Monday, July 19, 2010


Newspapers on deficit: beware the con

by Larry Geller

The mainstream press is firmly behind the right-wing agenda to cut social benefits. Hawaii’s Star-Advertiser is no exception. The setup is deficit reduction. Without putting the finger on military or intelligence spending or on unwise tax cuts. Instead, they would like you to go along with the lies about Social Security, for example, hoping to slash what little safety net the average American has left. While the CEOs get richer, of course.

A newspaper selects the articles it prints. By giving this (and similar) so much space in its editorial section, the paper reveals its bias. More than bias, newspapers across the country are trying to influence the public just as they did during the leadup to the Iraq invasion. Little has changed, it seems. Far from neutral reporters, our press drifts freely into political advocacy. Yeah, I know, it has no doubt always been that way.

As astute readers, you probably know that there’s nothing wrong with Social Security, and in fact, those who receive it have already paid for it. You probably also know that Obama appears to support cutting the social safety net. For some reason, it’s almost as though this guy doesn’t really want to get re-elected.

Star-Advertiser 20100719 Today’s paper carries a guest column not posted on the Star-Advertiser website that I could find, but a similar article is here. “Do deficits really matter? is the headline, but the subhead is much more revealing: “The public thinks yes, but doesn’t want to make the sacrifices to reduce them.” Um, wait a moment, if that sounds like a setup, it’s because it is. We’ve sacrificed quite a bit, dear editors, and we’re still hurting, while Goldman Sachs prospers and the wars continue.

The column is by Gary Andres, identified as vice chairman of research for Dutko Worldwide. Checking further, that firm identifies itself as “the largest independent public policy management firm in the U.S.” Dutko was acquired by the UK firm The Huntsworth Group because of its strength in “the US lobbying and government relations market.” So be warned, you are being managed.

Here’s the con:

Moreover, both sides know that the medicine required to reduce the debt also includes some serious side effects. Cutting spending on the big cost drivers -- Medicare, Social Security, and Veterans' benefits -- is tough political sledding. Too strong a dose of austerity might kill the doctor administering the treatment.  [OregonLive, The politics of the deficit debate, 7/19/2010]

We’re already headed for “austerity” in that with the economy further declining it will be more difficult for families to pay for basic necessities. Congress has so far refused to extend unemployment benefits while job loss and foreclosures continue unabated. Andres, Dutko and the Star-Advertiser would have you believe the cure is further cuts. That’s right, it’s hard to survive now, the cure is to make it harder.

What is never mentioned in these attacks is the huge cost of the military adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, or the cost of the government’s swift and massive bailout of Wall Street firms—firms that are now posting record profits. Nor do they mention the contribution of the continuing Bush-era tax breaks benefiting only the rich and corporations.

Today’s Washington Post installment on the size of the privatized military intelligence complex adds new fuel to the deficit debate—with just the first of three installments printed, it’s clear that neither the public nor our government know how much we are spending in this area. Judging by the massive construction the article reveals, it has to be significant.

And of course, the majority of Americans want us to get out of Afghanistan, but like the BP oil leak, the government just keeps gushing taxpayer money for wars that hurt us in so many ways (and now they want to cut veterans benefits?? This does not compute).

AMY GOODMAN: The growth of the military budget, Bill Arkin, since 9/11?

WILLIAM ARKIN: Well, you know, it’s hard to say even what we spend on national security anymore, Amy. I guess we say we spend a half-a-trillion dollars now on national security. But with supplemental budgets and secret budgets and all that, I mean, it’s really impossible to be able to put a true figure on it. And more importantly, it’s really impossible to gauge where this money is actually going and how effective it is. We’ve talked to people on the Hill who have said to us that the budget documents get thinner and thinner as the budget gets bigger and bigger.  [Democracy Now, "Top Secret America" Washington Post Investigation Reveals Massive, Unmanageable, Outsourced US Intelligence System, 7/19/2010]

Once again, we need to think critically about what we read in the commercial press. Having thought, next we need to work to bring about positive change and eliminate tea party economics.



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