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01.17 As Planet Heats Further, Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is 'Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe' [Intelligent government is desperately needed]
01.17 Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization? [Intelligent government is desperately needed]
01.16 Immediate fossil fuel phaseout could arrest climate change – study [Intelligent government is desperately needed]
01.15 Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies [Wonderful!]
01.14 V.A. Seeks to Redirect Billions of Dollars Into Private Care [The most public and efficient healthcare in America has been demonized and will be destroyed rather than improved, raising total per-capita costs]
01.14 Why thousands of Los Angeles teachers are going on strike [Well at least we got a big tax-cut for the super-rich, that was the most important thing.]
01.08 Monarch butterfly numbers plummet 86 percent in California [0:58 video; Do You Care?]
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01.19 Republicans’ lack of alarm over the shutdown reveals a disturbing truth [Sociopaths have little or no conscience, empathy or morality...]
01.19 Arizona: Four women convicted after leaving food and water in desert for migrants [morality is against the law]
01.18 With Mattis Gone, Trump Is Already Sowing More Global Chaos [Trump plays General—what could go wrong...]
01.18 Impeach Donald Trump
01.18 President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project [An impeachable offense]
01.18 10 Things We All Lose If Bernie Chooses Not to Run in 2020 [Intelligent government is desperately needed]
01.17 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lambasts US government shutdown in first House speech [3:27 video; Intelligent government is desperately needed]
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01.17 Trump's economy is great for billionaires, not for working people [chock-full of pesky facts that government and media ignore and distort]
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01.17 White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It's not [More equality requires us to fix ignored and distorted problems]
01.16 Global tensions holding back climate change fight, says WEF [Consistently stupid and harmful policies... Seeing a pattern?]
Deficit Fascinates Media—Its Causes, Not So Much
Bush tax cuts seldom mentioned as source of red ink
References to curtail deficits rarely mention the Bush tax cuts or wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but often repeat—in the reporters own voice—the need to curtail the White House’s “lavish aspirations” to reduce unfunded liability of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
The role of George W. Bush’s tax cuts in the current federal deficit is tremendous. Their role in corporate media’s current round of deficit obsession, however, is tenuous at best. Sometimes acknowledged in editorials or op-eds, the cuts generally only make it into news reports as assertions from the White House or Democrats, rather than established and relevant economic fact.
Elite papers lately issue near daily alarms on the deficit—“gargantuan,” “unprecedented,” “unimaginable a few years ago.” Virtually all accounts speak portentously of the costs of benefit programs like Social Security, often described as “the main causes for expanding federal spending and deficits” (Washington Post, 3/1/10) or “the major factor behind projections of unsustainably high deficits” (New York Times, 1/26/10)—and sometimes, dismayingly, as “goodies” (New York Times, 2/7/10).
But even the most discerning reader might not suspect that, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains (2/17/10), “just two policies dating from the Bush administration—tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...will account for almost $7 trillion in deficits in 2009 through 2019,” impacts that “easily dwarf the stimulus and financial rescues.”
A December 14, 2009 piece in the Washington Post identified the current brouhaha as a strategy of “Republicans seeking to make growing federal deficits a focal point of the 2010 elections.” That awareness is missing from most Post reporting on the subject, which still has room for such things as Alan Simpson’s lament (2/17/10): “How did we get to a point in America where you get to a certain age in life, regardless of net worth or income, and you’re ‘entitled’? The word itself is killing us.”
When mention of Bush-era contributions to the present deficit occurs, it’s most often in comments from presumably interested parties like Obama (Washington Post, 2/2/10) or White House budget director Peter Orszag (Washington Post, 2/1/10). Meanwhile, references to the need to curtail the White House’s “lavish aspirations” (Washington Post, 1/26/10) or “the massive federal entitlement programs—including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—that threaten to drive the nation’s debt to levels not seen since World War II” (Washington Post, 1/20/10) are in the reporter’s own voice.
The New York Times is aware that a debate on the deficit that omits mention of Bush’s cuts is disingenuous, as editorials like “The Truth About the Deficit” (2/7/10) attest. This knowledge remains hermetically sealed in the paper’s editorial department, however, and MIA where it might be useful—for instance, following a statement about how “a deficit at $1.6 trillion” is a strong reason why “leading Republicans ...argued that Mr. Obama could hardly claim credit for improvements in the economy” (New York Times, 2/18/10).
A January 27 Times piece ended with the phrase, “considering much of the nation’s debt is the result of spending and tax cuts during the years up to 2007 when Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress.” To date, no articles have begun that way.
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This story was published on April 6, 2010.