N.Y. Times Can't Seem To Find A 'Fiscal Liberal' Anywhere in Washington

New York Times reporter Robert Pear tapped out another article for Thursday’s editions highlighting "conservatives" versus opponents who are merely "Democrats." In fact, Pear used "fiscal conservative" today more times than the New York Times has used the term "fiscal liberal" in 25 years.

The headline read: "Fiscal Conservatives Heighten Fight Over Pet Projects." Pear began: "A battle for the soul of the Republican Party flared up in Congress this week as fiscal conservatives heightened their attack on pet projects stuffed into spending bills with the consent of House leaders."

Overall, as Pear trailed Rep. Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, as he attempted to keep a lid on spending, his story used "fiscal conservatives" four times, not counting the headline. Meanwhile, his opponents were only identified by party affiliation, among them, "Marcy Kaptur, Democrat of Ohio," sticking up for tomato money, and "Mike Thompson, Democrat of California," defending federal spending on the "health benefits of wine."

So is there no one in Washington that can be described by the New York Times as a "fiscal liberal"? For fun, I loaded that simple term into the Nexis news-data retrieval service. I found only three uses of "fiscal liberal" in the Times – and that’s going back to 1980. (The 1970s are also there, in abstract form).

Since they are so sparse, here are the three examples:

Michael Wines on May 21, 1993:

Senator David L. Boren of Oklahoma is a fiscal conservative among the Democrats, who have embraced the President's plan for a record tax increase and a raft of bold and costly new Federal programs. Senator John C. Danforth of Missouri is a fiscal liberal, as Republicans go, in a party that has forsworn any increase in taxes, however dire the nation's budgetary straits.

It was Wines again on December 26, 1994, late in a front-page story on moderate Republicans seeking an identity in the new Gingrich era:

"Moderates and conservatives may differ on social issues, but they are united on the driving issue in Republican philosophy: money. ‘Most of us who have always called ourselves moderates have hardly ever called ourselves fiscal liberals,’ said Senator Robert Packwood, the Oregon Republican who will head the Finance Committee. That was not always so. Moderate Republicans once were urban, Northeastern backers of Government programs, epitomized by people like John V. Lindsay, the former New York Congressman. Today moderates are somewhat more Midwestern and a lot more stingy..."

On October 20, 2004, Raymond Hernandez on a debate between Sen. Charles Schumer, Republican candidate Howard Mills, and Conservative Party nominee Dr. Marilyn O’Grady:

Dr. O'Grady, a Long Island ophthalmologist who is a political newcomer, hammered away at both men, portraying them as social and fiscal liberals.

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