David Firestone, a former national and Washington correspondent for the New York Times who is now on the paper’s editorial board, was featured on Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal’s blog Thursday, commenting on the GOP debate in Michigan Wednesday night, specifically Rick Perry’s flub when he was unable to name the three federal agencies he wanted to eliminate. However, Firestone informed us, “the real mental lapse” involve Republicans trying to cut government programs in the first place. Meanwhile, Obama's stimulus "unquestionably saved millions of jobs."
It’s easy to ridicule the governor for his brain freeze, but the real mental lapse was trying to persuade voters that these government departments are the malign forces keeping the economy from recovering. Voters may not always grasp complex economic forces, but they know that the impediment to growth is not Education’s “Race to the Top” or Energy’s efforts to encourage solar power and scientific innovation.
And yet candidate after candidate continued to insist that when the government does its job – either by regulating private-sector excess or intervening to save the auto industry – it is “killing America,” in Mr. Perry’s phrase.
These candidates are peddling the worst kind of easy fairy tales to those voters who value simplistic prescriptions over hard choices. President Obama may have oversold the effects of his 2009 stimulus program, but it unquestionably saved millions of jobs. Mowing down regulations and government programs at the rate favored by Republican candidates might lower the deficit, but at an enormous cost to public safety, educational quality and innovation that would damage the economy for generations.
Firestone piled up plenty of liberal slant during his years as a Times reporter. The Media Research Center’s Brent Baker revealed in the summer of 2003 how Firestone served as a conduit for liberal groups in a series of stories on child tax credits for the poor. Baker summed up: “All the left-wing rhetoric of anti-tax cut groups is all that's fit to print.” In December 2010, Firestone wrote an editorial condemning Sarah Palin’s reality TV show “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” as “some extremist politics mixed in with the supposed nostalgia.”