There's panic at the Washington Post today as its editorial crew issues the latest dire warnings over debt.
Are they talking about the mounting household debt that's rising across America as the unemployed and discouraged job-seekers among us struggle to figure out how to stay in shelter and have enough food to eat? Of course not! Rather it's the nattering of the Post's Sudden Deficit Hawks, screeching about how "It's time to stop worrying about the deficit -- and start panicking about the debt." They've arrived in their panicked state far too late and pimp a solution that won't work.
Pacing this pure panic-mongery are some fun interpretations of the world and current events, which The American Prospect's Dean Baker calls "dissembling," which is a fancy word for "lying."
For example, your Post editors say:
Consider: In the space of a single fiscal year, 2009, the debt soared from 41 percent of the gross domestic product to 53 percent.
Well, hey, "consider" what events transpired during that past year! Take it away, Mr. Baker:
Yes, the debt rose from 41 percent of GDP to 53 percent, but the reason was not profligate spending by Congress or even irresponsible tax cuts. The reason for the surge in the debt was the economic crisis brought about by the collapse of the housing bubble.
The Post could not be bothered to write about the housing bubble as the danger was mounting, only giving attention to the likes of Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, who told us everything was fine, or even better, presenting readers with the assessment of David Lereah, the chief economist of the National Realtors Association and the author of the 2006 bestseller, Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust and How You Can Profit From It.
Naturally, the only thing that will save us is a bipartisan effort to gut Social Security and Medicare, and the Post's editors tout the "new version" of the "fiscal task force" floated by Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) to do it. Support for such a task force comes from a group of senators, any of whom could propose their own deficit reduction measures right now, if it weren't for the fact that signing their name to such a choice might put their seat in jeopardy. The main goal of this task force is to shield such lawmakers from responsibility.
I'll remind you that the version of the "task force" that the Post's editors now support to the point of fear-mongering, would require a task force super-majority to make any recommendation, and that such recommendations would subsequently require another super-majority to pass into law. This basically means that this task force won't accomplish anything, except provide the spectacle of lawmakers pretending to get tough on deficits. It's possible that the editors of the Washington Post haven't a clue as to how Congress has become gridlocked lately, but I think this is an example of how they're not able to distinguish activity from achievement.
Naturally, if they manage to get what they want, you won't catch these editors taking any responsibility for promoting this doomed enterprise and selling it as a means to assuage "panic."
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