- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Woe is us

“All of the media have pounced on the Bush administration’s desire to ‘cut’ spending on a few programs, focusing on how some small spending adjustments will hurt the poor, but none more so than CBS on Monday night,” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mediaresearch.org.

“Lee Cowan devoted a full story to how ‘the proposed cuts hit the heartland like a mountain of unwanted news, from the soy bean fields of Iowa … to large cities like Minneapolis, where block grant programs help the homeless and the hungry.’ Cowan, who failed to cite a single proposed budget number, showcased complaints from food bank and health-care workers and, led into a sound bite from the unlabeled Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, by stressing how ‘critics charge the people these cuts hit the hardest tend to have the weakest political voice.’

“Not CBS nor any network story on Monday night pointed out how minimal the proposed cuts really are,” Mr. Baker said. “Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, observed on the group’s Web site: ‘The budget proposes to cut 150 programs, but the fine print shows that these cuts will only reduce 2006 spending by 0.8 percent.’” See: www.cato.org.

“The morning shows on Monday reflected how network journalists paint cuts as undesirable, referring to ‘severe cutbacks,’ ‘steep cuts’ and to how the budget will ‘slash spending.’”

The passion gap

“President Bush will succeed in his Social Security changes because he has skillfully drafted them in such a way that the only voters who are affected support his proposal — while the ones who oppose it won’t be affected by it,” New York Post columnist Dick Morris writes.

“Pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that support for private investment skews dramatically by age group. Those aged 18 to 29 back it by 65 percent to 22 percent. Thirtysomething voters support it by 63-28; those in their 40s, 59-30.

“But voters between the ages of 50 and 64 oppose the private-investment option by 49-41, and those over 65, by 63-27.

“So the only voters who oppose private investment are those whom the reforms won’t touch. Those for whom the changes are real, generally support them.” Mr. Morris said.

“So Bush has succeeded in anesthetizing the Social Security debate: His proposed changes will stir passion only in the breasts of ideologues of each stripe, but not in the voters most affected.

“Which means his program is likely to pass despite dire Democratic warnings.”

Party of the past

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