Neither the NYT nor Washington Post Has Heard About Unemployment

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Beat the Press / CEPR

Neither the NYT nor Washington Post Has Heard About Unemployment

It's apparently hard to find out about the state of the U.S. economy in the nation's capital. That is the only way to explain the fact that in their articles on the budget passed by the Senate last night neither the NYT or Washington Post said one word about how the budget would affect the economy over the next decade.

This one should have been pretty basic and simple. As tens of millions of graduates of intro economics classes know, GDP is equal to the sum of consumption, investment, government spending and net exports. Currently, annual GDP is close to $1 trillion below its potential according to the estimate from the Congressional Budget Office because private sector demand plunged following the collapse of the housing bubble.

While conservative politicians run around yelling mumbo jumbo about making the job creators happy, there is no plausible story that private sector demand will rise enough to fill this gap any time soon. That means that government has to fill the gap by running large deficits. Its failure to do so has meant that the economy is down close almost 9 million jobs from its trend growth path and millions of people are needlessly suffering from unemployment.

However, neither the NYT or Post could be bothered mentioning the millions who are suffering unemployment as the direct result of government policy. Instead the NYT told us in the first sentence that the budget will:

"trim spending gingerly and leave the government still deeply in the debt a decade from now."

Yes, that is important for readers to know -- by the NYT's criteria the country will be "deeply in debt" a decade from now. What ever happened to the distinction between news and opinion pages?

Dean Baker

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer and the more recently published Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of The Bubble Economy. He also has a blog, "Beat the Press," where he discusses the media's coverage of economic issues.

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