Supplemental: The New York Times on the Trump budget plan!

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2015

What, them report matters of substance?
How does the New York Times cover our White House campaigns?

In the most fatuous way they can manage! Consider some recent examples.

Last Saturday, the famous newspaper published a 1200-word news report about Candidate Bush's sense of humor out on the campaign trail. Featuring a large photograph of the jocular hopeful, the report filled the top half of the paper's page A13.

This morning, the presidential campaign appears on the paper's front page. And dearest darlings, how delish! In a 1400-word news report, Amy Chozick thrashes back through the Lewinsky affair as she discusses the claim that such events will be "fair game" in next year's general election.

We'd have to put Chozick on our list of nominees for Worst Journalist of the Year. This morning, she misses few talking-points, no matter how silly or frivolous.

In fairness, she does omit Marla Maple's famous statement, teased to the surface by Diane Sawyer, that her sexual congress with Trump was "the best sex I've ever had." Chozick omits little else.

Below, you see the way the Times fatuous star begins today's news report. All this text appears on the paper's front page:
CHOZICK (12/30/15): When scandal engulfed Mr. Clinton's White House, Mr. Trump leapt to the president's defense. ''He's probably got the toughest skin I've ever seen, and I think he's a terrific guy,'' Mr. Trump told CNN.

Then there were Mr. Trump's pitches to the former president to settle in a gilded Trump building in Manhattan when he and Hillary Clinton left the White House. They moved to Westchester instead. His overtures for them to vacation at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., were also rebuffed. The Clintons preferred the Dominican Republic.

When Mr. Clinton had trouble joining a conservative Westchester golf club, Mr. Trump boasted that he welcomed the former president to a newly built Trump National Golf Club, a five-minute drive from the Clintons' Chappaqua, N.Y., home.

''He's a great gentleman, a good golfer and a wonderful guy,'' the real estate developer said of Mr. Clinton, who, in reality, is a so-so golfer known for taking mulligans.
By paragraph 4, Chozick is repeating the hoary old chestnut about Bill Clinton being "known for taking mulligans." Plus, he's only "a so-so-golfer," the fatuous scribe reports.

This is the way this pitiful newspaper covers our White House campaigns.

On Monday, we raised a question. The Times had devoted 1200 words to Candidate Bush's sense of humor. How many words had the paper devoted to Candidate Trump's formal (and ludicrous) budget plan, which the ludicrous candidate released on September 28, more than three months ago?

According to several major analyses, the ludicrous plan would massively swell the federal government's annual deficits. The Tax Foundation, a conservative-leaning group, had presented one such analysis back in September. Last week, the Tax Policy Center, a liberal-leaning group, had presented a similar analysis.

According to the Tax Policy Center, the candidate's ludicrous budget proposal would increase federal deficits by $11.2 trillion over the next ten years. Plus or minus a couple of nickels and dimes, the Tax Foundation reached the same judgment back in the fall.

By way of contrast, Candidate George Bush's much-discussed tax cut proposal in Campaign 2000 was projected to cost the federal government only $1.6 trillion over its first ten years—and his proposal came at a time of large projected budget surpluses. Trump's proposal is crazily larger than Bush's earlier, widely-discussed budget plan.

Given its projected effects on federal balance sheets, Trump's proposal is ludicrous, crazy. It's the work of a con man, a numbskull, a fraud.

That said, how many words has the New York Times devoted to this matter as its collection of nitwits and hacks have rummaged through former presidents' mulligans and current candidates' senses of humor? How often have New York Times subscribers read about this ludicrous aspect of the Trump budget proposal?

They've read about Bush's sense of humor. How about Trump's "budget plan?"

Our answer: To all intents and purposes, Times subscribers have never read about this aspect of the Trump budget plan. To all intents and purposes, they've never read about the analyses conducted by the Tax Foundation and the Tax Policy Center.

As noted, Trump's proposal was released on September 28. The next day, on September 29, the Times presented a news report which noted that the proposal "would grow budget deficits by trillions of dollars over a decade"—full stop.

In that initial news report, Josh Barro made no attempt to say how many trillions were involved. To read Barro's perfectly competent next-day report, just click here.

(Warning! According to an appended notation on Nexis, you'll be reading "a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.")

In that September 29 report, Barro said that Trump's proposal "would grow budget deficits by trillions of dollars over a decade"—full stop. At that point, this important topic ceased to exist in New York Times news reporting.

On Friday, October 2, Paul Krugman wrote an op-ed column saying that Trump's proposal would "lavish huge cuts on the wealthy while blowing up the deficit."

"For what it's worth, it looks as if Trump's plan would make an even bigger hole in the budget than Jeb's," Krugman added, offering no further information about the size of budget holes in question.

Krugman is a columnist, not a news reporter. And alas! The Times has offered no further reporting about the Trump proposal.

No news report has ever explained how many trillions in deficit spending are involved in Trump's ludicrous budget proposal. No news report has ever attempted to put the numbers into some sort of useful context—by comparing it to the size of previous budget plans; by explaining what annual deficits would look like with and without Trump's proposal.

According to the Nexis archives, the projected size of Candidate Trump's new deficit spending has been mentioned just once in the hard-copy Times. It happened on Sunday, October 4, in Barro's "Economic Scene" column, which appeared on page 3 of the paper's "Sunday Business" section.

Below, you see the relevant text. According to the Nexis archives, this is the only time the New York Times has published the relevant figure, whether from the Tax Foundation or the Tax Policy Center:
BARRO (10/4/15): In the 1998 film ''There's Something About Mary,'' there is a scene where Ben Stiller's character picks up a hitchhiking drifter. The drifter explains that he's really a businessman, and he has an idea that will someday make him a fortune: Seven-Minute Abs, a home exercise video that will produce the same great results as Eight-Minute Abs, but in one minute less.

Mr. Stiller's character responds that it sounds like a great idea, unless someone comes out with Six-Minute Abs. The drifter, played by Harland Williams, gets angry. ''Nobody's coming up with six! Who works out in six minutes? You won't even get your heart going!''

With my apologies in advance for comparing him to an unhinged drifter, this is roughly what happened to Jeb Bush in September.

He came out with the tax policy version of Seven-Minute Abs: a plan to cut taxes by $3 trillion to $4 trillion over a decade, with no need to worry about the budget because he'll produce 4 percent economic growth. Just like Seven-Minute Abs, it's so easy, you might not even believe it's possible!

Then Donald Trump responded with essentially the same plan, but bigger: $11 trillion in tax cuts; economic growth as high as 6 percent; the biggest, classiest, most luxurious plan you've ever seen. Six. Minute. Abs.
According to the Nexis archives, that represents the only time the New York Times has quantified the deficit spending which would result from Candidate Trump's crazy budget proposal. Presumably, Barro was working from the Tax Foundation analysis, although he didn't specifically say.

According to the Nexis archives, that represents the only occasion on which a Times subscriber has been exposed to that astonishing number. And good God:

To be exposed to that number in so fleeting a fashion, subscribers had to read an analysis column on page 3 of that Sunday Business section. No front-page reporting allowed! Darlings, what a consummate buzzkill!

This morning, on the Times front page, we get to hear the delicious old clunker about Bill Clinton's mulligans. Meanwhile, to all intents and purposes, the famous newspaper has never stooped to the task of reporting the basic facts about Candidate Trump's ludicrous budget proposal.

Dearest darlings, the New York Times avoids such topics as Dracula shrank from the cross. This morning, the paper is back to its cherished Lewinsky tales. Those tales appear on the paper's front page, where the craziest budget proposal in history has never been allowed to intrude.

Last week, the Tax Policy Center seconded the earlier analysis by the Tax Foundation. Trump's proposal will cost the federal government $11.2 trillion over ten years, the TPC said. It would produce more than a trillion dollars in new deficit spending every single year!

It's been more than a week since that analysis appeared. Like the Tax Foundation analysis before it, it hasn't been mentioned in the hard-copy Times.

Instead, we got a full news report about Bush's sense of humor. And dearest darlings! Miss Lewinsky is back!

Branding and marketing to the side, the New York Times is our nation's dumbest newspaper. Our liberal world has been happy with this state of affairs for several decades now.

Blog post only: The analysis by the Tax Policy Center did get mentioned last week, but only in a Times blog post by Alan Rappeport.

The post ran 573 words. Rappeport offered this somewhat strange formulation:

"According to analysts at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the cuts would mean nearly $25 trillion in lost government revenue over the next 20 years, and swell the ratio of debt to gross domestic product from about 74 percent to 180 percent."

Everything said there is accurate. That said, it's strange to report the twenty-year outlook while omitting the more conventional (and more reliable) ten-year analysis. And by the way:

The Tax Policy Center actually said that Trump's proposal would increase deficit spending by $34.1 trillion over those twenty years. Rappeport reported the smaller number (revenue lost), rather than the more significant number (added deficit spending), which includes added interest costs.

Candidate Bush's sense of humor got 1200 words in the hard-copy Times, accompanied by a large photograph of the funnin' hopeful. The craziest budget proposal in history got less than half as many words—and only on-line, of course.

This is the way the New York Times plays. Only a failed and failing people would tolerate such a long-running disgrace.

32 comments:

  1. I was already in love with KISS before Love Gun released. I had the single, since the title track 45 released before the record and I loved the song (not the flipside). To this day, Love Gun remains my favorite KISS tune. I loved the record for what it was, a new KISS record. It had a killer cover, the toy gun, the cool inner sleeve, and the order form, not to mention new KISS songs. I was in heaven. It ruled then, even though now at 50 years old I can be a bit critical of the sound of the record but still I enjoyed the hell out of it. And then the shit really hit the fan when Alive II was released! What an incredible package that was!!! To this day the Alive II version of "I Stole Your Love" remains my favorite version of that song.

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  2. Plus dearest darlings, Bob Somerby, and oldie out of Harvard, still hasn't learned the difference between a tax proposal and a budget plan. When Bob clues you in on Mr. Trump's expenditure plans, let us know.

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    1. what is the plan on the spending side to balance the cuts on the tax side?

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    2. Here, you can do the math [LINK], yourself.

      [QUOTE from The Washington Post]

      To reduce taxes, Donald Trump plans on ‘tremendous’ budget cuts

      By Jenna Johnson Oct. 1

      As Donald Trump promised to dramatically cut federal income taxes for all Americans earlier this week, one question kept popping up: How exactly would the Republican presidential hopeful pay for these massive cuts?

      Trump has said his tax cuts for individuals and corporations would immediately spark dramatic economic growth -- perhaps as high as 6 percent per year, even though for the past five years that rate has not topped 2.5 percent. Tax experts caution that Trump's proposed tax cuts could add trillions of dollars to the national deficit over a decade.

      Trump says that won't happen because he also plans to make "tremendous cuts" to the federal budget. During an interview with CNN's Don Lemon that aired Wednesday night, Trump said that in the coming weeks he will identify "outrageous" and "incredible" federal expenses that he would reduce, cut or renegotiate. That would likely include cutting "huge sections" of the departments of education and environmental protection, he said. Trump estimated that the U.S. loses "tens of billions of dollars" because of theft, incompetence and wasteful spending.

      "So here's the thing: There's tremendous cutting that goes with my tax plan that I haven't talked about yet, but that will be phase two," Trump said in the interview. "So we're going to have a government that's going to be much leaner, much better, much meaner, but it's going to be meaner in the sense... of it's going to be efficient." (article continues...) [END QUOTE]

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    3. Well, both you fellers seem clever enough to note there seems to be a promise of a budget plan, but no such plan as of yet.

      Tat doesn't stop Mr. Somerby from being both technically incaccurate and misleading for no apparent reason. But if he wants to be loose with terminology, tell me who is to criticize someone who can't tell the difference between "creating" the internet and "inventing" it?

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    4. What do you need to know? The budget's gonna be awesome. We're gonna have growth like you never seen before. We don't need to press for the details. 6% growth and awesome budget cuts. fuhgedaboudit!!!!

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    5. CMike, that article really says next to nothing about how trump will balance the revenue loss - there are no numbers for me to "do the math myself". maybe you can do it for me. essentially he is saying "trust me". I eagerly await "phase two" to see the details...which judging by this was promised on or around Oct 1.

      And that gobblygook about tax cuts spuring fantastic economic growth. they said the same thing about the bush tax cuts...they would spur so much economic growth that they would pay for themselves. that never materialized did it. in fact, my understanding is that it has been pretty well established that while tax cuts do spur some economic growth in certain cases, they rarely "pay for themselves" as many like to believe.

      MM I love your trump impersonation LOL.

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    6. hey CMike - I just did some looking online and here is my math. the trump plan is estimated to create a $9.5 trillion reduction in revenue over 10 yrs, before accounting for interest costs. let's assume for simplicity that this equates to $1 trillion per year. 2015 discretionary spending, which includes all government spending outside of social security, medicare, snap, etc, is about $1.11 trillion. of this $1.11 trillion, about 53% is the military.

      so if my math is correct, trump would need to essentially eliminate virtually all of government discretionary spending, including the military, veteran's benefits, food/ag, non-mandatory transportation, energy/environment, etc. to cover his proposed tax cuts.

      boy am I glad I did the math. i realized that trump is even more full of sh*t than I thought he was.

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    7. Trump also wants to radically increase military spending, like all the GOP candidates except Paul and says he won't cut social security, except for the well to do. That big wall will cost something too, if Mexico won't foot the bill. It may include eliminating various popular deductions, e.g., for home mortgage interest, state income taxes, home real estate taxes.

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    8. December 31, 2015 at 9:52 AM says:

      CMike, that article really says next to nothing about how trump will balance the revenue loss - there are no numbers for me to "do the math myself"....

      Great catch! I hadn't realized that but now that you mention it, that would be a problem for coming up with a net figure. It sounded impressive but with your caveat in mind as I reread it, maybe Mr. Trump has been trying to pull a fast one on wonks like me. I'm going to have to rethink the level of support I was going to be committing his campaign. Or maybe from here on out it would be best if you would do all my thinking for me. I sure hope for the rest of the campaign season no one else uses your screen name in these threads, that would be confusing and leave me in as much of a muddle as I was in before I read your comment.

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    9. actually, i was hoping that you would do some thinking for yourself. trump's $1 trillion per year is almost 30% of the entire federal budget. do we really think that trump has a plan to balance that?

      make fun of me as much as you want, but the facts of the matter are this:

      The deficit in 2015 was about $440 billion. This represents almost 40% of the roughly $1.1 trillion in discretionary spending. Since military spending is more than half of discretionary, it would be impossible to close the gap using just discretionary spending, unless we cut every other discretionary government program there is or cut hard into military. I don't see either happening, and i think cutting hard into military at a time of great global conflict and uncertainty is probably a bad idea. This leads us inevitably to the third rail, Medicare, social security, and Medicaid. without cuts to these programs we will never balance the budget. there is one more option, the fourth rail, tax increases.

      Any candidate that is proposing tax cuts at this point is essentially handing their credit card bill to your children and your children's children. at best, we should maintain status quo and look for cuts and try to reduce the deficit over time.

      at best, we need some combination of tax increases and spending cuts, including cuts to third rail programs, unless Cheney was right and deficits don't matter.

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    10. sorry, that should be at worst maintain status quo, at best tax increases mixed with spending cuts...

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  3. It's funny that The Times story feels free to "correct" Trump's statement about Clinton's golf skills in a way that it would never do if, say, someone said that tax cuts increase revenues, or that social security won't be there for people retiring in 20 years.

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    1. Why should Clinton have better golf skills when he wasn't born to money and was a hard working person in office? Golf takes practice and it costs a lot of money. The reporter was labeling Clinton as not an elite, not one of the NY Times favored demographic, low class.

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  4. Are you saying Chozick is this year's Kit Steele? She may have dragged out Paula Jones but in her favor, omitted Vince Foster.

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  5. "Given its projected effects on federal balance sheets, Trump's proposal is ludicrous, crazy. It's the work of a con man, a numbskull, a fraud."

    Umm, hasn't the sainted Obama administration already increased the deficit by more than 11 trillion? So why is Trump's proposal so awful?

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    1. I was close - when Obama retires the national debt is projected to be close to $20 trillion. He inherited a debt of only $10.5 trillion from Bush. Thus, after a mere 8 years in office Obama will have added just about $10 trillion, and just about doubled, the national debt. This is no better (and arguably much WORSE, percentage wise, than the projected debt ten years after Trump's hypothetical plan takes effect. So spare me the hyperventilating about the evils of Trumpnomics until you're just as willing to lambaste Obama.

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    2. Extra!Extra!
      Tax cuts don't increase revenue and fuels the deficit.

      maj's subscription to "Real World News" expired in 1980.

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    3. maj is yet another example of how hard up and silly wingbat trolling has become.

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    4. i will say it maj, both parties should be working together to control spending and balance the budget. and we as an electorate should demand it. If the goal is a balanced budget, "the other party did it too" shouldn't be used to justify a bad plan, and trumps plan is bad, as were some Obama policies over the last 8 years, when viewed through a budgetary lens.

      as mr. somerby likes to say, "let's talk". the deficit in 2015 was about $440 billion. This represents almost 40% of the roughly $1.1 trillion in discretionary spending. Since military spending is more than half of discretionary, it would be impossible to close the gap using just discretionary spending, unless we cut every other government program or cut hard into military, which i don't see happening. This leads us inevitably to the third rail, medicare, social security, and Medicaid. without cuts to these programs we will never balance the budget. the only other way to balance is the fourth rail, tax increases.

      Any candidate that is proposing tax cuts at this point is essentially handing their credit card bill to your children and your children's children. at best, we should maintain status quo and look for cuts.

      most likely the answer is some combination of tax increases and spending cuts, unless Cheney was right and deficits don't matter.

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    5. "most likely the answer is some combination of tax increases and spending cuts ...."

      Regarding the latter, we could start with corporate welfare and defense spending. Beyond that, there's virtually nothing left to cut.

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  6. What's more, Trump, like Republicans before him, insists that his plan balances the budget. No credibility whatsoever.

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  7. No fair picking on a journalist during the week between Christmas and New Year's, notoriously the slowest news week of the year, matched only by the newsdog days of August.

    An NPR fill-in host was making that plea this morning as he launched into another silly story which I've managed to forget rather than obsess over. And NPR only has to fill up a couple of hours in the morning, not miles of column inches.

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  8. Sloppy writing by Bob: "the candidate's ludicrous budget proposal would increase federal deficits by $11.2 trillion over the next ten years."

    What Bob means is, "[Assuming that Trump didn't cut spending and that his tax cuts had no impact on the economy] the candidate's ludicrous budget proposal would increase [the sum of the annual] federal deficits by $11.2 trillion over the next ten years."

    Note also that the sum of the annual federal deficits is the same as the increase in the national debt over that period. Bob is not saying that the national debt would increase by $11.2 trillion. Rather, Trump's tax cut would make the national debt increase by $11.2 trillion more than it would increase without that tax cut. The full 10-year increase in national debt would be more like $20 trillion.

    BTW the way, it would be interesting to compare this figure to the 10-year increase in national debt under Hillary's plan and Bernie's plan.

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    1. those are all fair points. and in reading this blog i get the impression like that is exactly the type of discussion and comparisons mr somerby would like the media to undertake, as opposed to the bs trivia and tribal wars we usually get.

      to my knowledge, the only candidate that has even mentioned balancing the budget is Kasich, back in October (haven't seen much about that in the news). although as far as i can tell he really didn't release enough detail to evaluate if he can do it or not.

      anyway, i think the largest take home point that we should all be talking about is $11.2 trillion in tax cuts is huge (to borrow trump-speak) and begs the question, is it possible to balance them so the proposal is debt neutral, and if so, how.

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    2. Koch Brothers

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    3. Dear no-caps @ multiple comments - usually in conjunction with David in Cal's partisan nonsense - knock yourself out:

      https://www.cbo.gov/publication/49892

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  9. According to Megan McCardle at Bloomberg, Sanders' agenda would cost around $1.5 trillion per year. So, it's even ludicrouser than Trump's ludicrous tax cut.

    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-12-30/sanders-and-clinton-s-fake-middle-class

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    1. Here's the phony "authority" behind on this troll's source for his ridiculous comparison of Trump's tax cut and Sander's "agenda":

      Megan McArdle is a Koch-trained conservative activist working as a business journalist and pundit. She earned her MBA from the University of Chicago, received journalism training at the Kochs’ flagship libertarian think-tank, the Institute for Humane Studies, and has used her position at The Atlantic and, most recently, at Bloomberg News, to run cover for and promote Koch interests and the Republican Party agenda. In early 2009, a GOP outfit backed by the Kochs hailed McArdle for her “leadership role in … re-branding the Republican party.” McArdle continues to conceal the extent of her deeply conflicted relationships with the Koch influence-peddling machine.

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    2. "According to Megan McArdle..." = I got nothing.

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