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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The NYT Doesn't Know That We Have 15 Million People Unemployed

The NYT Doesn't Know That We Have 15 Million People Unemployed

Saturday, 13 November 2010 18:19

That is the only thing that readers can conclude from its heroic efforts to balance the budget in 2030. This exercise is utterly mind-boggling. We have more than 25 million people unemployed, underemployed, or who have given up work altogether. This is a real crisis. Furthermore, it is worth noting that these people are largely suffering as a result of the incompetence of the budget balancers. (The budget balancers were the same people who dominated economic debate in the years before the crash and could did not see the $8 trillion housing bubble that wrecked the economy and gave us the huge deficits that now have them so obsessed.)

Obviously it is politically popular in Washington to be obsessed by the deficit, but we are supposed to have an independent press in this country. It is utterly loony to be focused on the projected deficit in 2030, when we have tens of millions of people who are seeing their lives ruined today by the downturn. This is like debating the colors to paint the classrooms when the school is on fire with the students still inside. Given economic reality, it would make far more sense to use the effort devoted to construct an elaborate game like this to designing a route toward restoring full employment.

It would also be worth pointing out to readers and participants in the NYT game that the long-term deficit is 100 percent a health care story. If the United States paid the same amount per person for health care as any of the 35 countries with longer life expectancies, we would be looking at huge budget surpluses for the indefinite future. Pointing out this simple fact would at least get people to focus on the real long-term problem facing the country: a broken health care system.



Comments (13)Add Comment
written by izzatzo, November 13, 2010 6:41
This is like debating the colors to paint the classrooms when the school is on fire with the students still inside.

Teabagger One, Teabagger One ... Come in Teabagger One. Urgent. This is Teabagger Two.

Copy Teabagger Two, this is Teabagger One. Go ahead.

Teabagger One, he's on to us. The Baker fellow. He knows. Somebody leaked the source of the news story we fed to the press about painting the classrooms Red State Red to celebrate the elections.

Teabagger Two, Go to Plan B. Repeat, go to Plan B.

Roger Teabagger One. Plan B it is. The new story is that as a Muslim, Obama conspired to create huge deficits designed to destroy the USA when he was 8 years old, as proven by the recent discovery of his childhood picture book of Keynesian Leggo Multipliers. That'll keep 'em busy until we take the Presidency in 2012. Over and out.
The long-term deficit is 100 percent a health care story
written by Scott ffolliott, November 13, 2010 6:59
The long-term deficit is 100 percent a health care story.

Repeat this until notified that this problem has been addressed.
The New York Times Doesn't Care About 15 Million Unemployed
written by gluggau, November 13, 2010 8:55
The NY Times is much more interested in the doings of the idle rich. Today on the website's front page it was singing the praises of a Swedish ex gay-porn star from a socially prominent family who was now the real estate agent to the stars. That's what the NY Times likes to focus on, along with other things that concern those with lots of money: Harvard University, private prep school admissions in New York, shopping at expensive new boutiques in Manhattan, very expensive real estate and renovations in Manhattan and elsewhere, hipster scenes among Trustafarians in Brooklyn, and whatever zips across Mayor Mike Bloomberg's brain at any given moment. All the rest, including the millions of struggling poor, working and middle class people in New York and environs, as well as across the USA? Meh!
written by warpal, November 13, 2010 9:20

I saw your letter to the Colorado senator. I love it. PLease let us know if NPR responds.
It's more than just health care - and your link proves it!
written by Wisdom Seeker, November 13, 2010 11:04
While health care is a critical part of the solution, the link you gave shows that even with health care costs fixed, the deficit is still 8-10% of GDP for the indefinite future.

It's mathematically impossible for the deficit to grow faster than GDP for an extended length of time.

Therefore, something IN ADDITION TO health care must be fixed.

Otherwise, keep up the good work!

P.S. The NYT is interested in Selling Newspapers With Ads In Them. When the public demands newspapers with accurate, meaningful and useful fact-filled articles about the serious issues of the day - and when advertisers relent and agree to advertise in such newspapers - we will get them. Until then, yeah, the news sucks... But it's not JUST health care that's the problem.
Herbert Hoover is back!
written by NewsFromAnnArbor, November 14, 2010 12:36
The dysfunctional nature of US politics is all too apparent. It's as if the Ghost of Herbert Hoover has returned in the form of Obama, our newest "Do Nothing" POTUS. It almost seems as if Andrew Mellon's famous "advice" to Herbert Hoover to liquidate everything and everybody at the start of the Great Depression is finally winning the day in Washington circles. If you want to pose the question, "What would have happened in the 1930's had Hoover remained president, one look no further than the current administration for the answer. These are sickening times to live through. The justification for this, I'm sure, is that this time around, the Fed didn't drop the ball by contracting credit from the onset of the collapse of the bubble; therefor, there's no need for any New Deal type of measures.
written by Calgacus, November 14, 2010 4:35
It's mathematically impossible for the deficit to _be larger than the GDP growth rate_ for an extended length of time. - Nonsense. There is no mathematical constraint on budget deficits. It would not be wise to have a deficit twice, or a hundred times the size of last year's GDP every year for ever, but it is mathematically possible.
written by Calgacus, November 14, 2010 4:40
And you must be misreading the link, Wisdom Seeker. I hardly think Dean Baker would misinterpet his own graphs. They show dangerously big surpluses if health care is fixed, just as he said.
written by bailey, November 14, 2010 9:53
We DO "have an independent press in this country"! The Press is free to make up events, misinterpret events & lie about events just as it always has.
So, at the least, let's rant about what's really bothering us.
Keep Social Security out of it
written by Quiddity, November 14, 2010 12:50
Lumping the stand-alone Social Security program with the budget makes it much easier to hack away at it in order to "fix the budget shortfall".
NY Times Board of Directors
written by tom volscho, November 14, 2010 1:02
The inattention of the NY Times flows from the class interests of those who RUN the NY Times.

The NY Times Board of Directors, the vast majority, have a past or current position on Wall Street. Let's list some of the firms and positions of of BoD.

-Salomon Bros.,
-a "therapist" who "has a private consulting practice working with multigenerational family businesses and families who share substantial assets,"
-Charles Schwab
-a Silicon Valley Venture capital firm
-asset management firm
The media blindly follows politicians lead
written by The Quackling, November 15, 2010 6:18

I agree wholeheartedly. The media needs to be independent of politicians and focus on the issues that concern the public. Instead, they are creating a frenzy of secondary issues. Over at quacklings.com I have linked to your assessment. Keep up the good work!
The Media
written by Jeff Zink, November 15, 2010 9:33
The NYT must please advertisers. That is where most of its revenue comes from. Much of the media's job is to bring an audience to advertisers. To do that, they need to find out what the audience wants and cater to those tastes to sell papers or air time. Since much of the audience does not want serious news, the paper or media outlet can't remain profitable by delivering serious news. Only vetted pulp fiction will do.

Wisdom Seeker, the deficit that runs 8-10% of GDP is the baseline, or what would happen if the U.S. only managed to contain costs. "The blue line shows where the deficits would be if health care costs in the U.S. were to rise only due to the aging of the population and stay even with per capita GDP growth (based on CBO's "Low Health Care Cost" projection)" (http://www.cepr.net/calculator...lator.html) But the fix Dean is suggesting is 'free trade' in health care; being able to buy into another nation's more efficient system, or reforming our own along similar lines. If you uncheck the US box (77.4 years), and replace it with Australia, (80.8) years, the graph shows budget balance by about 2015. The deficit is 0% of GDP. Moving out further, the savings here results in 'negative deficits' or in other words, budget surpluses. If our costs and outcomes can be made to mimic those of Australia, we cross into surplus territory at about 2037, with deficits that run -2% of GDP. In other words, that is a budget surplus that is 2% of GDP at the time. This comes about as a result of reform that cuts cost (many doctors and big pharmaceuticals won't like this-they are one that would take major income hits) and improves outcomes at the same time. It is not a reform that is limited to population growth and stays even with GDP. Something extra is required, and that something extra is radical health care reform.

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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.