July 23, 2011

Steyn Ridicules Press’s Insistence on Calling Budget Ideas ‘Plans’; Now It’s Ginned-up Fears of Stock-Market Plunge

MarkSteyn2011On Wednesday evening (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted the absurdity of Associated Press coverage characterizing the 5-page document with 3-1/2 whole pages of text issued by the “Gang of Six” as a “plan” — 12 times, plus in the item’s headline. Though I didn’t bring it up then, an obvious point to make about any of these items floating around Washington is that if the Congressional Budget Office can’t score it, it can’t be a plan. A month ago, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told a congressional committee, in response to a question about President Obama’s April proposal, that “we can’t score speeches.” By contrast, there’s no reason to believe it can’t score Cut, Cap & Balance, because it’s actual legislation passed by the House.

Last night at Investors Business Daily, Mark Steyn, the self-described “One-Man Global Content Provider,” made more generalized comments about the media coverage of the debt ceiling-tax-spending-amending discussions and its identification of anything stated in a semi-coherent sentence as a “plan” (press-related items in bold):

Obama … claimed to have a $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan. The court eunuchs of the press corps were impressed, and went off to file pieces hailing the president as “the grown-up in the room.” There is, in fact, no plan. No plan at all. No plan whatsoever, either for a deficit reduction of $4 trillion or $4.73. As is the way in Washington, merely announcing that he had a plan absolved him of the need to have one. So the president’s staff got out the extra-wide teleprompter and wrote a really large number on it, and simply by reading out the really large number the president was deemed to have produced a serious blueprint for trillions of dollars in savings. For his next trick, he’ll walk out on to the stage of Carnegie Hall, announce that he’s going to play Haydn’s Cello Concerto No 2, and, even though there’s no cello in sight, and Obama immediately climbs back in his golf cart to head for the links, music critics will hail it as one of the most moving performances they’ve ever heard.

The only “plan” Barack Obama has put on paper is his February budget. Were there trillions and trillions of savings in that? Er, no. It increased spending and doubled the federal debt.

How about Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader? Has he got a plan? No.

… It seems reasonable to conclude from the planlessness and budgetlessness of the Obama/Reid Democrats that their only plan is to carry on spending without limit. Otherwise, someone somewhere would surely have written something down on a piece of paper by now. But no, apparently the Department of Writing Down Plans is the only federal expense the president is willing to cut. … the ruling party of the Brokest Nation in History has no spending plan other than to plan to spend even more. …

The domestic media coverage of this story has been almost laughably fraudulent: To the court eunuchs, a failure to raise the debt ceiling by a couple of trillion would signal to the world that American government was embarrassingly dysfunctional. In reality, raising the debt ceiling by a couple of trillion without any spending cuts would confirm to the world that American government is terminally dysfunctional.

Moving on to the apparent next strategy, the AP’s David Espo today invoked fears of a stock market plunge — without identifying a single person in the financial community to back up his and the Democrats’ fear-mongering. He also appeared to put words in Boehner’s mouth (bolded) which the Speaker seems unlikely to have said:

Debt crisis: Deal sought to head off stock plunge

Precariously short of time, congressional leaders struggled in urgent, weekend-long talks to avert an unprecedented government default, desperate to show enough progress to head off a plunge in stock prices when Asian markets open ahead of the U.S. workweek.

President Barack Obama met Saturday with Republican and Democratic leaders – but only briefly- the day after House Speaker John Boehner abruptly broke off his own once-promising compromise talks with the White House.

… House Speaker John Boehner told rank-and-file Republicans in a conference call hoped to be able to announce a “viable framework for progress” by 4 p.m. EDT on Sunday, before the stock markets open in Japan and elsewhere in Asia, according to two participants. He met later Saturday for almost an hour with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Lawmakers fear a big drop in investor confidence in stocks and bonds could start in Asia and sweep toward Europe and the Americas, causing U.S. stock values to plunge on Monday.

Barring action by Aug. 2, the Treasury will run out of the money needed to pay all its bills, triggering a possible default that could seriously damage the domestic economy and send damaging waves across the globe. Obama has warned repeatedly of the possibility of a spike in interest rates that could affect Americans’ mortgages, credit cards and other forms of personal debt.

It doesn’t seem likely that Boehner would have made anything resembling the bolded reference in the excerpt above, which, while conveniently not in quotes, immediately follows a quoted item and precedes “according to participants.” Espo has made it look like Boehner referred to the world markets which open Monday before U.S. markets.

I say he didn’t, David, and if you won’t provide proof that he did, I’ll assume you’re engaging in a next iteration of the ongoing fraud Steyn described in his column. Given the press’s track record of the past week, where it not only called things “plans” which could barely be dignified as “thoughts” but also kept telling us that the two sides were near a deal when the Speaker says they never really were, why shouldn’t I?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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