When No News Is Bad News
President Barack Obama
President Obama’s approval ratings are way down, significantly less than 50 percent in the polls. The reason, experts say, is mainly jobs and the economy. So what have jobs and the economy been doing lately? Rising. Go figure.
Just give me the facts
The disconnect may have something to do with where people get their news. Television is their chief news source, and Fox News (I use the term “News” loosely) has more viewers than any of them. Right-wing radio talk shows far exceed audience numbers over liberal shows. Print media make only a small dent in the total news sources people turn to for current events and analysis. The Republican Party vociferously and continually assails Obama, and very few people receive the straightforward accounts that allow them to know if the attacks are justified.
Economist Paul Krugman
For example, how many people read the New York Times column a few days ago by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, in which he discussed a poll of leading economists? Very few. The poll is one of a number that the Initiative on Global Markets has been conducting on this panel of economists. The results, he wrote, show “there is much less professional controversy about an issue than the news media might have led you to expect.”
Top economists endorse stimulus
In the latest of the Initiative’s polls, the question was whether Obama’s stimulus program (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) reduced unemployment. By a vote of 36-1, the economists said it did. Even the follow-up question on whether the stimulus was worth it generated a 25-2 vote.
The New York Times
The New York Times reported on the poll, and probably some other news media did likewise. But if the business-oriented Wall Street Journal, for which a story on this event was a perfect fit, carried anything, it must have been buried because I could find nothing by Googling. My local newspaper in metropolitan Florida’s Palm Beach County said nothing. How are people supposed to know what’s going on if the media they rely on don’t report important events such as this? How are they to know that spending spurs the economy and is good for the American people, when almost everything they hear is the opposite?
Krugman went on to say that policy makers across the Western world have ignored the consensus on such issues, with European leaders implementing austerity measures that turned out to be disastrous.
Voting against their interests
Joe the Plumber
Voters who don’t hear or hearken to the views of most experts on various issues end up extolling such dolts as Joe the Plumber, who complained about business taxes. His noise, made during Obama’s 2008 election campaign, got more attention from a lot of voters than did Obama’s explanation that Joe’s business would do better if more people could afford to hire him, and the candidate wanted to reduce their taxes and raise those of people and interests that were well-off. Republican politicians have made it abundantly clear that they favor the rich over the poor and middle class, but they win elections because people vote against their own interests. And they do that for two reasons: ideology and ignorance of the issues.
Economist/business professor Peter Morici is granted considerable credibility for his conservative views, including his opinion that taxes on corporations in the United States are too high. In a newspaper column Aug. 6, he wrote that the combined U.S. and foreign taxes on corporations averaged 30 percent, compared to 23 percent on foreign competitors. But he glossed over the evidence that many corporations pay little or no taxes because of loopholes, and Republicans resist closing them, which would reduce the taxes on those who pay higher amounts. Morici complained that U.S. corporations must pay taxes on their foreign, as well as U.S., income. He noted that more corporations are merging with foreign competitors to reduce the taxes they pay the U.S. government (tax inversion), although many of them retain their U.S. headquarters. Instead of lowering their taxes, a better solution would be to enact a law prohibiting such moves, President Obama said in labeling the corporate actions “unpatriotic.” But the polarized Congress can’t agree on such a law. The Treasury Department is reviewing administrative actions to partially fix the problem without violating constitutional authority.
Economist Peter Morici
Morici wrote that Obama was unwilling to reduce corporate taxes, but that is untrue: In calling for corporate tax reform, the president has said he would lower the corporate tax rate as well as close loopholes. As for Morici’s observation that private citizens are ending their U.S. citizenship to gain tax advantages – who needs ’em? It just means fewer people voting for Republicans who favor the rich.
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