Stupidest Man Alive: Special "Truthiness" Edition
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Covering the Economy: Federal Budget Proposals: February 8, 2006

For Wednesday February 8 class:

Jonathan Weisman's Tuesday budget story at the Washington Post: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2006/02/jonathan_weisma.html
Stan Collender's Wednesday budget story at the National Journal: http://nationaljournal.com/collender.htm
National Journal 2007 budget proposal special report: http://nationaljournal.com/members/pubfeatures/pdf/2006/budget07/
David Sanger's Tuesday budget story for the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/07/politics/07budget.html

There are three kinds of federal budget proposals: (a) those that describe the policies that a powerful president expects to get through congress this year; (b) those that describe a weaker president's opening bid, that is to say what he hopes but does not expect to get through congress; and (c) those that are not policy but political documents, crafted to get the maximum amount of favorable press by leaving out things like, say, additional expenditures for the war in Iraq and the costs of fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax.

A good budget story should--Brad says--do all of the following:

  1. Tell readers what the government is doing on their behalf.
  2. Tell readers how the president wants to change policies in order to make the government do something different from what it has been or is projected to be doing.
  3. Tell readers how congress is likely to alter the president's budget proposals.
  4. Tell readers what kind of budget--a, b, or c--the president has submitted.

How well do each of these perform these four missions? Are these the missions that a budget story should perform? What alternative missions or goals would you suggest for a budget story?

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