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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The NYT Gets It Wrong on the Deficit Commission, Again

The NYT Gets It Wrong on the Deficit Commission, Again

Tuesday, 19 July 2011 19:55

The prospect of cutting Social Security benefits for seniors and giving more money to the very wealthy seems to have excited reporters so much that they just can't get anything straight. The NYT again told readers that President Obama's fiscal commission produced a deficit reduction plan. This is not true. The deficit commission did not have the votes necessary to produce a plan. The plan referred to in this article was the plan of the co-directors, former Senator Alan Simpson and Morgan Stanley director Erskine Bowles.

The article also assists President Obama in misrepresenting public opinion about the cuts proposed by the Senate Gang of Six plan. It comments:

"Seeking to sum up the current state of affairs, Mr. Obama said, 'We have a Democratic president and administration that is prepared to sign a tough package that includes both spending cuts and modifications to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare that would strengthen those systems' and provide for new tax revenues. And, he added, 'we now have a bipartisan group of senators' and a majority of the American people who agree."

President Obama was not in any obvious way "seeking to sum up the current state of affairs." He was misrepresenting the state of affairs, presumably to advance his agenda. There are no public opinion polls that show the majority of the American people support the cuts to Social Security and Medicare in the Gang of Six plan. In fact, there are no polls that show even a majority of Republicans support such cuts. Presumably President Obama is aware of polling data on these issues. 

It also would have been helpful to remind readers that President Obama means "cuts" when he refers to "modifications" to Social Security. Some readers may not have read the Gang of Six plan closely enough to realize that it proposes to cut Social Security benefits by an average of close to 6 percent.

Comments (5)Add Comment
First They Came For ...
written by izzatzo, July 19, 2011 11:08
...a majority of the American people who agree."

First they came for the seniors but I was not one so I agreed.

Then they came for the sick but I was not one so I agreed.

Then they came for the unemployed but I was not one so I agreed.

Then they came for public and union employees but I was not one so I agreed.

Then they came for me but I was no longer in a majority so I agreed.

Stupid liberals.
written by Ian, July 19, 2011 11:46
Obama has to support something because if there is a default, that is the end of Wall St. Obama feels derivatives and credit default swaps are more important than jobs.
No jokes this time.
written by diesel, July 20, 2011 12:18
Me too Dean. Thanks for tirelessly pointing out the absurdity of the charades that pass for meaningful public policy these days.

Well, I've been putting off writing this for some time now. But here goes.

Others have compared your labors to Sisyphus--the poor SOB who had to roll his rock to the top of the hill, only to see it roll down, for all eternity. We all sympathize with him, feeling as though our own daily toil is somehow similar. We cannot imagine serving such a sentence without the saving grace of some dulling agent that ameliorates the awareness induced by this kind of drudgery such as would be provided by some illusion or drug.

In Camus' great book The Myth of Sisyphus he explores Sisyphus' mindset. He asks us to imagine that Sisyphus is not unmindful of the futility of his task. In fact, in order for his work to have meaning, he must be aware every moment of the utter impossibility of its successful resolution. Sisyphus is not deluded by the unrealistic notion that "This time will be different". He knows it won't. And therein lies his heroism. Because only in staying aware throughout his labor can he lay claim to what is distinctly human about his fate. He knows his job is futile, and holding fast to this knowing, he creates for himself a private space within which his mind is free.

Having accepted his fate, he chooses to engage it on his own terms and hollows out a space within which he can be a noble human being. He is neither a God, who enjoys the luxury of life everlasting, nor is he a beast without self awareness. His only distinctly human trait is his awareness, which he refuses to sacrifice or blunt.

Well, there it is Dean. I think your taking these dishonest bastards to task is heroic, albeit absurd (in Camus' sense).

In vino veritas.

Thanks Diesel
written by Dean, July 20, 2011 5:26
I will keep trying and I remain somewhat hopeful.
drunken stupor
written by frankenduf, July 20, 2011 10:13
yo deez- eez up on da bottle- history proves that progressive movements gain ground over time- as more and more people push behind the rock, eventually it gets over the hill (maybe into a new ravine- marx's view that history is cyclical)- existentialism doesn't comprehend social unity- getting existentialists to unite is like herding cats- try to tell the social critics in egypt about the absurdity of critiquing entrenched power and they'll figure it got lost in translation

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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.