Gives mainstream "press corps" a pass: We go way back with Jackie Calmes, though we don't think we ever met her.
Back in the day, on several occasions, she treated readers of the Wall Street Journal to our incomparable jokes, right there on the front page, where the Journal featured her weekly "Washington Wire" piece.
Today, Calmes is at the New York Times, where she seems to hold the official throwback chair. She's the one who composes competent news reports about topics which used to be taken as serious while everyone else just rattles around in the realm of the piddle and foofaw.
Yesterday morning, Calmes wrote a news report about the crazy tax proposals of the major Republican candidates.
The Times had avoided this topic for roughly five months at that point. But when this fully ridiculous paper decided to offer a news report, they assigned the task to our old benefactor and she did her usual solid job.
That said, our journalistic culture has completely collapsed in the current campaign. In yesterday's paper, those tax proposals were reviewed by Calmes on page A12 of the Times; the Times reserved its front-page slot for a longer piece about the fact that Ted Cruz had fired a staffer in the wake of the latest gong-show distraction out on the campaign trail. For more information, click here.
Those important proposals were pushed to A12; the latest bullshit was on page one. Plus, Ashley Parker wrote a memoir about how much she [HEARTED] Jeb Bush! This is the culture which now exists at the silly, ridiculous Times.
Tomorrow, we'll take note of a technical point we think Calmes could have done better. For today, let's compliment Ruth Marcus for what she wrote about Trump's crazy tax proposal, and other ludicrous claims by Trump, in Sunday's Washington Post.
Calmes did an analysis piece in the Times; Marcus penned an opinion column. That said, her column had more information about Trump's crazy proposals and claims than the Times had bothered to publish in the five months since he released his crazy tax proposal.
To Marcus, Trump's manifest lunacy qualifies as a "scandal." Headline included, she started like this:
MARCUS (2/21/16): The Trump scandal no one talks aboutFrom there, Marcus listed the various crazy ways Trump claims he can balance the budget. Here's one chunk of her column:
In this depressingly unserious campaign season, it's time—past time—to take Donald Trump seriously. In particular, to take seriously what passes for Trump's domestic policy, aside from that wall.
Trump purports to care about the national debt. "We can't keep doing this," he said of the debt at MSNBC's town hall Wednesday. "We've got to start balancing budgets."
MARCUS: Another Trump favorite—empowering Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices—produces claimed savings, $300 billion annually, that are mathematically impossible. Medicare spending on prescription drugs was $78 billion in 2014. Total national spending on prescription drugs, not just by the federal government, was about $300 billion in 2014, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Stick with Trump! He'll get the drug companies to pay us to take their meds!Trump claims he can save $300 billion every year. He says he'll do so in a program which spends one-fourth that amount.
Push Trump on cuts elsewhere in the budget, and you get suggestions that are paltry and unrealistic.
"I'm going to cut spending big league," Trump pronounced at the MSNBC town hall. His sole example, when pressed by Joe Scarborough, was the Education Department.
Which part, please? The $28 billion to fund Pell Grants for low-income college students? The $16 billion to local school districts with large numbers of low-income elementary and secondary students? The $13 billion to states for special education? The entire $78 billion federal education budget?
The inanity runs downhill from there. Before long, Marcus got to that crazy tax proposal:
MARCUS: This would not be so maddening if Trump were not simultaneously pushing a tax cut costing double-digit trillions of dollars over the next decade. His Republican rivals peddle big tax cuts—Trump's is huuuger.The lunacy of Trump's tax proposal is clear as Marcus proceeds from there. Technical note:
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates its 10-year cost at $9.5 trillion, or $11.2 trillion with interest. The Tax Foundation gives the Trump plan credit for generating economic growth; as a result, its estimated $12 trillion cost of Trump's plan would drop to a mere—mere!— $10 trillion, excluding interest.
How to pay for this? The Tax Policy Center illustrates the magnitude of cuts required...
In the passage we've posted, Marcus includes a basic technical point, the technical matter Calmes skipped. More on that tomorrow.
Marcus calls this lunacy from Candidate Trump "depressingly unserious;" she's certainly right about that. That said, she fails to mention another key point—her colleagues in her own press corps have also been "depressingly unserious" in their approach to this astonishing pigpile of nonsense.
In its basic reporting, Marcus' own Washington Post has basically ignored Trump's crazy tax proposal, just as the New York Times has done. As our journalistic culture collapses, such topics are no longer part of our front-page discourse. Speculation and species of piddle obsess our "reporters" instead.
Marcus name-calls Candidate Trump, but as she does, she gives the national "press corps" a pass. But then, it has always worked this way:
It's called a code of silence. Scrupulously, that code is maintained all through what we call "the press."