Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Too Fed Up to say it right

This is an incredibly difficult post for me to write. There are so many angles that they all receive short shrift. And it's just a frustrating tale to be told.

For starters, here's the opening paragraph which will tell you about all you need to know:
Confounding President Bush's pledges to rein in government growth, federal discretionary spending expanded by 12.5 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, capping a two-year bulge that saw the government grow by more than 27 percent, according to preliminary spending figures from congressional budget panels.
The sudden rise in spending subject to Congress's annual discretion stands in marked contrast to the 1990s, when such discretionary spending rose an average of 2.4 percent a year. Not since 1980 and 1981 has federal spending risen at a similar clip.

Now, I know journalists and writers like a rhetorical flourish from time to time, if not more often, but "confound"? Now confound can be used to mean "shame," which would be accurate in this case. But isn't confound more commonly used to mean confuse or baffle. Wonder how many readers picked up the wrong idea? They wouldn't be alone, as the Post is apparently floating in la-la land.

What would lead me to think the Post is in la-la land? Try this one on for size:

The preliminary spending figures for 2003 also raise questions about the government's long-term fiscal health. Bush administration officials have said fiscal restraint and "pro-growth" tax cuts should put the government on a path to a balanced budget. Bush has demanded that spending that is subject to Congress's annual discretion be capped at 4 percent.

Newsflash, the preliminary spending figures for 2003 do not raise questions about the government's long-term fiscal health. Rather they new spending figures add more fuel to the roaring, raging, make what happened in California recently look like a 1-year old's birthday cake, fire (ooh, look, I too can be rhetorically flourishing). The questions about the government's long -term fiscal health were raised when Bush began pounding the drum for his 2001 tax cuts while the economy began a fainting spell. The questions were intensified and made real by the end of August 2001 when new long-term budget projections were released. And these fiscal health questions were raised to a new level just this past winter when the Administration released its FY 2004 budget which contained projections of exploding long term deficits. This paragraph is actually all about the journalistic false god of objectivity. He said, but on the other hand, she said. Well it turns out she's a freaking liar. A "tell you she's an orphan after you meet her family" (to steal a line from the Black Crows) kind of liar. But your not objective if you call a lie a lie apparently. And since the Bush administration won't admit the truth they publish, that there is a long-term crushing debt problem, journalists have painted themselves into a corner and we're left with this drivel.

Speaking the truth is Stan Collender (whoever that is): "This is an administration that cannot possibly take up the mantle of fiscal conservatism. It's probably the least fiscally conservative in history." He plumps spending. He cuts taxes. In what way does this sound like an Administration, hell a Party (in the case of Republicans) that knows what it's doing. It's the difference between governing and loving the power.

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