Big media’s biggest failure?

posted at 10:25 pm on September 22, 2010 by Karl

Credit Michael Kinsley for a little honesty:

I’m sitting here in a pile of reports and studies by think tanks, public-policy schools, the Office of Management and Budget, and self-appointed grandee fiscal crusaders. They all make the same, tiresomely familiar point: that this can’t go on. ***

There are a dozen ways to look at the national debt and the annual government deficit, and they all lead to varying degrees of panic. What’s especially scary about our fiscal situation is that everybody knows the facts and concedes the implication, but nobody is doing anything about it ***

And the national debt is just a fraction of the problem. State and local governments, unlike the national government in Washington, cannot print money, and many states have constitutions that forbid them to run a deficit. Nevertheless, they will be losing, together, about $140 billion this year. ***

Debt is everywhere you look. Here’s a short inside piece in The New York Times Magazine about state and local unfunded pension obligations for retired employees. They add up to between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. Until that article, I had given no thought whatsoever to shortfalls in state employee pension funds. You?

Well, yeah. And Matt Welch points out that Reason magazine has been all over the problem. And if you’re reading a conservative blog like this, you probably knew about it from Reason, or the Weekly Standard, or the American Spectator, Fox News, City Journal, the CATO Institute, National Review, the Heritage Foundation, Rush Limbaugh or any of the other right-leaning media that have been discussing it for years, but prominently for about a year.

In fairness, after the Pew Center on the States reported on the trillion-dollar gap in state employees’ retirement benefits, establishment media including Reuters, NPR and even the NYT did stories on it. But it is fair to say that if someone as entrenched in the center-left establishment punditocracy as Michael Kinsley had not heard about the issue until recently — despite ongoing budget crises in states like California, New Jersey, Illinois and New York — it has not gotten the sort of media coverage that might be expected of a $1-3 trillion dollar problem.

I doubt that anyone is very surprised at this, because — as Kinsley notes — we are accustomed to hearing about our public debt and having the political establishment not merely ignore the problem, but accelerate it. If the commonly reported national debt of $14 trillion — and $106 trillion in liabilities for Social Security and Medicare — are not treated as one of our biggest political issue for decades to come, what’s a few trillion more for state employees? However, in a climate where even Pres. Obama’s budget director warned that our debt is “serious and ultimately unsustainable,” perhaps more should be expected of the establishment media.

Indeed, our unsustainable financial situation led to the creation of a Tea Party movement — one of the biggest political developments in America over the past two years. It would seem to be the perfect news peg for ongoing media coverage of our government’s fiscal irresponsibility. Of course, it didn’t work out quite that way, did it? Instead, the establishment media ignored, then attacked the Tea Party movement — first as astroturf, then as racist, as Birthers, as hypocritical (for not having formed when the problem was less dire, and for gullibly expecting the government to make good on current entitlement promises or reform them before adding new ones), etc. The establishment media’s coverage of the Tea Party often seems devoted to discussing anything other than the issues at the heart of the movement.

Thus, the establishment media reveals itself, not as the people’s watchdog against irresponsible government, but as the irresponsible government’s guard dog against the people. It is ground zero for manufacturing center-left consent. After all, how could the establishment have seriously discussed passing the trillion-dollar ObamaCare behemoth, when so much of the funding comes from “reductions” in Medicare and Medicaid spending that is unsustainable in the first instance? How could the media have gone along with the laughable CBO estimate that ObamaCare will reduce the deficit (based on assumptions the CBO admits are unrealistic), if they had to take our ginormous public debt seriously? How could they float an economy-crushing cap-and-tax scheme to combat global warming, or climate change, or climate disruption, or whatever it’s being called today, if everyone was forced to acknowledge how far government has already promised beyond its means?

More to the point, when the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform reports its recommendations (after the election, in a display of the very cynicism Kinsley bemoans), there will be a push for another Beltway deal. The GOP will be expected to accept tax increases (which won’t fix the problem) in return for the Democrats agreeing to future spending cuts that never happen, if past is prologue. If the establishment media had to honestly address the nature and scale of the public debt, it could not take business as usual seriously. But the establishment media is in the business of business as usual, even when the business as usual business is bad. Thus, they stick their heads in the sand, impugn the motives of everyone who does not… and attack the right-leaning media as focusing on unimportant, fringe issues.

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Kinsey ranks right up there. How ’bout Alan Colmes?

Gohawgs on September 22, 2010 at 10:27 PM

They all make the same, tiresomely familiar point: that this can’t go on.

Krugs used to say the same thing when Bush was President.

CWforFreedom on September 22, 2010 at 10:27 PM

Kinsley, for an ‘educated elite’, you’re late to the party.

GarandFan on September 22, 2010 at 10:30 PM

The media jackalopes are as simplistic as the demorat trash they support, every one of them believes that when the fiscal problem needs to be seriously addressed we can just raise taxes and everything will be fine.

Thing is, I have no clue what to do. Hide my money in the bunker and it becomes Ginger Dollars, invest it and watch it disappear overnight, keep it in standard bank accounts and my money dies if the bank dies. No one knows what to do except spend it.

Bishop on September 22, 2010 at 10:30 PM

We’ve fired a lot of our public servants this time. I hope the rest has gotten the message.

BruceB on September 22, 2010 at 10:31 PM

Ok, how about professional counseling services?

Or perhaps Dave Ramsey, he’s pretty good.

Skandia Recluse on September 22, 2010 at 10:32 PM

Reason #732 why I don’t want the administration of my life trusted to some bozo with a master’s degree. Trust government? Never.

beatcanvas on September 22, 2010 at 10:34 PM

Thus, the establishment media reveals itself, not as the people’s watchdog against irresponsible government, but as the irresponsible government’s guard dog against the people.

That is a brilliant summation if ever I saw one. I know we all talk about the liberal media, blah, blah, blah, but they really did hand us Barack Obama and the entire mess that we are in. They’ve gone from being silly and not useful to being actual enemies of the people. How sad. I often wonder how they sleep at night, kiss their kids, go to soccer games, and all that. They are just awful human beings responsible for so much misery.

Rational Thought on September 22, 2010 at 10:35 PM

We need one new government employee – a Federal CFO whose job it is to report on the fiscal status of the combined Federal and state governments in an annual State of the Union message.

faraway on September 22, 2010 at 10:35 PM

Somebody needs to tell Kinsley that these deficits exist because, and only because, Democrats exist.

Really Right on September 22, 2010 at 10:37 PM

State and local governments, unlike the national government in Washington, cannot print money, and many states have constitutions that forbid them to run a deficit.

…..

Hey, I have an idea!

artist on September 22, 2010 at 10:39 PM

And Obamacare goe$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ marching on…

profitsbeard on September 22, 2010 at 10:39 PM

The best paragraph I’ve read in days:

Well, yeah. And Matt Welch points out that Reason magazine has been all over the problem. And if you’re reading a conservative blog like this, you probably knew about it from Reason, or the Weekly Standard, or the American Spectator, Fox News, City Journal, the CATO Institute, National Review, the Heritage Foundation, Rush Limbaugh or any of the other right-leaning media that have been discussing it for years, but prominently for about a year.

Smart money. Big Money is hoarding gold I fear which is why it’s so been so high for so long and that scares the living sh1t out of me.

TheBigOldDog on September 22, 2010 at 10:40 PM

A robust economy fixes so many problems. If the politicians just focus on the economy like a laser beam, deficits go down, pension dollars go up with rising stocks, employment goes up, incomes go up, people can buy homes and housing prices go up..

It’s the economy. Work on the economy.

muckdog on September 22, 2010 at 10:42 PM

No doubt Kinsley considers himself a great thinker and he’s just now catching on?

The liberal cocoon these people live in is almost unbelievable.

RJL on September 22, 2010 at 10:47 PM

Correction: This is the best blog post I’ve read in a long time. The title however does not do it justice.

TheBigOldDog on September 22, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Until that article, I had given no thought whatsoever to shortfalls in state employee pension funds. You?

Man, what can you say about these people? It’s really, really sad. Of course they never thought about it and that is why we are in such trouble.

whbates on September 22, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Kinsley, for an ‘educated elite’, you’re late to the party.

GarandFan on September 22, 2010 at 10:30 PM

Actually he might be one of the first one to show up, so far! These people who live in an insulated bubble of theory are all late to the party.

bluemarlin on September 22, 2010 at 10:51 PM

Until that article, I had given no thought whatsoever to shortfalls in state employee pension funds. You?
Man, what can you say about these people? It’s really, really sad. Of course they never thought about it and that is why we are in such trouble.

whbates on September 22, 2010 at 10:50 PM

They could have read about it, they have been talking about Chicago and their unfunded pensions for at least a year , I am pretty sure.

bluemarlin on September 22, 2010 at 10:52 PM

he is and will always be a fool.

MajorKong on September 22, 2010 at 10:55 PM

It’s the debt, stupid!

2ipa on September 22, 2010 at 10:56 PM

They could have read about it, they have been talking about Chicago and their unfunded pensions for at least a year , I am pretty sure.

bluemarlin on September 22, 2010 at 10:52 PM

This is no excuse, it has been well known for years and some have been sounding the warning bell. It’s people like Kinsley that have poopooed, ridiculed, and demonized the folks that have been trying to do the right thing. Kinsley and folks like him in the press are a major part of the problem.

whbates on September 22, 2010 at 11:04 PM

Until that article, I had given no thought whatsoever to shortfalls in state employee pension funds. You?
Man, what can you say about these people? It’s really, really sad. Of course they never thought about it and that is why we are in such trouble.

whbates on September 22, 2010 at 10:50 PM

As a matter of fact, me and the Mr. have given a lot of thought on this matter. That is why we have our money in, food, land, guns and ammo. They can be *traded* for anything else we need.

Lily on September 22, 2010 at 11:04 PM

It’s time for someone to tell the truth …that we need cuts in spending AND tax increases. It is hard to get elected with that message but that’s the truth everyone in the US is evading.

lexhamfox on September 22, 2010 at 8:40 PM

That is, in fact, a LIE. If you’re not peddling a lie, you’ve fallen for one. The Laffer curve, as well as experience with tax cuts in the 80′s and 2000′s says otherwise.

gryphon202 on September 22, 2010 at 10:07 PM

No… the facts are clear. Laffer Curve? Give me a break. The laffer curve is bollocks and any Greek economist can tell you that…

The real LIE is that you can reduce taxes and still have all those government things you love.

lexhamfox on September 22, 2010 at 11:08 PM

You couldn’t tell liberals about the problems with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac until they collapsed, and their immediate reaction was to blame Bush instead of having any introspection about their own culpability.

The same holds true for the national debt — liberal live for the moment and have little concern for the dangers ahead, especially if it involves reams and reams of red ink. And since the majority of the big media is liberal, they share the same disinterest until the crisis finally hits, and then their Pavlovian response is to blame everyone else for the problem.

jon1979 on September 22, 2010 at 11:08 PM

And if you’re reading a conservative blog like this, you probably knew about it from Reason, or the Weekly Standard, or the American Spectator, Fox News, City Journal, the CATO Institute, National Review, the Heritage Foundation, Rush Limbaugh or any of the other right-leaning media that have been discussing it for years, but prominently for about a year.

But where were all those media outlets when Bush was doubling the national debt and creating a structural national deficit approaching $1 tril?

Kinsley, for an ‘educated elite’, you’re late to the party.

GarandFan on September 22, 2010 at 10:30 PM

Nothing could be further from the truth. The main argument against Bush’s deep tax cuts was that the tax policy would balloon the national debt, endangering the nation’s fiscal health. Former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil hired a group of ‘elites’ to assess Bush’s proposed tax cuts, and the ‘elites’ were unanimously opposed, given their concerns on the tax cuts impact on our national debt. Alan Greenspan opposed the tax cuts for the same reason:

A report commissioned in 2002 by O’Neill, while he was Treasury Secretary, suggested the United States faced future federal budget deficits of more than US$ 500 billion. The report also suggested that sharp tax increases, massive spending cuts, or both would be unavoidable if the United States were to meet benefit promises to its future generations. The study estimated that closing the budget gap would require the equivalent of an immediate and permanent 66 percent across-the-board income tax increase. The Bush administration left the findings out of the 2004 annual budget report published in February 2003

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_O'Neill_(businessman)

Anyone who thinks the ‘elites’ caused our debt problems simply weren’t tuned into the national debate. Those who read only right wing blogs and other news media that were celebrating the Bush ‘economic miracle’ and Cheney’s assertion that ‘deficits don’t matter’ missed out on a very loud chorus of experts who were deeply concerned about both the national debt and our trade imbalances.

bayam on September 22, 2010 at 11:09 PM

The same holds true for the national debt — liberal live for the moment and have little concern for the dangers ahead, especially if it involves reams and reams of red ink.

Actually, Clinton’s economic team raised taxes with the stated intent of balancing the budget, and eventually they did.

And I’m not trying to give Clinton too much credit- he was very lucky- the beneficiary of an economic boom triggered by the end of the Cold War. There’s no such sign of any great economic revival on the horizon for the US, so I don’t know how this country will close the massive deficit gap this time around. With moderate growth, your still looking at a huge structural deficit.

bayam on September 22, 2010 at 11:12 PM

Smart money. Big Money is hoarding gold I fear which is why it’s so been so high for so long and that scares the living sh1t out of me.

TheBigOldDog on September 22, 2010 at 10:40 PM

Silver is more reasonable at $21 and change an oz.

Or less.

profitsbeard on September 22, 2010 at 11:22 PM

I am encouraged that the media is in chaos over losing their power over the Republicans . Coulter wrote about the difficulty of being a republican in this country due to the microscopic oversight that is just the opposite when being a democrat. The Tea party empowerment of the ethical republicans is allowing them to stand up and voice their encouragement. I can’t help but believe that many a good man and women have been beaten down and corrupted by the despicable system that has existed in Washington. Finally we have a semblance of support from the people to put into place more good and responsible representatives that have our country’s interest at heart. The republican party lost their way, understandably, but this is your chance to stand up and regain your reputation of fairness to all. If you do not do your job, you will be removed. We will not allow the media to corrupt any longer.

texriot on September 22, 2010 at 11:25 PM

It is at the point where the numbers don’t even make sense anymore. Are we going to have to go to Ralph’s with quadrillion dollar Zimbabwe notes? Got gold?

abobo on September 22, 2010 at 11:29 PM

Smart money. Big Money is hoarding gold I fear which is why it’s so been so high for so long and that scares the living sh1t out of me.

TheBigOldDog on September 22, 2010 at 10:40 PM

A lot of smart money gives the US barely greater than 50% odds of avoiding insolvency. A religious belief among some voters that tax cuts solve all problems coupled with a massive deficit is basically a recipe for disaster. Not to mention the bitter pill of increasing the retirement age and cutting other social benefits across the board, all needed to balance the budget. I give the Tea Party credit for at least putting military cuts and other ‘untouchables’ on the table.

bayam on September 22, 2010 at 11:29 PM

The real LIE is that you can reduce taxes and still have all those government things you love.

lexhamfox on September 22, 2010 at 11:08 PM

If taxes are reduced for everyone, where do you think the money goes that is kept by those who used to pay it to the government. Do you think there is a chance that it gets put to better use than than what the government would use it for?

Vince on September 22, 2010 at 11:31 PM

Actually, Clinton’s economic team raised taxes with the stated intent of balancing the budget, and eventually they did.

bayam on September 22, 2010 at 11:12 PM

That fits in the category of “True Believer”. Accounting tricks don’t count, but restructuring the welfare rolls does.

whbates on September 22, 2010 at 11:32 PM

The report also suggested that sharp tax increases, massive spending cuts, or both would be unavoidable if the United States were to meet benefit promises to its future generations.

Massive spending cuts works for me.

As does “promising” far less far less to future generations.

But don’t think we haven’t all taken note that you and your ilk start with the false assumption that it’s the government’s money to keep or dole out to us little people as it sees fit.

That’s not the way it works. And your attitude is one of the big reasons the tea party movement has grown so large.

The Lone Platypus on September 22, 2010 at 11:38 PM

bayam on September 22, 2010 at 11:09 PM

As I said before, garbage in and garbage out.

Perhaps O’Neill spent too much time touring Africa with Bono to be taken seriously. This is what happens when you have RINOs taking care of their friends by putting them in responsible positions in government. O’Neill was no conservative.

Vince on September 22, 2010 at 11:42 PM

Perhaps O’Neill spent too much time touring Africa with Bono to be taken seriously. This is what happens when you have RINOs taking care of their friends by putting them in responsible positions in government. O’Neill was no conservative.

Can’t you admit that O’Neil’s predictions re the budget deficit were right?

Perhaps O’Neil isn’t your brand of conservative but he is unarguably a business Republican with experience running one of the largest corporations in the world. It’s a sad day when those on the far right think they know how to run the economy better than the nation’s top executives and capitalists.

bayam on September 22, 2010 at 11:48 PM

A robust economy fixes so many problems. If the politicians just focus on the economy like a laser beam, deficits go down, pension dollars go up with rising stocks, employment goes up, incomes go up, people can buy homes and housing prices go up..

It’s the economy. Work on the economy.

muckdog on September 22, 2010 at 10:42 PM

This group in charge have no idea how economics works but won’t admit so after ridiculing McCain for being so honest. Removing the target from the backs of entrepreneurs would be a welcome first step, but considering the shaky ground we’re on E-types might just put all their capital into their matresses instead of re-investing it into their businesses. Many entrepreneurs are smarter than the govt. employees who try to re-write the tax code in order to re-distribute their earnings.
Combine that with the widespread belief that NO ONE in Washington can be trusted with my tax dollars until someone starts using both McCain’s axe and Obama’s scalpel to cut spending and we are therefore in deep kaka.
Since the upper-and middle-classes have both already been bled in an ill-advised redistribution scheme, yet they hold IOUs for their retirement which draws nigh even while their health fades, who will do the work that pays down the debt? That ever-shrinking pool of children we’re having? Maybe the illegals who are not currently paying taxes but continue, like Aunt Zatuti, to draw benefits? Would–gasp!–a massive amnesty program add enough names to the tax rolls to make a dent in the deficit? I’m not condoning it, but you know it will be part of the discussion if anyone in DC ever takes the debt seriously.

rwenger43 on September 22, 2010 at 11:49 PM

The Left on Public Debt Summation:

Inconceivable!

juanito on September 23, 2010 at 12:37 AM

Hey, Kinsley ! Now have you finally figured out why Buchanan and Novak got so stressed out from trying not to strangle you during the ad breaks on Crossfire ?

viking01 on September 23, 2010 at 12:39 AM

the establishment media reveals itself, not as the people’s watchdog against irresponsible government, but as the irresponsible government’s guard dog against the people. It is ground zero for manufacturing center-left consent.

Lock thread.

rickyricardo on September 23, 2010 at 12:45 AM

A lot of smart money gives the US barely greater than 50% odds of avoiding insolvency. A religious belief among some voters that tax cuts solve all problems coupled with a massive deficit is basically a recipe for disaster. Not to mention the bitter pill of increasing the retirement age and cutting other social benefits across the board, all needed to balance the budget. I give the Tea Party credit for at least putting military cuts and other ‘untouchables’ on the table.

bayam on September 22, 2010 at 11:29 PM

The day that government can begin the serious work of cutting spending, cutting departments and attacking , a la Chris Christie, union and public employee pensions and untold crisis growing in the area of municiple bonds being unpaid (see Harrisburg PA)….Social Security and Medicare too….when that happens we can talk tax increases.

Until then, tax increases are simply a license to steal and spend.

rickyricardo on September 23, 2010 at 12:52 AM

I’m wondering what good the educated elites education is. They need re-education by running a small business.

Mojave Mark on September 23, 2010 at 1:00 AM

Until that article, I had given no thought whatsoever to shortfalls in state employee pension funds. You?

The Wall Street Journal, too, has covered this. Where the heck has this guy been?

BuckeyeSam on September 23, 2010 at 4:06 AM

I’m wondering what good the educated elites education is. They need re-education by running a small business.

Mojave Mark on September 23, 2010 at 1:00 AM

The education at the Ivy League is nothing special, it’s getting in that’s difficult.

From then on, it’s courses you can’t fail and networking with an emphasis on the networking.

The Obama “administration” is so full of Harvard grads that it’s like a Crimson reunion every day.

How is that working out? They learned nothing of value at Harvard other than shameless self-advancement.

NoDonkey on September 23, 2010 at 7:19 AM

Dear Mr. Kinsley,

It is nice that you decided to wake up this morning, but are still groggy due to the amount of loud noise inside the Real World Echo Chamber of the Left. Those of us who listed during the Reagan Administration that told us SSA would be broke before the next generation would ever see a red cent of it returned knew that this system was unsustainable. No amount of talk, serious and earnest talk has tackled this and you, and your friendly cohorts on the Left and Right establishment have told us not to worry our little heads about this for decades. You have played out the false choice of having government services or being a woebegone, lackluster, incredibly stupid people who need to serve government and be beholden to it for goodies.

I have problems with that: it is a power grab at the liberty of our people. There are still those, to this day, worried about that ‘choice’ foisted upon us by those who have meant us harm for decades. This is not a ‘choice’: it is a willful Ponzi Scheme blatantly ignored by the Elite and Establishment to play political games with our economy under the guise of benevolent rulership. Now we find our the Elites, Establishment and Ivy League graduates in politics and their backers are less well grounded in economics than the common bricklayer.

Have a nice cup of Tea Mr. Kinsley.

You have been part of the problem.

Now you see the populace catching wise to the false choices presented about exchanging our inalienable rights for goodies so we are beholden to government and realize that this game is not sustainable in any way, shape or form. You can now decide, for yourself, to walk away from the echo chamber of tyrannical thought and join with free people to accept the harsh reality of what it is you and your backers have foisted on us and help the Nation through the hard times ahead or… things will get done for you, you will criticize them, and Americans will accept being poor, now, so that our children can have unfettered liberty and limited debts that can, finally, be paid off.

Your choice Mr. Kinsley, not mine.

If you wait to long the choice will be made for you and there is no ‘center ground’ no ‘moderate position’ to take as the sides assemble. Liberty or Tyranny, Mr. Kinsley, those are your choices. A hard life of self-decision and self-responsibility or an easy life of being a serf to government.

I choose to do away with the happy lies by government about the good it can do me, as it is lethal to me far more immediately than scrabbling to survive on my own. Do you think government will be any kinder to you? And just how will you justify more goodies that spend us into bankruptcy when the ones we had are already placing us there? I can survive poverty. I cannot survive as a serf and putting my life in the hands of government. I know the choice will most likely cost me my life either way, Mr. Kinsley, but one offers me the hope of helping to lift my burden from following generations.

What is your choice, now that you see the facts, Mr. Kinsley? You are very educated so you should be able to drink some strong Tea, wake up and make a cold, hard rational choice without the emotional baggage attached to it, right? Or do you enjoy the echo chamber of oblivion that leads to Tyranny? And how will you ever escape that Tyranny once it turns on you?

ajacksonian on September 23, 2010 at 7:44 AM

Thus, the establishment media reveals itself, not as the people’s watchdog against irresponsible government, but as the irresponsible government’s guard dog against the people. It is ground zero for manufacturing center-left consent.

Well said and so true.

Worse, there are a number of the same center-left consensual who claim to be associated with the Right by degrees. Which simply amplifies the incompetence of the center-left while also creating a false understanding of what and who “Right” are. I wonder if it is that no one who is involved in media can ever be on the Right, not really.

Lourdes on September 23, 2010 at 8:14 AM

Seizure of all Private property in 5…..4……?

PappyD61 on September 23, 2010 at 8:14 AM

And I’m not trying to give Clinton too much credit- he was very lucky- the beneficiary of an economic boom triggered by the end of the Cold War. There’s no such sign of any great economic revival on the horizon for the US, so I don’t know how this country will close the massive deficit gap this time around. With moderate growth, your still looking at a huge structural deficit.

bayam on September 22, 2010 at 11:12 PM

Created, almost entirely, by liberal pie-in-the-sky entitlement state b.s. Yet every time the GOP attempts to reform any of these entitlements, the liberals scream and cry and claim we want to kill old people and babies, adn then double down and increase benefits, or do something even more ridiculous, like Obamacare.

We can debate all day whether lower taxes increase revenues – but history has shown it does. Revenues went up under Bush – but unfortuntaley so did spending. the problem is never revenue – it is always spending. And the left always wants to increase spending and fights tooth and nail not to cut spending. So you are not even remotely credible on these issues.

You seem pretty upset that the defecit and debt went up under Bush, yet you worship Obama, who has increased both far more than Bush did in 8 years in just 2 years. I know, I know, “Obama had to, to save the economy”. That’s right, Obama’s gifts to the autoworkers unions and the public employees unions (through money to teh states) have really done great things for the economy. Why, his promise of reducing unemployment sure held up. If you look at historical analysis of recessions, this was not much worse than previous recessions, so the idea that Obama had to go on a drunken spending spree is ludicrous. In fact, those policies, added to Obamacare and threats of cap-and-trade and card-check have made the recession last longer and be deeper, and even now that we are out of recession are causing business not to grow. So he is responsible for making the recession worse and halting any chance at real growth.

You have little knowledge about economics or history. You think that tax increases always increase revenues. They only increase revenues a little because people change behavior based on the increases. thus, increases slow the economy and end up being self-destructive. You think that entitlements are great (you support Obamacare), so have no interest in cutting spending. You want to a) tank the economy through taxes, regulation (I’m sure you are for cap and trade and card-check), and increase the debt through entitlement spending – yet you have the audacity to come on here and lecture conservatives about the problem? Get a grip on reality.

the problem, as conservatives have preached for years, is that the gov’t has grown too large and become involved in too many things it has no business being involved in. The left always wants to grow the gov’t, as if that will somehow solve the problem. As long as you are on the side of gov’t growth, you cannot credibly argue about deficits, debt, etc., b/c you are the problem.

Monkeytoe on September 23, 2010 at 8:24 AM

Thus, the establishment media reveals itself, not as the people’s watchdog against irresponsible government, but as the irresponsible government’s guard dog against the people.

This is gold.

Great Post as usual Karl.

The media is all in for the liberal movement and does not even try to hide it anymore.
This comment:

Until that article, I had given no thought whatsoever to shortfalls in state employee pension funds. You?

is an astounding admission of ignorance.
What a bubble these so called journalist live in.
To busy trying to find “hitler” signs at tea parties I guess.

You can add Glenn Reynolds(Instapundit) to the people pounding their desks concerning the pension issue and how dire it is.

Almost every union or government employee I talk to about it is convinced that they are getting a bailout from the democrats on this.
They know the media is on their side just like Obama knows it.
The fact that Obama’s policies and this “bailout” mentality is bad for the country does not concern the media in the least…they have their agenda and they are sticking to it.

Baxter Greene on September 23, 2010 at 8:26 AM

So is this man going to continue to go on television as an “expert”? Of course he is.

Cindy Munford on September 23, 2010 at 8:30 AM

Monkeytoe on September 23, 2010 at 8:24 AM

The “end Social Security safety net for our seniors” started anew with the release of the Republican’s promises.

Cindy Munford on September 23, 2010 at 8:32 AM

Somebody needs to tell Kinsley that these deficits exist because, and only because, Democrats exist.

Really Right on September 22, 2010 at 10:37 PM

There have been plenty of GOP pigs at the trough.

DrMagnolias on September 23, 2010 at 8:40 AM

It’s a sad day when those on the far right think they know how to run the economy better than the nation’s top executives and capitalists.

bayam on September 22, 2010 at 11:48 PM

Are you serious? Have you looked at the bailouts of companies run by the nation’s top executives and so-called capitalists? All of us “on the far right” recognized that the money to shield these people from the consequences of their choices would come from our pockets. Believe it or not, some of us do have an understanding of basic economic principles, and some of us even have an understanding of more advanced economic principles. And some of us even manage to make hard choices to live within our means rather than turning to the government to persuade them to take money from someone else to cover us. So please pardon me if I’m not particularly impressed by all of the nation’s top executives.

DrMagnolias on September 23, 2010 at 8:51 AM

Big Media, Big Government’s parrot reporter.

The media must die for America to be free again.

tarpon on September 23, 2010 at 8:56 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_O‘Neill_(businessman)

Anyone who thinks the ‘elites’ caused our debt problems simply weren’t tuned into the national debate. Those who read only right wing blogs and other news media that were celebrating the Bush ‘economic miracle’ and Cheney’s assertion that ‘deficits don’t matter’ missed out on a very loud chorus of experts who were deeply concerned about both the national debt and our trade imbalances.

bayam on September 22, 2010 at 11:09 PM

Citing wiki is specious at best. Especially when your hyperlink to O’Neill’s page is busted.

You were much funnier back at Captain’s Quarters.

Del Dolemonte on September 23, 2010 at 9:32 AM

Really outstanding piece, Karl – as good as anything to be read anywhere. And, as others have already noted, that bit about our fourth estate now serving as the guard dog of irresponsible government against the people is a clip-’n-save quote if I ever saw one. Props to you, sir.

leilani on September 23, 2010 at 10:23 AM

I had given no thought whatsoever to shortfalls in state employee pension funds. You?

I think about it every single day, yeah.

Bob's Kid on September 23, 2010 at 10:31 AM

Now lissen up, y’all, I’m only going to be saying this about one thousand times over the next 2 years:

The complete and total solution to the entire fiscal problems facing the United States of America is this:

AUDIT THE DADGUMMED BUDGET!!!

Identify EACH AND EVERY DOLLAR brought IN to the coffers, and identify EACH AND EVERY DOLLAR spent.

ALL of them, even the “black projects”, off-budget, soopah-secret, yadda, yadda, yadda slush-fund nobody-knows-we’re-here dollars.

EACH item gets a line. NO exceptions, NO whining, and it’s just too damned bad if people go to jail — they shouldn’t have screwed around in the first place.

Once it’s “lined-out”, then EACH AND EVERY item which is duplicated SHALL BE FOREVER REMOVED FROM THE BUDGET. NO exceptions.

Upon the removal of duplications of spending, then each and every EXPIRED PROGRAM WHICH IS STILL RECEIVING FUNDS shall be forever expunged, unfunded, razed, and salt poured upon its resting place.

Yes, people will lose their jobs. BUT — those would be jobs which AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!

Yes, there will be many government-owned buildings which will become superfluous.

Dang. Who’d a’ thunk THAT?!?! SELL ‘EM!! NOW!!!

The words “Government Surplus” will take on a whole new meaning, and will open a whole industry devoted to selling all that crap we shouldn’t have bought in the first place.

And THAT, my dear friends, is some SERIOUS CONSERVATIVE FISCAL PLANNING.

I urge each and every one of you to not only support this plan, but to blat it from every e-mail. twitter, and facebook that you can think of. Tell your Tea Party mettings, hell, tell EVERYBODY!!

It’s certainly a better plan than anybody ELSE has come up with, and ya can’t deny THAT.

AUDIT THE BUDGET, CUT THE CRAP!!!

Farmer on September 23, 2010 at 10:55 AM

Debt is everywhere you look. Here’s a short inside piece in The New York Times Magazine about state and local unfunded pension obligations for retired employees. They add up to between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. Until that article, I had given no thought whatsoever to shortfalls in state employee pension funds. You?

The false promise of working for the Gubmint–they take care of you for life, no need to save for retirement. Gee whiz, surprise, sur-PRISE, they don’t have the money to pay the pensions!

Then there’s the UAW people–they had cushy $35/hour jobs in the 1970′s and guaranteed pensions for life and suddenly GM and Chrysler can’t pay the bills–no problem, the Gubmint bails them out!

The way out is individual SAVING and INVESTING for retirement. President Reagan encouraged it with tax write-offs for money saved in IRA’s and 401k’s, and it sent the stock market into the stratosphere. President Bush tried it in 2005 with a proposal to allow employees to divert payroll taxes into private accounts, and Democrats hogged the media to tell seniors THEY were “saving” Social Security by doing NOTHING.

Hey Democrats, wake up! This problem has been brewing for decades, and you deliberately did NOTHING about it. You can’t blame Bush for this–he tried to fix it, and YOU stopped him!

Steve Z on September 23, 2010 at 11:17 AM

No one knows what to do except spend it.

Bishop on September 22, 2010 at 10:30 PM

You could invest it in precious metals.

Not just gold and silver, but lead and brass.

UltimateBob on September 23, 2010 at 11:39 AM

“A robust economy fixes so many problems. If the politicians just focus on the economy like a laser beam, deficits go down, pension dollars go up with rising stocks, employment goes up, incomes go up, people can buy homes and housing prices go up..

It’s the economy. Work on the economy.”

muckdog on September 22, 2010 at 10:42 PM

The problem with the government is that they have focused on the economy in every misguided legislation they have done. From Fannie and Freddie, to the stimulus, to the financial reg bill, every motion to help the economy is based on a political decision i.e. help win votes or pay off my cronies instead of sound economic decisions based on reality. No, I do not want these idiots to do anymore damage. Just take the heel of their boot off the economy and this thing will turn around.

train on September 23, 2010 at 12:28 PM