Economy

Why Does The Washington Post Think It's Bad News that the Absurd GOP Budget Strategy is Falling Apart?

Apparently the Post didn't get the memo that deficit reduction is completely discredited.

That is what readers a front page Washington Postnews story on the budget must be asking. The piece notes the sharp decline in the budget deficit, then tells readers:

"That might seem like good news, but it is unraveling Republican plans to force a budget deal before Congress takes its August break (emphasis added)."

It's not obvious why the piece would use "but" in this sentence as opposed to "and." Obviously the Post considers it bad news that the Republican strategy is unraveling. Most papers would leave such comments for the opinion pages.

The piece later adds that the lower deficits are reducing pressure on Democrats to consider:

"far-reaching changes to Medicare and the U.S. tax code that Republicans see as fundamental building blocks of a deal."

The use of "changes" is misleading. The Republicans have advocated cuts in Medicare compared with baseline levels of spending. It is understandable that the Republicans would prefer a euphemism, but the Post should be trying to inform its readers.

Also, the Post does not know what Republicans actually "see" as fundamental to a deal. It only knows what they say they view as being fundamental. Politicians sometimes don't say what they really believe.

It is also striking that this piece makes no reference to recent developments in economics that have seriously undermined the case for deficit reduction. Readers of this piece would believe that budget policy is unaffected by economic considerations. That may be true, but it would be worth highlighting this fact. Most readers probably would be interesting in knowing that members of Congress apparently only care about budget targets and do not give a damn about growth and jobs.

Dean Baker is a macroeconomist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University.

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