But Wait, There's More! Time Magazine's Stimulus Pitchman

August 26th, 2010 3:52 PM

Billy Mays would be proud.


On August 26, Time magazine’s website’s lead with a story titled “How the Stimulus is Changing America,” a 27 paragraph infomercial arguing the stimulus’s goal is a “long-term push to change the country” and the “battle over the Recovery Act’s short-term rescue has obscured its more enduring mission.”


Reporter Michael Grunwald parroted every White House stimulus talking point, arguing the stimulus is everything from an “all-out effort to exploit the crisis to make green energy, green building and green transportation real” to calling it Obama’s “real down payment on change.” Grunwald’s major selling point is the green energy provisions within the bill.


“For starters, the Recovery Act is the most ambitious energy legislation in history, converting the Energy Department into the world’s largest venture-capital fund,” wrote Grunwald.


Grunwald couldn’t contain himself, hyping everything from electric cars to wind turbines to smart electric meters in homes. He compounded his liberal bias by claiming the Recovery Act could be a green New Deal:


“Critics have complained that while the New Deal left behind iconic monuments – courthouses, parks, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Grand Coulee Dam – this New New Deal will leave a mundane legacy of sewage plants, repaved roads, bus repairs and caulked windows, “ Grunwald wrote. “In fact, it will create new icons too: solar arrays, zero-energy border stations, an eco-friendly Coast Guard headquarters, an ‘advanced synchrotron light source’ in a New York lab.”


Grunwald gushed over a “brave new world of electric cars” and “the green industrial revolution” but never mentioned any drawbacks about green industry. Specifically, the simple fact that green cars are not popular in the marketplace and the costs of green technology are expensive, which businesses would pass on to the consumer.


While he mentioned the existence of critics of the stimulus, Grunwald apparently couldn’t find one for quotation. Official stimulus boosters like Vice President Joe Biden, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and soon-to-be-former Obama Council of Economic Advisers chair Christina Romer were freely quoted. Clearly, Grunwald just couldn’t find any negatives in the massive outlay of taxpayer money and the incursion of crushing debt.


“But it’s main legacy will be change,” Grunwald wrote. “The stimulus passed just a month after Obama’s inauguration, but it may be his signature effort to reshape America – as well as its government.”


Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute who’s written extensively on the stimulus package, told the Business & Media Institute the stimulus is based more on politics than economics.


“Proponents pretend to have a crystal ball when it comes to energy policy,” said DeHaven. “Over the past thirty years, they’ve [federal government] funded boondoggle after boondoggle and they don’t put their faith in individuals.”


DeHaven added the biggest argument with the stimulus shouldn’t be over job creation or long-term energy solutions but about the expansion of government.


“The primary issue is the role of government and the opportunity cost of money transferred from the private sector to the public sector,” DeHaven said.


Allowing a trusty pitchman-reporter to promote a green agenda fit with Time magazine’s left-wing environmentalist editorial position, having declared war on global warming and offered 51 ways to save the planet but eschewed energy market imperatives.