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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Washington Post Editorializes for Its "Big Deal" in News Pages, Again

Washington Post Editorializes for Its "Big Deal" in News Pages, Again

Wednesday, 06 March 2013 07:53

As its readers know, the Washington Post really really wants to see big cuts in Medicare and Social Security and is happy to use its news pages to advance this agenda. In a budget piece today, it told readers:

"In a flurry of meetings and phone calls over the past few days, Obama has courted more than half a dozen Republicans in the Senate, telling them that he is ready to overhaul expensive health and retirement programs if they agree to raise taxes to tame the national debt" [emphasis added].

If the Post was not trying to push its Big Deal agenda, it would have told readers that Obama is willing to cut health care retirement programs. The issue here is reducing government payments, not changing the color of the forms used. It also would not use the adjective "expensive." While the country does pay a lot of money for Medicare and Medicaid, because it pays doctors and other providers much more than they get elsewhere, Social Security is actually relatively cheap compared to other countries' public pension programs.

Also, an objective newspaper would not have inserted the word "tame" since the data do not support the case that the debt is somehow out of control. The ratio of debt to GDP has been rising only because the collapse of the housing bubble led to a severe downturn. Had it not been for this downturn, the ratio would have fallen through most of the decade. The ratio of interest to GDP is near a post-war low.

The piece also asserts that:

"there was more skepticism of Obama’s motives"

among many Republicans. Of course the Post does not know whether Republicans really were skeptical of President Obama's motives, they just know that Republicans claimed to be skeptical. It is not good reporting to accept assertions from politicians at face value, since they are not always truthful. 

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by Fred Upp, March 06, 2013 10:47
I'm thankful there are good, qualified people willing to descend and clean my local sewer, and I'm thankful there are good, qualified people willing to read and comment on the Washington Post.
Obama's doing deficit reduction wrong !
written by H-Bob, March 06, 2013 1:45
There was a short article/reporter opinion piece last weekend (it had a NY Times byline) about how the deficit reduction from the $1.6 trillion left by Bush to the estimated $850 billion for 2013 raised concerns because such deficit reduction occurred without really touching entitlements -- i.e., it's not true deficit reduction unless someone has to eat cat food!

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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.