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Chernynkaya On January - 6 - 2011

It seems that Congress has become obsessed with our budget deficit. We all can agree that in the long-term, US debt is indeed a very serious issue. What we can’t all agree on is what to do to reduce it, and more important, WHEN to take steps to reduce the deficit. All the economists I trust are insistent that reducing the deficit during a Recession will only prolong it and may turn it into a Depression. Robert Reich in particular has proven to me that there is no way to simultaneously reduce the deficit AND create jobs.  Two things reduce deficits– income (through taxes), and less spending (cut programs).
What creates income? Jobs and exports. What creates jobs and doesn’t increase the deficit? Nothing. Geithner and Bernanke BOTH said deficits are less urgent than job creation.

And the public seems to get that:

Job creation trumps deficit reduction in poll (Reuters)

61 percent say tax the rich to fix budget deficit

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/tax-rich-fix-budget-deficit/

So I am wondering how this obsession with immediate deficit reduction became so omnipresent. It is obviously a Right-wing talking point and issue, and I assumed that the corporate press had a hand in ginning up this issue.  Deficits are more important than jobs if you are a corporatio­n. Businesses like the recession—­They can hire fewer workers for less salary and work them longer, making bigger and bigger profits. Businesses don’t like deficits because their dollars are deflated = lower profits. So the corporate media keeps pressing deficit reduction. Or does it?

Just for the heck of it, I took a completely unscientific study today and looked at the major news outlets— ones most people see and read. I omitted radio, internet and blog news sites, and all cable news except for Fox. The following are stories that are about the deficit or related to it from the last few months only:

TELEVISION NEWS:

ABC News

Tea Party to Washington: ‘Pain Should Be Shared by Everyone’

World News 12/01: Deficit Commission’s Plan

World News: Overhauling the Tax System

CBS News

GOP Faces Budget Crisis

America’s Crumbling Roads and Bridges

NBC News

Pentagon anticipates $78B in budget cuts

[Their site is too hard to navigate to see all stories on Nightly News.]

Fox “News”

1554 videos alone!

Newspapers:


Arizona

President Obama likely to focus on deficit

Social Security, mortgage breaks ideas for slashing U.S. deficit

Barack Obama’s deficit panel not able to pass plan

Deficit plan eases stance on taxes, Social Security

New deficit plan still eyes Social Security trims

Tough fixes on the table for taming U.S. deficit

Obama freezing federal worker pay to cut deficit

Cutting U.S. deficit will hurt, panel warns

Q&A: What you should know about budget deficit

Gates plans to cut $78B from Pentagon budget

CBO: Health care repeal would increase deficit

Dems say GOP exempting $1 trillion from deficit

House cuts its own budget by 5 percent

House GOP to Obama: Join us in cutting spending

California

Pentagon plans to freeze ballooning budget, forcing military to shrink the Army, Marines

Challenging Obama, Speaker Boehner says spending cuts must accompany any debt limit increase

Cost of health care repeal put at $230 billion

Democrats accuse House Republicans of rules that exempt $1 trillion from deficit calculations

Treasury secretary warns Congress that failure to raise $14.3 trillion debt could affect jobs

PROMISES, PROMISES: A few Republican pledges meet reality at dawn of House control

Democrats accuse House Republicans of rules that exempt $1 trillion from deficit calculations

Colorado

Editorial: Pressure grows as boomers age

Dems say GOP exempting $1 trillion from deficit

CBO: Health care repeal would increase deficit

House cuts its own budget by 5 percent

Dems say GOP exempting $1 trillion from deficit

PROMISES, PROMISES: GOP drops some out of the gate

Congress unlikely to extend hand to ailing states

Florida

Dems say GOP exempting $1 trillion from deficit

Spending showdowns will test new Congress leaders

Supreme Court to cut costs to fight deficit

Defense Secretary Robert Gates to cut $78 billion from the Pentagon budget in next 5 years

Challenging Obama, Speaker Boehner says spending cuts must accompany any debt limit increase

Congress’ budget experts say health care repeal would add to deficit; GOP disagrees

Democrats accuse House Republicans of rules that exempt $1 trillion from deficit calculations

Treasury secretary warns Congress that failure to raise $14.3 trillion debt could affect jobs

PROMISES, PROMISES: A few Republican pledges meet reality at dawn of House control

GOP takeover in Congress means states will have to count on less federal help with deficits

Gates seeks to shift Pentagon spending and avoid cuts, as Tea Party activists arrive on Hill

Roads don’t pay for themselves, study says

Georgia

Bush’s deficits vs. Obama’s deficits, in one graph | Kyle Wingfield

House Republicans challenge Obama on debt limit

CBO: Health care repeal would increase deficit

Dems say GOP exempting $1 trillion from deficit

The profoundly unconservative, Big Government GOP

GOP House has already abandoned its new rules

PROMISES, PROMISES: GOP drops some out of the gate

Your Medicare taxes won’t cover what you’ll cost

The defining struggle of 2011 will be within the GOP

In fixing budget, be unfair to boomers

Illinois

Hands off our Social Security

New Congress must face deficit

White House Official: Obama to freeze pay for fed workers

Republicans about to show true colors

Next up: Overhaul of tax code

Spending cuts, tax reform necessary

Belt-tightening now, to spend more later

Indiana

Cutting deficit may spread pain around

Forget naysayers and attack deficit

Clinton wary of deficit

Time to commit to deficit reduction

Unemployment vs. deficit: mountains vs. molehills

Where were tea partiers during Bush deficit spending

No howling yet over Obama’s deficits

Bayh and McCain offer idea to attack deficit

Iowa

Repeal health reform law? Preposterous

Politicians have set wrong priorities

U.S. must control federal spending

Branstad budget briefing: We need ‘shared sacrifice

Guest column: Don’t be fooled into weakening Social Security

Money woes threaten food safety bill

Americans to blame for the deficit denial

Social Security made a promise to seniors

Blame Republicans for the national debt

Massachusetts

Dems say GOP exempting $1 trillion from deficit

Growing deficits have states looking to curb labor unions’ power

GOP takes control of the House, overhauls the rules

Michigan

Dems say GOP exempting $1 trillion from deficit

Fed’s tax deal based on myths by Republicans and Democrats

Deficit plan by White House would cut deep

Deficit commission can’t agree on how to solve problem

Congress can’t lecture on frugality

Government: Taxpayers make $12B on Citigroup bailout

Deficit panel lays out bold ideas

Minnesota

Congress’ budget experts say health care repeal would add to deficit; GOP disagrees

Democrats accuse House Republicans of rules that exempt $1 trillion from deficit calculations

GOP takeover in Congress means states will have to count on less federal help with deficits

Inside the budget deficit

Koch: A ‘laser focus’ on deficit

Obama to focus on nation’s debt, deficit in January State of the Union address

SPIN METER: Pain-free tax cut deal doesn’t foretell Obama, GOP cooperation on cutting deficit

This might hurt a bit

Paul Krugman: Let’s unfold Paul Ryan’s map, see where it really leads

Ohio

Obama urges bipartisan effort on soaring deficits

Proposal calls for cutting deficits by raising retirement age and …

Obama unveils $3.83 trillion budget with massive deficits …

Obama warns against G-20 pledge to cut deficits

Comments on Proposal calls for cutting deficits by raising …

President’s upcoming tax-cut decisions made more complicated by …November federal budget deficit highest on record

Pennsylvania

Dems say GOP exempting $1 trillion from deficit | AP | 01/06

Deficit cutters take aim at the tax break for health insurance

Back Channels: Paul Ryan’s map deserves a look

It’s Our Money – philly.com

Stu Bykofsky: Yo, lefty Dems: Tax deal helps everyone

Inquirer Editorial: Toward a more perfect union | Philadelphia

Chasing bogeymen | Say What? | 01/03/2011

Phony movement

House Republicans get right to work

Dan Simpson: No basket of cheer

David Brooks: The best essays of 2010

Texas

November federal budget deficit highest on record

Victor Davis Hanson: In defense of defense

White House panel’s budget plan voted down but may be fodder for …

THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY AND REFORM

John Cornyn: Wisdom of a balanced budget amendment

Austin Democrat says GOP leaders use ‘trickery’ to patch over …

Robert Kuttner: Losing sight of the big economic picture

Balance of Opinion: What now for GOP?

House GOP takeover will affect how issues vital to Texans are …

CONCLUSION:

It seems a chicken/egg situation: The news outlets report on Congress, and Congress (as well as the White House) talks a lot about the deficit. And Congress reacts to news stories, so I can’t tell how the deficits got more play than jobs creation. But it did.

All in all, I have to say I was surprised at the relatively balanced discussion of deficits in the newspapers. I noticed that the Midwestern papers appeared to have more concern about the federal deficit than the Coasts, but I didn’t really check all the Plains papers. I was going more for the papers in highly populated areas. That could make a significant difference.

One thing that I found worrisome was the reliance on AP in most of the major outlets; almost all used wire stories. I think that could be a problem.

What  I really learned from this experience: I watch too much cable!

Written by Chernynkaya

I am an artist and have lived in Los Angeles all of my life, except for a brief hippie period when I lived in SF. I am currently (semi-unwillingly) retired, but have had several careers.

6 Responses so far.

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  1. kesmarn says:

    Cher, I hope you realize what a valuable piece of research this is! This must have consumed a lot of time, but — wow — what a resource for the rest of us. Thank you!

    Amazing, isn’t it, how the deficit is now getting so much notice? How many of us, during the Dubya administration, raised the issue over and over again of the folly of fighting a(n) (unlawful) war, with the funding being declared “off the books? In the MSM, what did we see/hear? Nada.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Thanks, kes. Shucks-- t’weren’t nuthin! Actually, it was pretty easy. The Newseum has a site of ALL the US newspapers’ front pages. Then, I just went to the newspapers’ sites, entered the search term “deficits” and saw all their coverage. Took a few hours, but actually easy-peasy.

  2. escribacat says:

    Interesting story, Cher. It’s amazing that the deficit did dominate the discussion (over jobs). I do wonder about AP — especially now that so many news sites are just aggregators. Inspired me to look them up for the first time:

    Who owns The Associated Press?
    The Associated Press is a not-for-profit cooperative, which means it is owned by its 1,500 U.S. daily newspaper members. They elect a board of directors that directs the cooperative.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      E’cat, my biggest issue with AP is that its stories are not vetted but are widely distributed. I have seen quite a few that were slanted towards the Right, and some even slated Left. They shouldn’t be. They should be plain facts and without biased wording. I can’t find them now, but I have called AP out for their twisted language more than once. One example recently was their characterization of the tax extensions as “Obama’s tax cuts for the rich.”

  3. Khirad says:

    Many of the same AP stories.

    Washington:

    Budget deficit looms largest
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politics/2008597590_legislature07.html

    Dems say GOP exempting $1 trillion from deficit
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2013860775_apusnewcongressdeficits.html

    Evaluating pay and benefits for public employees: the big picture
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2013865906_cepeda07.html

    CBO: Health care repeal would increase deficit
    http://tdn.com/news/national/govt-and-politics/article_b696044d-def3-5fcf-b20b-a5f193f2c5fc.html

    House Republicans challenge Obama on debt limit
    http://tdn.com/news/national/article_ac65e148-ad63-54b4-b5b6-d74c81c61eda.html

    Pentagon anticipates $78B in budget cut
    http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/jan/06/pentagon-anticipates-78b-in-budget-cut/

    House cuts its own budget by 5 percent
    http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/jan/06/house-cuts-its-own-budget-by-5-percent/

    Pentagon announces plans to rein in spending
    http://tdn.com/news/national/article_19a25346-6e11-595d-9d76-d5226163f81d.html

    Fed boss likely to sound more hopeful on economy
    http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/01/06/1804126/fed-boss-likely-to-sound-more.html#ixzz1AKInaGk0

    GOP to Obama: Join us to cut federal spending, more
    http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/jan/05/gop-to-obama-join-us/

    Pentagon announces plans to rein in spending
    http://www.thenewstribune.com/apheadlines/nationandworld/index-p2.html

    House cuts its own budget by 5 percent
    http://www.thenewstribune.com/2011/01/06/1491301/house-cuts-its-own-budget-by-5.html#ixzz1AKLH3yiY

    Oregon:

    House Republicans challenge Obama on debt limit
    http://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf/story/house-republicans-challenge-obama-on-debt-limit/f47cd7e282c74c529f6192e9965545b1

    CBO: Health care repeal would increase deficit
    http://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf/story/cbo-health-care-repeal-would-increase-deficit/11d4205fb1614b71ac5231d4ceeed5f1

    Pentagon plans to rein in spending
    http://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf/story/pentagon-plans-to-rein-in-spending/12d6ddf40ddb485ab0bc059ed3133137

    And it just gets really redundant and would add little to do more wire stories, just that I found a couple headlines more interesting when they were tweaked.

    No need for me to continue. I’m not as good at this as you Cher. And not much luck on finding local columnists talking about national debt, when it generally centered more on city/state debt, naturally.

    But, seems as if a point is being pounded away.

    [img][/img]

  4. AdLib says:

    What a wonderful post and resource, Cher! Well done!

    Bito shared this link here previously, The NY Times’ interactive “You Fix the Budget” page which allows you to try your hand at solving the deficit.

    First, if you’re interested, go there and try it yourself:

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/11/13/weekinreview/deficits-graphic.html

    I did solve the deficit but had to make a couple of tough calls, my solution is primarily to cut defense and raise taxes on the wealthy, here was my solution: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/11/13/weekinreview/deficits-graphic.html?choices=23x005qv

    By doing this, it would seem that we could still protect the recovery while eliminating the deficit since having the wealthy pay more taxes has never negatively impacted the economy.

    Both could be done if not for the control that the MIC, banks and the wealthy have in Congress.


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