Occasionally Facts Elude the Journal's Spam Filter

February 20th, 2012 · No Comments · budget policy, tax policy, Uncategorized

By Arthur Alpert

Can life get any better?

My Giants win the Super Bowl. Jeremy Lin makes the Knicks watchable again. And Wednesday, Feb. 16, the Albuquerque Journal demonstrates how far it is willing go – the price it will pay – to promote its editorial convictions on the front page.

In order to carry a page one story denigrating President Obama’s budget, the Journal published an account that (in the page two jump) contains facts the newspaper routinely suppresses.

I’ll identify the price in a moment, but first let’s look at the Associated Press account by Calvin Woodward. Labeled a “Fact Check/Analysis”, it was headlined, “Phantom Savings in Obama Budget”.

Woodward makes a persuasive argument that the President’s budget does, in fact, include “phantom savings” and contains debatable assumptions.

Of course, being based at AP Washington (where reporters regularly editorialize), he must rip the President. Mr. Obama, he says, is unrealistic in budgeting for tax increases because they “are a nonstarter before the election….”

Huh? You don’t need to have taken Poli Sci 101 to know that a budget is a political document. To know, too, that Presidents give us their druthers because the alternative – a budget reflecting the opposition’s preferences – would be preemptive surrender.

To his credit, however, Woodward includes background information in a paragraph (badly written, yes, but let it be) that somehow eluded the Journal’s editorial spam filters. Here are the shocking words:

“President George W. Bush kept the cost of the wars out of his budgets, a contentious accounting maneuver that may have papered over the effort on spending projections but deepened the national debt as surely as if the price had been shown transparently. Taken together, the Bush and Obama budget tricks seem to suggest war costs nothing but ending it frees a ton of money.”

Wow!

If the Journal will publish that – admittedly a few years late – can we look forward to a diet of fact-based journalism?

Will the editors publish analyses (plural) explaining how we got here, how we moved from surplus to today’s significant deficit?

Will the editors tell us precisely how much we owe because the nation decided to wage two wars and pay for neither?

And what debt we incurred by borrowing, again, for the Medicare Part D entitlement?

And how the (bipartisan) decision to reduce Washington’s income big time via massive tax cuts – simultaneous with the above big spending – affected that debt.

And how national economic policies (including the above) resulted in the Lesser Depression of 2008? And how that influenced President Obama’s spending?

Imagine articles on those topics by one or more independent experts; no more, please, from the billionaire-front “think tanks.”

Mind you, it may be coincidental that the newspaper neglects questions that contradict the Journal’s editorial agenda.

Could be happenstance, too, that the Journal has never asked conservative former Senator Pete Domenici, who voted for all the 2001-2008 borrowing:

“Senator, given your dedication to balanced budgets, what were you thinking? ”

He must have a rationale.

Anyway, for whatever reason, the Journal now has paid the price. It has published a brief reference to the source of the deficit, letting the cat’s nose out of the bag. So we’re bound to see the rest of the tabby any day now.

Aren’t we?

PS Thursday, Feb. 16, on B1, Winthrop Quigley conveyed the views of a Bank of the West capital markets guru who warned against austerity measures, saying, “If you want economic growth, somebody has to spend.”

Hmmm. Is there a Journal Spring in the making?

If so, life can get better.

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