July 15, 2011 · 0 Comments
By Dean Baker
In an opinion piece that appeared as a front page news story, the NYT told readers that the debt ceiling battle is “a war over government.” The first sentence tells readers that:
“intense exchanges this week between the two parties have made it clear that this is not so much a negotiation over dollars and cents as a broader clash between the two parties over the size and role of government.”
This is 100 percent the interpretation of the reporter/editor. This is the sort of piece that newspapers ordinarily put on the editorial pages.
While it is certainly possible that the two sides have different views of government, that is hardly clear from the available evidence. By all accounts, it was President Obama who put cuts to Social Security on the table, not the Republicans. And the polls consistently show that the vast majority of Republicans, like the vast majority of Democrats, are opposed to cuts in both Social Security and Medicare. It is not clear that this is really a source of divide between the two parties even if their leadership may go in somewhat different directions.
The most obvious difference between the two parties, which the Republicans have stated repeatedly, is that they don’t want anyone, especially rich people, to pay higher taxes.In other words, the Republicans want rich people to have more money.
Given that this has been set as an explicit line in the sand by the Republicans, it is difficult to understand how the NYT can ignore their claim and instead tell readers that this is somehow a philosophical dispute about the size and role of government. It is especially hard to understand how it can do this in a “news” story.