Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wasted Space in the New York Times

by FuzzyOne

Today's New York Times has a gigantic cover story that centers on conversations with people in a small county in Minnesota. The article covers three inside pages of the paper of record, and actually contains some bits of interesting data. But the article repeatedly quotes the people of Chisago County saying thing like that they don't want government benefits, though they are taking them, and that they don't think anyone should pay higher taxes. My question is, who cares what the people of Chisago County think? What is important, and pretty well ignored in the article, is that a majority of Americans do think taxes should be increased for the wealthy. American in general, as opposed to those in Chisago County, want stimulus spending. So why is the Times wasting paper on this random county in Minnesota that does not seem particularly representative of anything? Why don't they report what people in the country want? Beats me.

This is part of the battle that Obama need to fight if he is going to succeed. The article does highlight one of the oddest aspects of this question: States that receive more money than they send to the federal government in taxes support the Republicans who want to cut their benefits and the taxes of those in other states that pay for them.  Obama needs to keep a focus on two things: how unfairly the burdens are currently apportioned in the United States and what people will lose if the Republicans are able to impose what they say they want. Of course, as I've said before, Obama put himself in a difficult box when he shifted his focus from stimulus and recovery to the deficit. Now he is proposing a budget that does some good things, though probably not enough, but increases the budget. I think it is the right thing, and if anything more deficit spending to stimulate the economy is needed in the short term, but can he sell it to the public after telling them deficits are the big problem we face?

Mitt Romney as an opponent in the election is looking more and more like a gift in this regard. In addition to just not being popular with anyone he really opens up the conversation about the unfairness of the tax system in a big way (which may be why he is fading in recent polls versus Obama). Obama could start by spending a lot of time talking about the absurd carried interest loophole.

Obama got off to a good start this week by finessing the contraception  issue in a way that, while not satisfying those who will always hate him and treat women like chattel, definitely seems to make him look like he has compromised, when he really has not realy given up anything. That is a trick the Republicans had used far more successfully than the Democrats but the coming payroll tax hike debate give the President another chance to look good and make the Republicans look bad, especially if they continue to insist that the tax cut be paid for (something they have never demanded for tax cuts for the rich) while refusing to allow a very popular tax on millionaires as the funding source. I wonder if the Times will cover the national polls on that or just ask the folks in Chisago County what they think.


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