Here’s the Thing

What is it about the fiscal cliff that makes economists think it will be disastrous and send us into recession (whether it is most economists or select ones. You are right that it will send us into recession; the disagreement is whether that will happen immediately, or only months or a year or whatever into it if we do nothing.)

So the question is why they think that would happen. I believe it is because they believe the economy cannot handle that much money being taken out of the hands of people who spend money in the economy. The tax hikes on the middle class and the cuts in services are what would send us into recession.

(It is not the tax cuts at the top, as many studies have shown they already have piles of money they aren’t spending; they just hang on to it, so tax cuts for those at the top is really just taking that money out of the economy. If you disagree with that, you have to answer the question I always ask; if tax cuts on the wealthy create jobs, given they’ve been historically low for a decade, why aren’t we living in a golden age of full employment?)

I watch NBC news every night to see how they’re spinning things and this has never been explained. In fact, they never talk about why the cliff would be bad, just that it would be horrible. You watch and listen to the public media a lot more than I do. Have they talked about this on PBS or NPR?

Because it seems to me that if this is at all an accurate explanation of why the cliff would be bad, it would be a good thing for people to understand. (And if there is a different reason, whatever it is, that should be part of the news. Because note that while “most economists” say we have to get spending under control and reduce the debt, this is exactly what going off the cliff does, so why are they seeing it as disastrous? I say, because they recognize it is doing it too fast while the economy is still bad.) Because it seems to me that the main sticking point in doing something about it is that Boehner insists there be even deeper cuts. So if the analysis is accurate, Boehner wants to make the cliff worse, right? Or am I missing something in the mainstream narrative? And if that is true, why doesn’t the network news say that? They just keep saying the sides are far apart, and act like if they could just get together to do something, anything, then that would solve the issue. But it wouldn’t. There are things we could do that would make the cliff less severe, and things we could do to make it more severe. I say that Obama’s plan makes it less severe, and Boehner wants to make it more severe.

That is what drives me crazy about the network news (and perhaps that is where we get into disagreements that aren’t really disagreements; you watch PBS and listen to NPR. I mainly watch and listen and read other sources and watch the network news because I want to see what they are telling people. When you talk about the mainstream you mean public media, when I do I mean network and cable news. And they are telling quite different stories.)

It drives me crazy that they report nightly on “the fiscal cliff” and spend five minutes a night on he said, he said, showing sound bites, and never talk about why it is a cliff, what would actually cause the bad things about it, and how the proposals from Obama and Boehner would affect it. It drives me nuts, and it’s no wonder people are confused about it. And I think what I call the mainstream, the network and cable news on both sides, is doing a horribly damaging disservice to the American people.

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About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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2 Responses to Here’s the Thing

  1. Jim says:

    Yes, JP. Public radio and TV have both reported what you are after. Sad to hear that NBC, CBS and ABC have reported mac-news only. And of course, Fox, conservative talk radio, etcetera have been even more slanted and off base. CNN simply goes for the controversy, I guess. One hopes the average news consumer is better informed than what is easily offered.

    • JP says:

      I think in many ways the people are smarter, and the polls and election results show that. Glad to hear NPR and PBS are doing good work. Back in the day when I drove to work I always listened to NPR. Usually never got home in time to see the PBS news so never got in that habit. And now with podcasts, I can listen to stuff whenever I want and am already overwhelmed!

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