The Oil Spill's Worst-Case Scenario?
By Jeneen Interlandi
Newsweek: June 23, 2010
Efforts to stop the flow may have set the stage for an even bigger
catastrophe. Click on:
Inventing a Nation of Deficit Hawks
WaPo, NYT misreport polls on public and spending
"Gallup survey (6/17/10) for example, found that 60 percent of the public
approved of 'additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate
FAIR (For Accuracy In Reporting)
Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress like to argue that public
concern over federal budget deficits makes it impossible to pass a new round
of job-creating stimulus spending. And corporate media like to echo these
sentiments, despite there being little evidence that citizens are as
concerned about these issues as inside-the-Beltway deficit hawks.
In the June 21 New York Times, John Harwood wrote, "The same polls that show
voters upset about joblessness also show them upset about deficit spending,
which Democratic leaders consider their only short-term method of reducing
The Washington Post (6/19/10) put the same narrative on its front page under
the headline, "Election-Year Deficit Fears Stall Obama Stimulus Plan."
Reporter Lori Montgomery acknowledged that many economists see a greater
threat looming if the government doesn't provide additional stimulus. But,
she countered, "a competing threat--the exploding federal budget
deficit--seems to be resonating more powerfully in Congress and among
voters." The piece went on to note that the first stimulus package does not
appear to poll very well, and that voters "are sending mixed signals about
whether Washington should spend more on jobs or start minding the national
But most recent polls show far more public concern over unemployment than
deficit spending or the federal debt. As FAIR noted (FAIR Blog, 5/19/10),
recent surveys from CBS/New York Times and NBC/Wall Street Journal asked
voters to rank problems facing the country. Unemployment was more important
by a spread of 49 percent to 5 percent in the CBS/NYT poll, 35 percent to 20
percent in the NBC/WSJ survey, and 47 percent to 15 percent from a recent
Fox poll. Blogger Ben Somberg raised similar questions (6/19/10) in response
to the Post story.
And with all the media hysteria over federal spending and the deficit, the
public seems to have a somewhat muddled view of why it's even an issue. A
recent Pew/National Journal survey (6/17-20/10) that found 74 percent of
respondents believed that--contrary to what most economists would tell
you--"budget cuts to reduce the federal deficit" would help create jobs. The
same poll found similarly wide majorities seeing job creation from
additional spending on public works programs, more aid to state and local
governments, and cutting business and income taxes--all policies that would
increase the deficit. Surveys in which the public ranks these conflicting
priorities consistently give the deficit little emphasis.
So when the Post begins a May 19 story, "With voters up in arms over the
mounting federal debt," where is the evidence for that characterization? Or
for Times writer Matt Bai's suggestion (6/17/10) that "the federal deficit
has emerged as a chief concern for voters"? Or when the Times reported
(6/18/10) that the Senate's failure to pass a spending bill was evidence
that lawmakers "reacting to rising public concern, have grown reluctant to
vote for measures that add to federal red ink."
The evidence certainly isn't in the polls. One recent Gallup survey
(6/17/10), for example, found that 60 percent of the public approved of
"additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy."
One of the few polls to ask people to choose between jobs and the deficit
directly (CBS/NYT, 4/5-12/10) found 50 percent agreeing that "the federal
government should spend money to create jobs, even if it means increasing
the budget deficit," with 42 percent choosing deficit-reduction over
If such polls were taken seriously, news reports would state that
politicians were bucking public opinion in order to pursue fiscal austerity.
But outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post have turned
reality on its head.
ACTION: Please ask the New York Times and Washington Post to stop suggesting
that the public cares more about the federal budget deficit than job
New York Times Public Editor
Ombud, Washington Post
After McChrystal, Time to Change Course in Afghanistan
By Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor
TheNation: June 23, 2010
Editor's Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt of Katrina vanden Heuvel's
column at the WashingtonPost.com.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal has submitted his resignation. Or he's been fired.
In any case, it was time for him to go. His departure will help slow the
increasing erosion in civil-military relations-aided by both political
parties over the last 20 years-which has threatened civilian control of the
It also means we can now turn to a more fundamental exit debate: How do we
change course and craft a responsible strategy to end the war in
It is critical we have this debate. Here's one good reason: McChrystal's top
aide believes this war is unwinnable. In the most important quote in Rolling
Stone's fascinating article, Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville argues that the only
way we win in Afghanistan is to redefine failure as victory: "It's not going
to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win. This is going to
end in an argument."
So, instead of redefining failure as victory, shouldn't we be debating how
to fundamentally change course?
Read the rest of Katrina's column at www.WashingtonPost.com.