April 23, 2012

AP’s Evidence-Free Claim: Romney Will ‘Have To’ Cut Discretionary Spending More Than 20% Under His Spending Plan

In the campaign to ensure that anyone with a proposal to actually do something about the federal government’s out-of-control spending gets demonized, while incumbent Barack Obama and his party go scot-free for proposing nothing beyond the autopilot, budget-free situation of the past three years, Andrew Taylor at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, went after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s spending proposal in an early-morning item today.

There are so many problems with Taylor’s presentation that it would take a writeup longer than a college term paper to fully vet them all. But the report’s most risible aspect is its blithe and unsupported assertion that Romney’s plan would require “big cuts” in “nuts-and-bolts” federal programs.

Accompanied by a headline making it appear that military spending (where increases have been relatively modest for five years) will “trump” domestic programs (which, excuse, the pun, have exploded virtually across the board during that time), Taylor, just in time for morning news anchors to relay to their audiences, opened as follows:

Romney on spending: Guns trump butter

Reducing government deficits Mitt Romney’s way would mean less money for health care for the poor and disabled and big cuts to nuts-and-bolts functions such as food inspection, border security and education.

Later, Taylor got more specific without citing specifics, saying that Romney’s spending proposal would require “more than 20%” cuts in discretionary spending:

… DOMESTIC AGENCY BUDGETS: If Social Security is mostly off the table and current Medicare beneficiaries are protected, domestic Cabinet agency budgets would take a major hit in ways that could fundamentally alter government. The future growth of those discretionary programs funded through annual appropriations bills was already cut greatly in last year’s deal to raise the government’s borrowing limit.

At issue are these programs, just to name a few: health research; NASA; transportation; homeland security; education; food inspection; housing and heating subsidies for the poor; food aid for pregnant women; the FBI; grants to local governments; national parks; and veterans’ health care.

Romney promises to immediately cut them by 5 percent. But they would have to be cut more than 20 percent to meet his overall budget goals, assuming veterans’ health care is exempted.  It’s almost unthinkable that lawmakers would go along with cuts of such magnitude for air traffic control and food inspection or to agencies like NASA, the FBI, Border Patrol and the Centers for Disease Control.

“It’s just not sustainable,” said GOP lobbyist Jim Dyer, a former staff director for the House Appropriations Committee. “What do you want to do with the national parks? Which ones do you want to close? …The only way it adds up is if you go after the big, popular stuff, and nobody talks about that now.”

Even if it’s true that the debt-limit deal really reduced future growth in discretionary spending (which seems doubtful), it certainly didn’t do so “greatly” in the context of the trillion-dollar annual deficits incurred in each of the four fiscal years through 2012. Estimates of overall debt deal growth curve reductions over ten years issued at the time ranged from almost nothing to not a lot more than that — and discretionary spending was only a component of already small numbers.

Taylor cites no support for his 20% cut assertion (Dyer’s response doesn’t count, as he would only have been reacting to a question framed as “What do you think of the likelihood of 20%-plus cuts getting enacted?”), but states it as if it’s a fact.

Shame on AP and Taylor for acting as if they know that; they don’t. In disseminating this pretense far and wide to news consumers and the wire service’s subscribing outlets, they essentially served as an Obama administration mouthpiece instead of as a real journalist — which is why my characterization of the organization as the Administration’s Press could not be more accurate.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (042312)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Thank You, Chuck Colson

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From John Stonestreet at Breakpoint, posted the day before Colson’s death on Saturday:

Loss is difficult and even disorienting, but we can be certain of a few things. I’m John Stonestreet. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

Even as I record this, our friend and leader Chuck Colson is near death. After early hopeful news about his recovery from surgery, we now face the reality that short of a miracle, Chuck will soon enter the presence of the Lord. Please pray for Chuck and his family.

Quantifying his impact would be impossible, but you know I meet those who have been impacted by him all the time – they read his books, or they listen to BreakPoint, or maybe their children were loved by Angel Tree volunteers while they were incarcerated, or they found Jesus Christ after hearing his story of redemption.

My friend Greg launched an internationally recognized public policy think tank in New Zealand after reading the book How Now Shall We Live? that Chuck wrote with Nancy Pearcey.

And it’s fitting that this weekend’s “BreakPoint this Week” broadcast features Gabe Lyons, an innovative Christian thinker and collaborator. Like Greg, Gabe points How Now Shall We Live? as the book that changed his understanding of Christianity and led to the work of cultural restoration that he’s leading today. I’ll be talking with Gabe this weekend on “BreakPoint This Week.” I hope you can tune in or catch it at our website, BreakPoint.org.

I’ve been impacted by Chuck, too. For years I heard him on this daily broadcast BreakPoint, but I’ve gotten to know Chuck personally, and worked with him on projects like the Doing the Right Thing tour, the Manhattan Declaration, and I’ve co-hosted with him on “BreakPoint this Week.”

I first met Chuck just before speaking on worldview to a class of Centurions. Chuck launched the Centurions Program to train adults around the country in Biblical worldview, and I was honored just to have the invitation to be a part of the teaching faculty. I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect Chuck to stay in the room when I spoke! My knees were knocking so loudly, I was just hoping people could still hear my words.

These last two weeks, I’ve been honored to host BreakPoint along with Eric Metaxas, another person whose life was impacted by Chuck.

You know, Chuck spoke often recently about the next generation and what he hoped to see from those of us who follow his lead. In an age when so many young Christians find their passion in causes of social justice and are skeptical of Truth, it’s worth mentioning that Chuck was doing social justice before it was cool. He went from prisoner, to prison minister, to prison reformer.

And yet Chuck taught us that social justice, and any cultural work, must be undergirded by Truth, Truth with a capital T – something he learned from the late Francis Schaeffer. For Chuck, Biblical worldview is more than theoretical posturing, it’s embracing and living out Truth with courage. And that Truth sets us free.

Chuck knew that personally. …

Go here for the full column.