in hard times, Big Pharma has developed a new drug for the spreading epidemic of Deficitus Phobia.

The drug works by alleviating the overwhelming guilt that arises with utterance of the words 'deficit' or 'debt', triggering dreamy images of happy people living homeless in the streets and unemployed - but still ecstatic because they the Best American Health Care in the World.

The new drug is named Eternal Ectasy, has been cleared by the DEA except for import, and is available for free with any branded Big Pharma drug that cost at least $6,000/year.
written by Snelson, December 02, 2010 8:39
I barely listen to NPR any more, although I was a daily listener and donor for years. They have embraced the most stale conventional wisdom in DC as political insight. This is just the latest example. They still have some good people doing good work, (Totenberg) but not nearly enough.
written by David, December 02, 2010 9:54
The right appears to have successfully pressured NPR into being a progaganda machine for their idiocies. The problem with public media is that it's dependent on donors, and the biggest donors by far are corporations and the government. The latter makes NPR susceptible to the political winds. Their leadership's backbone has been dismal this year especially. They're old school Dems: if we just bend over far enough they'll give us what we want.
written by JTM, December 02, 2010 9:59
Dean: I imagine you're tired of pointing out WaPo's atrocities along these lines. Another example this morning: "Deficit commission sets ideology aside". I.e., by enshrining the conservative agenda to give the rich another tax cut while cutting benefits for others. And certainly we must admire the magnanimous generosity of Senator Durbin who finds a higher retirement age for others to be "acceptable to me".
More of the same on WNYC this morning
written by klepisch, December 02, 2010 10:08
And on Brian Lehrer's WNYC show this morning, he posed a question to GOP ex-US Senator Pete Domenici premised on the fact that Social Security was "underfunded" and would contribute to the rise in the deficit. If I had hair to pull out I would; they just keep pushing this propaganda over and over, and there doesn't seem to be any way to get the truth through to them! Seriously, what are we going to do?
written by Pj, December 02, 2010 11:23
If NPR disappeared from the airwaves, not much would be lost in the way of news and information. It has taken a decidedly rightward swing the past few years and needs to go away.
written by umass1993, December 02, 2010 12:19
NPR should be cut from the budget.
New blood
written by djt, December 02, 2010 12:49
The journalism profession needs to stop talking to itself when reporting on issues. Find someone who makes 20 grand per year and is wholly dependent on social security to make a case for deficit reduction. Find someone who is making 35 grand per year, who was widowed and is raising their kids alone, how social security is their lifeline. Stop letting well to do people report or editorialize on pocketbook issues that affect the lower 75%. It's meaningless drivel. I'm in the top 1% and it would make no sense for NPR to have my opinion on social security, deficit reduction, or taxes on the wealthy, since I would so clearly speak my own book. We know what the wealthy want. Let's find out what the majority think.
djt says "Let's find out what the majority think."
written by diesel, December 02, 2010 3:35
Let's see. People work 8 - 9 hours a day, half an hour to an hour for lunch and 40 minutes each way commuting plus an hour in the morning getting ready for work and 15 minutes undressing after work equals about 11 - 12 hours a day fiddling around with one's job. Then they sleep 8 hours with fifteen minutes before and after brushing teeth, hair and such, maybe half an hour in the shower so that's 9 more hours for 20 or so. They watch 4 1/2 hours of TV a day for a total of 24 hours in the day accounted for.

The brain at work is attending to someone else's business. The brain during sleep is on vacation and the brain watching TV buzzes along like cicadas on a hot August afternoon. It may be that the majority doesn't spend much time thinking at all.
written by J. H. McCloskey, December 03, 2010 2:48
"Honest and courageous politicians and reporters would be talking about the real problem" -- a problem concerning which Comrade Dr. Baker just happens to have a prepared speech in his vest pocket.

Well, like the man said, _Travaillons donc à bien penser: voilà le principe de la morale._

Mr. Goodthink, disciple of M. Pascal, always leave out the Honesty, and the Courage, and all the other self-preenin’s, his own or the enemy’s, and confines himself strictly to "talking about the ... problem."

Even to insist officiously that he, unlike certain others who might be named, discusses REAL problems would be a tad _de trop_. According to Mr. G.

Healthy days.

Honesty, courage needed. Basic knowledge too.
written by Rachel, December 03, 2010 9:32
Honest reporting on our broken health care system is not so easy. It would help if there were a good primer, to prevent young reporters from being misled by their media colleagues.

For example, a good primer would show how much American doctors are paid in comparison to overseas doctors, and to many the many American scholars who undergo long training while taking harder classes than med students normally take. Since these scholars work in freer markets, they earn much smaller incomes than doctors do. (I'm not talking about lawyers, often, but that's another market suffering from much intervention.)

A good primer might also explain that the 38-year-old doctor who had "just finished 15 years of medical training" (silly phrase from NPR) wasn't really hitting the books and paying tuition all those years. Most of the time she was making a decent incomes, and doing what, if she worked in a factory, would be called on-the-job training.

A good primer would also explain a little finance, to refute doctors' claims about their tuition costs being the reason for their extreme salaries. It could also refute Uwe Reinhardt, an excellent fellow, but his 2007 argument that we need to pay doctors very high salaries because hedge fund managers make so much more-no, Professor, we need to pay these people much less too. (Another deeply flawed market.)

At a higher level, a good primer would explain that the increasing power of big hospitals can be extremely costly to us. And who pays? Is it "the corporations"? No, it comes out of other peoples' incomes. And more and more, I'm afraid it's a big reason behind the bankrupting of cities and states.

But most reporters don't seem to want to admit that. Mostly due to bias or lack of courage, perhaps. But perhaps sometimes it's due to a lack of primary knowledge.

That said, kudos to those at NPR who commented on the "medical juggernaut" out West.
Nice Polite Republicans redux
written by ThresherK, December 03, 2010 11:04
First, Izzatso's comment was great--sometime's it's hard for him to keep ahead of inanity, and this was a keeper.

Second, have people considered that NPR is more useful to the right as a cowering dog which they can always BS about as being "lavishly funded" and "too liberal"? When there is all that un-factchecked hay to be made lying about the Nice Polite Republicans system, why would a real Republican get rid of it?

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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.