Political Animal


November 09, 2011 10:00 AM About that GOP debt ‘deal’…

By Steve Benen

As the so-called super-committee inches closer to its deadline, talks on Capitol Hill continue to go nowhere fast. To understand the state of the negotiations, I’d recommend ignoring this Washington Post report.

The headline on reporter Lori Montgomery’s piece tells the reader: “Republicans offer tax deal to break debt impasse; Democrats dismiss it.” Here’s the lede:

Congressional Republicans have for the first time retreated from their hard-line stance against new taxes, offering to raise federal tax collections by nearly $300 billion over the next decade as part of a plan to tame the national debt.

The headline and lede make it seem as if GOP lawmakers are showing newfound flexibility and are finally willing to consider a more balanced approach to debt reduction, only to be rejected by Democrats.

That’s not even close to what happened.

Way down in the same article, in the 16th paragraph, the piece gets around to mentioning that Republican want to trade nearly $300 billion in new revenue for “permanently extending the George W. Bush-era tax cuts past their 2012 expiration date, a move that would increase deficits by about $4 trillion over the next decade.”

That’s the kind of detail that more or less debunks the article’s headline and lede. Think about it: as part of a debt-reduction deal, Republicans want to increase tax revenue by less than $300 billion and cut tax revenue by roughly $4 trillion.

In what universe does it make sense to tell news consumers that Republicans have offered a “tax deal to break the debt impasse”? How does this GOP offer represent a “retreat from their hard-line stance” on taxes?

Republican lawmakers are playing foolish games, hoping to give the appearance of flexibility. When the super-committee process breaks down, the GOP wants to be in a position to say, “Well, we tried to negotiate and make credible offers, but Democrats wouldn’t cooperate.”

And while some in the media are apparently prepared to go along with this, the facts speak for themselves: Democrats made an overly-generous offer to Republicans, in which Dems gave away far too much, but which was quickly rejected without cause anyway. Republicans’ debt-reduction offer, meanwhile, features $4 trillion in tax cuts that make the problem worse, not better.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Rich on November 09, 2011 10:06 AM:

    Montgomery is obviously on the speed dials of GOP Hill staffers. She does collect other info, but here articles always start with a GOP-approved lede. I don't know who composes the headline, but it's usually congruent with the lede. A paper where the ombud wasn't a management tool or a suck-up to the Koch brothers might notice this, but not at the Post.

  • FlipYrWhig on November 09, 2011 10:07 AM:

    I feel like Lori Montgomery has been writing a lot of egregious pieces lately... Didn't she do that horrible Social Security story too? What's the deal with her? Is she the new John Solomon?

  • Kathryn on November 09, 2011 10:11 AM:

    Lori Montgomery needs to be called out for her writing, she was author of Social Security hit piece and co author of a misleading article on who was to blame for holding up FEMA funding, also on front page, blaming, you quessed it, the Democrats. Who is she, her writing is consistently biased.

  • c u n d gulag on November 09, 2011 10:12 AM:

    'In what universe does it make sense to tell news consumers that Republicans have offered a “tax deal to break the debt impasse”?'

    In a world where only a handful of corporations control the 4th Estate (MSM), and a lazy, stupid, ignorant, and brainwashed POS like Lori Montgomery is given a job and paid fairly well to keep propelling the propaganda!

    THAT Universe.

  • T2 on November 09, 2011 10:14 AM:

    the way it works is this: a reporter writes up a piece. But it is an Editor that determines if it goes in and if it goes in as written. Headlines are also subject to Editorial scrutiny.
    So the real question here is why would the Washington Post present an article/headline that is so misleading? That's a question for their Editorial Staff, not some water-carrier for the Right Wing.

  • catclub on November 09, 2011 10:15 AM:

    The Conventional Wisdom is that the Bush tax cuts will NEVER be dropped.
    Thus, all tax reporting assumes that level of revenue as a baseline. Until the CW changes it will keep going this way. Given that Obama is already planning on keeping the Bush tax cuts for all those under $250k, all that remains is 1% of the population, -- 1% of the cuts. The only way they will be repealed is if Obama vetoes an extension bill.

    I have no idea which way it will go.

  • sjw on November 09, 2011 10:16 AM:

    WaMo used to be a fine newspaper. Used to be. And I used to read it regularly. Now I never do.

  • Peter C on November 09, 2011 10:18 AM:

    The media is owned by the 1% and exists to serve their narrative. It is not our friend.

  • stormskies on November 09, 2011 10:21 AM:

    We need to remember that the esteemed Seymour Hersh said some time ago that in order for our media to be honest and objective 95% of all the 'editors' would have to be fired and replaced ....... kinda says it all actually....

  • Fleas correct the era on November 09, 2011 10:32 AM:

    In what universe does it make sense to tell news consumers that Republicans have offered a "tax deal to break the debt impasse"?

    In the Post's universe, where lying to your readership is not only okay, it's the stuff that raises and promotions are made of.

    At The Post, They Do It This Way Because They Want To Do It This Way.

    Nobody forced them. It's a choice. This is how they like it.

  • Liberal Media! on November 09, 2011 10:50 AM:

    The Rs know how to play the game. The Ds are incapable of learning.

  • TCinLA on November 09, 2011 11:57 AM:

    Further proof that if the Editors and Reporters on the Washington Pest (with two notable exceptions) had been around 40 years ago, Tricky Dick would be President for Eternity.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on November 09, 2011 12:11 PM:

    Montgomery's a fluffer for GOP economic policy porn. That heifer is a real irritation and indicative of just what's wrong with the media and why Americans are so ignorant of what's going on in their country.

  • Texas Aggie on November 09, 2011 12:21 PM:

    Steve, It's the WaPo. What did you expect? This is the paper where the present owner tried to sell legislators "access" to her reporters. This is the paper that went over to the Dark Side when Katherine Graham died.

  • Rich on November 09, 2011 12:29 PM:

    Montgomery seems particularly egregious and has authored similar kinds of pieces on health care reform, entitlements, etc. Paul Kane is sometimes marginally better. Perry Bacon, Jr is equally as bad but seems to get fewer major pieces. Montgomery and Bacon are junior people who obviously don't have much depth of knowledge and probably lack a breadth in terms of sources, so its easy for them to be speed dial stenos.