Journalists Who Relayed GOP’s Deficit Moaning Owe Us Apologies | By Adam Johnson

Now that the Republicans’ brazen tax bill that the CBO predicts will add $1.4 trillion to the deficit has passed, yet again exposing “deficit concerns” by congressional Republicans as an empty marketing ploy, will those in the media who pushed the Deficit Doom narrative during the early Obama years admit they were wrong?

Suddenly deficits—something Every Serious Person cared about—are a total nonissue. The Beltway orthodoxy for decades—especially in the years following the 2008 economic crash—that deficits would crush our economy and render the United States insolvent is mysteriously absent from the Republicans’ plan to increase the deficit by equivalent of the GDP of Russia.  (To say nothing of September’s budget-busting Defense bill—, 9/21/17.)

During the early Obama years, nominally straight reporting frequently trafficked in deeply ideological assumptions about deficits and debt; echoing “deficit hawk” Paul Ryan and the “populist” Tea Party movement, they painted an image of apocalyptic doom:

  • “One urgent concern for lawmakers in both parties is the country’s bleak fiscal outlook, stemming from heavy government spending and ballooning retirement costs.” (Washington Post, 1/5/11)
  • “Gold-plated retirement and healthcare packages” (60 Minutes, 12/19/10)
  • “Through a combination of hard work, good timing and possibly suicidal guts, the Wisconsin Republican managed to harness his party to a dramatic plan for dealing with America’s rapidly rising public debt.” (Time, 12/14/11)
  • “Ryan has proposed major cuts to spending and entitlement programs in an effort to curb the spiraling national debt.” (Washington Post, 8/12/12)
  • “If you want to send a message you’re serious about the budget, you could do that with Paul Ryan.” (Meet the Press, 4/22/11)

Carrying water for right-wing axioms about the ticking time-bomb nature of deficits and debts, ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper (now at CNN) aired cartoonish…

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