Bush Fiction - September 30, 2003

Times Watch for September 30, 2003

Bush Fiction

In his Sunday Arts & Leisure column, associate editor Frank Rich bemoans the conflation of news and entertainment, homing in on K Street, the new HBO prime-time series on political life in the nations capital. In a long aside, Rich goes after (naturally) the fictions of the Bush administration. Rich writes that the Sunday talk show Meet the Press may have offered more fiction per minute than any news show in memory. When interviewed by Tim Russert, Vice President Cheney asserted that Iraq was the heart of the base for the 9/11 terrorists and went on from there with a series of half-truths and outright deceptions about almost every topic broached, including his supposed lack of current financial interest in Halliburton..As low as the administration's credibility may be, it is still trusted more than the media trying to correct the fictions the White House plants in the national consciousness.

For the rest of Frank Richs piece on White House fictions, click here.

Firestones Tiresome Litany on Iraq Rebuilding

David Firestones G.O.P. Senators Say Money for Iraq Must Be Grant, Not Loan includes this slanted take-out line: Is that $87 billion an urgent need or an unseemly rush job?

Firestones Tuesday story repeats his tiresome litany that Bush aims to rebuild Iraq while ignoring U.S. infrastructure (as if Manhattan was in the same primitive state as Mosul): Many Republicans and Democrats in both houses are uncomfortable with the idea of giving Iraq the $20.3 billion in taxpayer money for its public works projects, at a time when similar spending at home is being squeezed by a record-setting deficit.

For the rest of David Firestones story on the $87 billion Iraq bill, click here.

Missing the Minimum Wage

A Money & Business analysis by Louis Uchitelle on Sunday concerns local government attempts to raise the minimum wage. Uchitelle clearly misses minimum wage hikes: Remember the minimum wage? It used to go up regularly, but that stopped happening 20 years ago. We are now in the seventh year of the latest drought, and increasingly the states and lately a few cities are constructing their own ad hoc network of minimum wages.

The only criticism of a minimum-wage hike Uchitelle cites is from people who are afraid the hike wont do enough: No one opposed to an increase argues that $5.15 an hour is adequate to keep body and soul together. It is not. The argument instead is that employers will not pay unskilled workers any more than the minimum. The problem with that argument is that employers are increasingly doing so. The evidence is in the statistics.

He concludes: The point of a government-mandated minimum wage is to ensure that no one is impoverished on the job. Employers are recognizing the absurdity of paying only $5.15 an hour, and in the absence of congressional action, cities are joining states in trying to fix the problem. But if employers truly recognize the absurdity, whats stopping them from paying their workers more than the minimum? Thered be no reason to get the government more involved.

For the rest of Uchitelles story on the minimum wage drives, click here.

Bushs Tax Cuts: Budget-Busting Failures

Sundays story by David Rosenbaum, Bush Wants to Create More Jobs, but How? declares Bushs tax cuts budget-busting failures: Three straight years of tax cuts, the president's tonic for whatever ails the economy, have not improved the jobs picture but have led to the largest budget deficit in history. Rosenbaum makes no mention of the Bush administrations profligate spending habits-at the Times, tax cuts are always Public Enemy No. 1.

At the end, Rosenbaum quotes William C. Dudley of the brokerage firm Goldman Sachs to hammer home the message of Keynesian economics: The tax cuts Mr. Bush worked so hard for might have led to more jobs more quickly if they had been aimed more at low- and moderate-income households, Mr. Dudley said, because those people are the most likely to spend their tax savings. But, Mr. Dudley added, that ship has sailed.

For more of Rosenbaums critique of Bushs economic plans, click here.

Palestinian Fears of Suffocating Security

More Middle East moral equivalency at the Times. A sentence from Greg Myres Monday piece from Jerusalems Old City equates Jewish fears of suicide bombers to Palestinian fears of Israeli soldiers trying to stop those suicide bombers: Only a few years ago, all faiths could walk the streets of this ancient city [Jerusalem] and visit some of the world's most important religious shrines without fear of a suicide bombing or a suffocating security presence.