Dean Baker is annoyed this morning at Washington Post reporter Steve Mufson, who seems genuinely over his head and going down for the third time in trying to cover the budget:
Beat the Press: One Year, Ten Years, What's the Difference? The Washington Post goes the extra mile in meaningless budget reporting this morning. It reports on the Democrats' efforts to increase the royalties assessed on energy companies for drilling on public land and also taking back some of the tax breaks given them by the Republican Congress. The article tells readers that repealing the tax cuts would save $5 billion, while increasing royalty payments would raise $9 billion to $11 billion.
Of course all the people reading the article knew that these projections refer to a 10-year time frame so there was no reason to include this information in the article. For the full story, the Post would have told readers that the $5 billion in tax breaks would be equal to 0.017 percent of projected federal spending over this period and the $9-$11 billion in royalties is equal to 0.03 percent to 0.04 percent of federal spending.
Readers should have this information. These tax breaks and royalty free contracts were an outrage, but taking them back is not going to have a big effect on the budget and no one should be led to believe otherwise.