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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Yet Another Front Page Post Editorial on the Budget

Yet Another Front Page Post Editorial on the Budget

Thursday, 11 April 2013 07:14

The Washington Post showed yet again why it is known as "Fox on 15th Street," running a lead front page story headlined, "Obama eyes end to debt deadlock." (The on-line version is slightly different.) The piece begins by telling readers in the first sentence:

"In the first budget of his second term, President Obama set aside the grand ambitions that marked his early days in office and sent Congress a blueprint aimed at achieving a simple goal: ending the long partisan standoff over the national debt."

The "long partisan standoff over the national debt" is of course the Post's invention. There are major debates over budget issues, with Republicans demanding cuts in many programs that Democrats support. (Interestingly, Social Security and Medicare are not on that list except in Washington. Both programs enjoy overwhelming support across the political spectrum elsewhere in the country.) There are also major issues on economic policy, with Democrats generally more willing to use stimulus to try to support the economy and get out of the downturn more quickly.

However there is no long partisan standoff on the national debt. Most people have little comprehension of the debt and do not view it as a major concern. Neither do financial markets, which is why the interest on 10-year Treasury bonds remains near a 60 year low. The interest burden the government faces is also near a post-World War II low. (It is at a post World-War II low if we subtract off the interest payments from the Fed to the Treasury.)

In short, the Post's headline and the structure of the article should be understood as part of its effort to hype the debt as the country's major problem. It is in fact not recognized as such by people across the country, nor is there any evidence suggested that it should be.

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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.