Paul Krugman: Counterattack of the Deficit Scold Deadenders:
The deficit scolds have not had a good year. They’ve seen their forecasts of fiscal disaster fizzle; they’ve seen their favorite economic analyses crash and burn; they’ve seen the rise of a faction with actual power in the Democratic party that refuses to acknowledge their wisdom. This last bit is crucial: deficit scoldery has always depended on the illusion of consensus.... What the scolds have left, however, is a significant part of the press corps that hasn’t gotten the memo... [and] believes... normal journalistic standards should be set aside when the deficit is concerned....
And so, as Kevin Drum points out, [Lori Montgomery in]... WaPo has a report on the apparent mini-budget deal that simply takes it for granted that the failure to achieve a large-scale deficit reduction plan is a terrible failure.... It’s even worse than Drum suggests... an editorial posing as a news report... deeply misleading reporting on the facts.... We are told:
Where would that leave the nation’s financial outlook? Not in a particularly good place.... Congressional Budget Office projections show the red ink receding over the next two years. But annual deficits would start growing again in 2016 as the baby-boom generation moves inexorably into retirement. And the debt would again soar.
Ah. So we look at the CBO’s latest projection.... See that debt soar! Or, actually, be more or less stable for the next decade. In fact, CBO’s projections are distinctly non-alarming even 20 years out.
It’s also curious who the article cites as authorities.... Bill Bixby... the fiscal responsibility reward... [he] gave to Paul Ryan. When challenged on that award, Bixby responded with an outright falsehood:
Paul Ryan... Bixby announced, had “earned his Fiscy Award really by being the first [congressman] in several years to step forward with a specific scorable budget plan that would actually solve the nation’s long-term structural deficits.”...
[But] Ryan’s plan... wasn’t... “scorable”--he had instead simply given the CBO estimates for future revenue and spending, prompting the organization to note that its analysis “does not represent a cost estimate...”.
The article doesn’t quote anyone on the other side.... There are... plenty of people at think tanks who don’t consider the deficit a pressing issue... plenty of analysts you could quote who aren’t professional deficit scolds. But none of those people gets mentioned in the article.
The thing is, this kind of “reporting” has actually been normal on matters fiscal. The only surprise is that so little has changed.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?