Saturday, April 12, 2014

154.4 - Congressional Progressive Caucus proposes a budget, media ignores it

Congressional Progressive Caucus proposes a budget, media ignores it

A couple of weeks ago, Rep. Paul Rantn', who is what passes for an intellectual in the right wing, got my uncoveted Clown Award, and not for the first time.

Well, he's back, because he recently went through his annual charade of presenting an ideological wish list of attacks on the poor and public employees, tax cuts for the rich, and increases for the War Department under the guise of a proposed federal budget.

It has been roundly and justifiably trashed as economic nonsense - even, hardly a bastion of radical left-wing activism, called it a "fantasy" - as economic nonsense and in fact as a political document to rouse the rabid faithful rather than an actual budget.

But here's the thing: It has been discussed. Debated. Denounced and even in some quarters defended - but discussed. Widely and even intensely.

Okay, a couple of weeks earlier, on March 12, so there is no news-cycle conflict here, on March 12 the Congressional Progressive Caucus released what it called its Better Off Budget. First things first, this is an actual budget with actual numbers and actual economic analysis, not a wish list of "don't worry, the Magic of the Market (pbui) will take care of everything" hand-waving of the sort that Ryan's "budget" spews out over everything.

This budget shows, again with actual numbers, that we can create jobs, improve infrastructure, protect and aid the poor, protect the environment, improve education, improve housing, expand healthcare, and a whole lot more without having to raise taxes on anyone making less than $1 million a year - all while reducing the deficit significantly over the next 10 years.

Sounds like something that should merit a headline or two. So how much press coverage did this get?

[long silence]

About that much.

Oh, there was some coverage in the expected places, such as The Nation, the New Republic,, and In These Times and some analysis from outfits such as Citizens for Tax Justice, the National Priorities Project, and the Economic Policy Institute - but after a fairly intensive search1, the closest I could come to any what could be considered mainstream coverage were opinion pieces in the LA Times, US News and World Report, two in the Huffington Post, and one in The Guardian, which is a newspaper in the United Kingdom, plus in terms of news coverage a couple of minutes for a single report on MSNBC the day before the budget was released and a report on al-Jazeera, which does cover a wide range of news and which most Americans can't see unless they know to search it out online.

Other than that, five opinion pieces and two news reports, there was pretty much complete silence. As far as I can determine, the New York Times never mentioned it2. Not a word. The Washington Post never mentioned it3. Not a word. The Wall Street Journal never mentioned it4. Not a word. The network news never mentioned it. Fox News never mentioned it5. CNN never mentioned it6. In fact, as far as I can tell, all of cable news - other than that those single mentions on MSNBC7 and al-Jazeera8 - never mentioned it. Not once. Not a word.

So while I'm sure you're all aware that Paul Rantin' released his "budget," I would not be the least surprised to hear that until now you didn't even know the Progressive Caucus budget even existed.

The fact is, the media - the supposedly oh-so "liberal" media - is trapped, has trapped itself, in way of thinking that what comes from the right by definition deserves serious attention even if it's to knock it down while what comes from the left by definition deserves to be ignored.

The result is the right wing repeatedly is allowed to set the terms of debate such that that Barack Obama is taken to represent to extreme left edge of permissible debate and that's only because he's president so the media can't ignore him, and the answer to every policy question is for the left (not the right, just the left) to "move to the center," the center being defined as midway between the left and the right. So if the left does "move to the center," that center will still be defined as midway between left and right, so the left get demands to "move to the center," which means moving to the right, after which the "center" will still be to their right, and so on and so on.

And one of the reasons they get away with this is that we let them. We, us, the American left, the real left, we let them. And I don't only mean that we let the media get away with it - although part of the reason the media behaves the way it does is that a good long time ago the right wing learned to work the refs, to screech and scream about anything and everything they didn't like until the media just goes along to avoid the hassle - but I don't only mean the media, I mean "our" (and I use that word very cautiously here) political leaders.

Or should I say leader. No matter how many promises he has broken, no matter how many times he has disappointed or even angered his supporters, no matter how much he increases spying, no matter how many drone strikes he authorizes, no matter how many new military actions he authorizes in Africa, no matter how many undocumented workers he deports - more than any previous president - no matter how many whistleblowers he prosecutes - more than all previous presidents combined - no matter how many times he pushes a corporate agenda or coddles corporate crooks, no matter how many times he says he wants to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of some mythical "grand bargain," no matter how many fill in your own blank, no matter what he does or doesn't do, still there are people going around with bumper stickers and buttons saying some version of "Don't worry, Mr. Prez, I got your back."

Hey, for all of you who have forgotten: We're not supposed to have his back, he's supposed to have ours. And the fact is, in all too many ways, he doesn't.

It's not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing about particular policies. It's not a matter of arguing over whether some program goes a little too far or not quite far enough. It a matter of the fact that there is a basic, an essential, divide in this country, one notably expressed in digest form if you will by the Occupy movement: the 1% versus the 99%. It's not a matter of isolated issues. It's a matter of being aware of that divide and of knowing which side of that divide you are on and of being willing to stand there, with all that entails - something too many of us, ducking and covering from the slings and arrows of the right wing, are unwilling to do.


1. searching via,, and
2. a search at on "Better Off Budget" returned no relevant results
3. a search at on "Better Off Budget" for the period 3/11-3/14 returned no relevant results
4. a search at on "Better Off Budget" for the period 3/11-3/14 returned no relevant results
5. a search at on "budget" for the period 3/12-14 returned no relevant results
6. a search at on "Better Off Budget" returned no relevant results
7. a search at returned no additional relevant results
8. a search at returned no additional relevant results

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