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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Politico Uses News Stories to Push Its Deficit Agenda

Politico Uses News Stories to Push Its Deficit Agenda

Saturday, 09 October 2010 21:54

Politico wrongly told readers that: "voters tells pollsters they’re worried about all the red ink in the federal budget, and Democratic centrists have grown more urgent in telling Obama it’s time to rein in federal spending." This is not true.

A recent NYT-CBS poll found that just 9 percent of respondents said that the deficit was something that they were angry about. It is also inaccurate to identify Democrats who raise concerns about the deficit as "centrist." They can more accurately be identified as Democrats with close ties to corporate interests. Their financing base is a far more obvious way to distinguish their ideological leanings.

The article also includes the bizarre assertion that: "liberals argue that it’s OK for the federal government to run up big deficits at a time of economic slowdown — $1.3 trillion this year — because it’s much more important to use government spending to inject some life into the economy, to help struggling families stay afloat."

This is like saying that: "liberals argue that the earth is round." While it is true, so do the vast majority of conservatives. The same is the case of deficit spending in the current downturn. Prominent conservatives such as Martin Feldstein and David Walker have also called for increased deficits in the face of 9.6 percent unemployment.

It is also bizarre that this article mentions cuts to Social Security repeatedly but never once discussed the possibility of raising the cap on the payroll tax or raising the payroll tax rate itself. Polls have consistently shown both policies to be far more popular with the public than cutting benefits. Serious news outlets are not supposed to just report on the policies they support.

Comments (9)Add Comment
off topic
written by david s, October 10, 2010 2:40
I know you don't have time to respond to all the lunacy in the modern media, but Guy Raz on NPR recently trotted out an economist named Peter Smith, who, in a rebuttal to prior comments by some guy named Krugman, argued the following:
-Recessions are good for the economy
-CRA and other gov. policies caused the housing bubble and subsequent meltdown
-all govt. stimulus should be cancelled
-Reduction of govt regulations will spur business and save the world

Where do they find these people? There is the distinct possibility that the right wing has a group of economists who were cryogenically frozen in 1937 and are now being thawed out to make bizarre claims like these.
How did Dean come up with "just 9 percent of respondents said that the deficit was something that they were angry about."
written by AndrewDover, October 10, 2010 8:05
Simple, he mislabeled the actual poll result which was:
9% of those who are ANGRY, say that the Government Spending/Defiicit is what they are MOST angry about.

A big difference, because
-- all "respondents" is not the same as the 22% of people who said they were angry.
-- "were angry about" is not the same as "MOST angry about".

q20 asks:
Which comes closes to your feelings about the way things are going in Washington -
enthusiastic, satisfied, but not enthusiastic, dissatisfied but not angry, or angry ?

22% of total respondents said angry, 34% of republicans, 9% of democrats, and 26% of independents.

Only those 22% were asked in q21: What are you MOST angry about ?
17 Partisan politics
12 Unemployment/Economy
12 Nothing for voters
12 Other
8 Health Care Reform
8 Congress (General)
6 Obama Administration

The american public, for good or ill, is divided about current policy, as you can see from Q32 of http://documents.nytimes.com/n...s-poll#p=1

Which comes closer to your own view?
The federal government should spend money to create jobs, even if it means increasing the budget deficit. OR
The federal government should NOT spend money to create jobs, and should instead focus on reducing the budget deficit.

47% Create Jobs
45% Reduce budget deficit

And by the way, Politico is wrong about Alice Rivlin's probable proposals. After arguing against increasing the retirement age, she says

"Alternative benefit reductions, especially those reducing future increases at the top end of the income distribution, should also be considered, along with measures to augment revenues, such as accelerating the increases in the limit on earnings subject to the payroll tax."

written by Charlie, October 10, 2010 9:10
The republicans borrowed trillions and spent that money on themeselves, now they are complaining because democrats have taken a page out of their playbook and are now borrowing to spend on the public. Look up the stats...Government increases dramatically and jobs leave America under republicans, tax dollars are spent on the middle class and jobs are created under democrats. The main problem we have now with no improvement under Obama is he is a conservative. A country cannot recover from destructive conservative policies when both republicans and democrats implementing the same conservative nonsense.
Monetary Sovereignty
written by Rodger Malcolm Mitchell, October 10, 2010 4:23
"It is also bizarre that this article mentions cuts to Social Security repeatedly but never once discussed the possibility of raising the cap on the payroll tax or the raising the payroll tax rate itself."

Actually, what's bizarre is the belief that any agency of the federal government can go bankrupt. Shall we raise the "Congress tax"? What about the "Supreme Court tax"? Or perhaps increase the "Department of Defense tax." Why can't those agencies go bankrupt.

Increasing any tax, including FICA, harms the economy. In fact, the best way to end the recession is to eliminate FICA. See: http://rodgermmitchell.wordpre...nate-fica/

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Raising taxes - the third rail of the economy
written by mickster99, October 10, 2010 7:27
This is the most untouchable myth of the right and consequently everyone else with the power to do anything. Seems we forgot how Reagan/Greenspan anticipated SS insolvency and happily raise SS withholding accordingly. Reagan, the little known role as the socialism-loving tax-raising gipper.
written by diesel, October 10, 2010 8:24
So, Andrew, 9% of 22% of respondents or 2% of the total, are most angry about government spending. Of the other 91% of the 22% we can infer nothing at all about their feelings towards government spending, unless there are other questions that delved into their feelings in more detail. If only 2% or the respondents felt most angry about deficit spending and we know that 78% are not angry about it, it would appear as though Dean has a point.
written by AndrewDover, October 11, 2010 8:01
Dean's point was to deny that "voters tells pollsters they’re worried about all the red ink in the federal budget". He failed to refute by quoting statistics about "most angry".
written by Don, October 12, 2010 6:23
I am opposed to immigration "reform" (amnesty). This country is overpopulated, and 21 million Americans are out of work.
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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.