May 21, 2021
Washington Post budget reporters have a game where they try to write things in a way that none of their readers have any clue what they are talking about. According to rumors, they give a prize each year to the reporter who does the best job in providing zero information to readers.
Today’s piece on the proposals on infrastructure being exchanged by President Biden and a group of Republicans in the Senate is a leading contender. It told us that President Biden lowered his request from $2.3 trillion to $1.7 trillion. By contrast, the Senate Republicans are proposing $800 billion.
The piece never bothered to tell readers the number of years over which this money would be spent. Eight is the magic number — but hey, everyone knows that, right?
A bit of additional context would also have been helpful. For example, Biden’s latest proposal is a bit less than 0.8 percent of GDP. It is just over a quarter of what the Pentagon is projected to spend over this period. On a per person basis, it comes to around $640 a year.
This is the sort of context that would appear in the article if the point was to inform readers. Apparently that is not the case.