And if I ignore my mortgage balance, my house is paid off
AP: Come on, Republicans, if you ignore entitlements government is already shrinking
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The Associated Press has become quite the piece of work lately. The worse the nation’s fiscal situation gets, the harder the AP tries to persuade everyone that the call to cut spending is coming from a bunch of ignorant rubes who really don’t know what’s what. Last week they told us that conservatives in Congress are doing the bidding of gubmint-hating hayseeds back home. Now they helpfully explain that, hey, government is already shrinking! Provided, of course, you ignore Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (not to mention the looming monstrosity of ObamaCare):
Republicans and other fiscal conservatives keep insisting on more federal austerity and a smaller government. Without much fanfare or acknowledgement, they’ve already gotten much of both.
Spending by federal, state and local governments on payrolls, equipment, buildings, teachers, emergency workers, defense programs and other core governmental functions has been shrinking steadily since the deep 2007-2009 recession and as the anemic recovery continues.
This recent shrinkage has largely been obscured by an increase in spending on benefit payments to individuals under “entitlement” programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans benefits. Retiring baby boomers are driving much of this increase.
The AP has really embraced its transformation from a just-the-facts news source to All Propaganda. Consider what they’ve done here. First, you take a completely false premise - that Republicans don’t know the biggest problem in federal spending is entitlements - and then you offer banal “analysis” that explains how stuff really is.
Of course entitlement spending is the biggest problem. In fact, entitlement spending is the very reason money gets crowded out of the budget for truly necessary functions the government should be performing. Does the AP think money spent on payrolls, equipment and all the rest represents real money, but entitlement spending does not?
Further down, the story embraces Keynesian economic theory as if it were uncontroversial fact, and blames this so-called “shrinkage” in government for the sluggish economy:
A larger-than-usual decline in federal spending, notably on defense programs, helped push the economy into negative territory in the final three months of 2012. Economic growth, meanwhile, has been inching along at a weak 1-2 percent — not enough to significantly further drive down the national unemployment rate, which now stands at 7.9 percent.
Although federal spending is projected to decline from 22.8 percent of the gross domestic product recorded last year to 21.5 percent by 2017, it still will exceed the 40-year-average of 21.0 percent, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Spending peaked at 25.2 percent of GDP in 2009.
Remember when Obama insisted “the private sector is fine” but that employment in government wasn’t keeping pace? The AP basically embraces that claim here as if it was the unquestioned truth. The private sector is adding jobs, we’re told, but government is shedding them. But if you read further, you’ll find that the AP disproves its own argument, apparently without realizing it is doing so. States are required to balance their budgets, so when the economy tanks, they have to shed employees. The private sector may be adding jobs, but not fast enough to keep up with the growth in the labor force, which is why unemployment continues to hover around 8 percent.
And this is all tied back to entitlement spending, which is causing federal debt to mount at alarming levels, and is only set to grow once ObamaCare kicks in fully next year. What’s more, the federal government is hiding the cost of all this by constantly engaging in short-term borrowing while the Federal Reserve keeps borrowing costs artificially low, although even the Fed now recognizes that can’t go on forever.
The AP does its best here to run interference for Democrats who don’t want to cut spending, and you can be sure that in the days ahead you will hear administration spokesmen and some of Congress’s finest citing this report in support of their now-popular talking point that we don’t have a spending problem. And sure, if you completely ignore the federal government’s single largest, growing-by-leaps-and-bounds expenditure, then government is shrinking. How much easier is it for completely irresponsible politicians to ignore what’s right in front of them when the mainstream media writes shameless propaganda like this to give them cover for it?