Each time I think to myself "Brad, aren't you being too harsh on the national newspapers like the Washington Post?" something happens to make me answer: "No! You are not harsh enough!"
This time it is Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post. Jonathan Bernstein watches the trainwreck:
A plain blog about politics: You Keep Using That Word...: Via Jonathan Cohn... WaPo's Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane say....
Democrats were demanding more than $800 billion in new tax revenue, causing heartburn among the hard-line fiscal conservatives who dominate the House Republican caucus.
Wrong. Fiscal conservatives are deficit hawks. They don't want the federal budget to run a deficit. That's what fiscal conservative has pretty much always meant. Fiscal conservatives do not dominate the House Republican caucus. Fiscal conservatives appear to have virtually no influence with House Republicans. To the contrary: as far as I can tell from their actions, mainstream conservatives just don't believe in the concept of budgets at all these days. If you don't believe in budgets, then you really can't (effectively) care about deficits, no matter how much lip service you give to it. All of which is well within their rights (although at least a bit goofy, given both their anti-deficit rhetoric and the mathematical facts of individual spending and tax decisions).
But it's wrong for objective observers to describe Republicans as fiscal conservatives, when in fact it's Democrats, for better or worse, who appear through their actions to actually care about reducing budget deficits. It's bad reporting by Montgomery and Kane.
But there is more: the very next thing to cross my desk--for unrelated reasons--was another Lori Montgomery special, this one from last August:
CBO says stimulus may have added 3.3 million jobs: The CBO said the act also increased the nation's gross domestic product by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent in the second quarter, indicating that the stimulus may have been the primary source of growth in the U.S. economy. The Commerce Department estimates that GDP grew 2.4 percent in the second quarter, a figure many economists expect to be revised lower in a report due out Friday.
Lori Montgomery thinks that the CBO said: "the stimulus was responsible for between 1.7% and 4.5% growth in the second quarter." She notes that actual growth in the second quarter was at the rate of 2.4%/year, and concludes "the stimulus may have been the primary source of growth in the U.S. economy".
The CBO said: "compare what happened in this world with what we think would have happened in an alternative world in which the stimulus bill was not passed. We estimate that in this world the level of GDP is between 1.7% and 4.5% higher than in the alternative world."
She simply did not understand what the CBO report meant.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?