Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wouldn't it be great if politics was more about truth and less about spin? Not going to happen, I know.

A few days ago, I drew on a post by Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly to make a point about how disinterested many in the media can be about challenging demonstrably incorrect "facts" when offered up by a politician. As I wrote, it's almost as if the interviewers simply consider any statement of fact, no matter how erroneous, to be a matter of opinion with one opinion as good as any other. Apparently anyone really is entitled to their own facts.

Worse yet, it seems that real and important facts, not the "Michele Bachmann on Fox News type facts," but facts supported by research and good faith attempts to get at the truth, are too often ignored.

More recently, Benen wrote that Douglas Elmendorf, director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), explored in detail the effects of a deficit reduction package. Elmendorf made the case that while, in the medium and long term, small deficits could improve economic output, in the short term a different strategy would be prudent.

From the report:

In the short term, while the economy is relatively weak and economic growth is restrained primarily by a shortfall in demand for goods and services, the policy (i.e., small deficits) would decrease the demand for goods and services even further and thus reduce economic output and income.

As Benen wrote, the CBO director's comments were made in the same afternoon that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reminded Congress that in the midst of our fragile recovery "sharp and excessive cuts in the very short term would be potentially damaging to the recovery."

I understand that economics has for long been called the dismal science for a reason and that it can be hard to grasp the arguments being made, but what is clear is that Republicans are demanding steep cuts that would take effect immediately while the Federal Reserve and the CBO are arguing that the GOP plan would throw sand into the gears of an economy already struggling.

Benen's point is that it is incomprehensible that such an important perspectives, from two very significant sources, is virtually ignored by the media.

Maybe it's true that neither of these guys would make scintillating television, but perhaps we should be given the option of paying attention to what they have to say, just in case it is essential information that could help us save the economy.

Just a thought.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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