Politics ain't beanbag, or journalism | Arkansas Blog

Monday, June 20, 2011

Politics ain't beanbag, or journalism

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 6:24 AM

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin loves to cite some of the non-partisan fact-checking operations about the Republicans' ruinous budget plan. No wonder. The fact-checkers seem to have political messaging confused with journalism. Political ads should be factual, but they are under no obligation to present all sides of an issue in their ads.

Good example is this piece touted by Griffin in an email this morning about Democratic calls about the House budget plan.

* The Democratic calls note, accurately, that the supposedly budget-slashing Republicans would raise federal spending by almost $2 trillion. Oh, but wait, the fact checkers said: The Obama budget increase is slightly larger. Not the point. The point is Republican messaging hypocrisy. They are big spenders, despite their claims to the contrary.

* The Democratic calls say the budget plan of Republicans will end Medicare, a contention disputed by fact-checkers. It will, of course, if words and actions have meaning. Medicare is a single-payer, universal government health insurance plan for people 65 and older. Republicans would turn it into a voucher program in which you'd pay more to a private insurance company for what is certain to be less coverage. The system would retain the name Medicare, but little resemblance to what's now on offer. What if your mama said breakfast henceforth would be only a glass of water and a dollar. Eggs and bacon would be available for two dollars. The meal would still be known as breakfast. I'd say mama had ended breakfast, though the fact checkers would undoubtedly say this is misleading since we'd still have a meal called breakfast, whether you could afford it or not.

* It's false, the fact-checkers say, for Democrats to claim Medicare costs will be reduced to pay for tax subsidies for big oil. That precise option is not offered in the legislation. Of course it is not. But Republicans beat a Democratic effort to remove the tax subsidies. The cost-cutting is done to continue Republican tax giveaways. Republicans prefer subsidies to oil companies to maintaining the existing Medicare system. What could be clearer than that?

Bottom line: Republicans are big spenders, too; they want to take away the Medicare guarantee millions have enjoyed; they prefer corporate tax subsidies to spending on safety net programs. It is misleading to argue otherwise.

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