It's NOT A Spending Cut, You Inept WashPost Headline Writer!

The Washington Post headline today on Page A-4 is "Critical Votes Loom For Hill Republicans: Party to Set Cuts to Entitlement Spending." CUTS? Of course not. See the body of the article by Jonathan Weisman, where the reporter more accurately suggests the trimming of spending growth: "The Senate Finance Committee is trying to find as much as $10 billion in savings from Medicaid, trimming anticipated growth by as much as 13 percent at a time when states such as Tennessee and Missouri are throwing tens of thousands of people off their Medicaid rosters." For a longer (and much older) look at the media's daily budgetary inaccuracies, see one of my old studies here.

Back then, reporters were interested in dragging the image of the new Republican congressional majority aggressively toward the seniors-buy-Alpo-to-afford-your-meds extreme: 

No subject inspires more daily journalistic fabrication than the federal budget. For the last 15 years, as federal spending mushroomed, journalists told a story echoing liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith, of a squalid public sector starved of its necessary funds. No program benefited more from the statist illusions of baseline budgeting than Medicare, which reportedly suffered "deep cuts" as it expanded -- 72 percent in the Bush years, for example.

In the last 18 months, reporters have made Medicare "cuts" an essential part of its method of underlining the "extremism" of the Republican Congress. The GOP's balanced-budget plan called for a $270 billion reduction in projected Medicare increases over seven years (with spending per recipient scheduled to increase from $4,800 to $7,100), but "cuts" remained the most popular paradigm of reporting.

Washington Post
Tim Graham's picture

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