Newspapers Continue to Call Slowed-Down Spending Cuts

     In New Hampshire on February 8, President Bush gave a simple lesson journalists could use. He compared slowing spending growth to driving the speed limit, rather than cutting spending, which would be like putting your car in reverse. The media, however, chose to steer readers wrong with an insistence on calling spending increases cuts and amplifying liberal outrage for not spending enough money.

     Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are getting funding increases, not cuts, in the 2007 budget, as The Heritage Foundations Brian Riedl explained in a February 6 analysis of the federal Fiscal Year 2007 budget, but the February 9 editions of the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post told readers that social programs were on the chopping block.

     Entitlement spending is projected to nearly double over the next decade. Medicare is expanding by 9% annually, while Medicaid would expand by 8 percent and Social Security spending by 6 percent, explained Riedl. All three entitlement programs would still grow, with Medicare and Medicaid expanding at slightly slower rates than the average from the last five years, while Social Security would grow almost 18 percent faster.

     Despite those facts, the print media allowed liberal politicians to portray the spending slowdown as a reduction, while largely ignoring conservative voices. The Posts Peter Baker and the Timess James Gerstenzang turned to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) for comment, while USA Todays Paul Leavitt quoted liberal Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter calling spending plans scandalous. Only The Washington Post cited conservative critics who say not enough is being done to curb the growth of government spending. Staff writer Peter Baker quoted an editorial from the Manchester Union Leader, which called on the President to give us a budget that brings federal spending down to a sustainable level.

     The conservative New Hampshire broadsheet was hardly a lone voice of criticism about the bloated budget. The Times and USA Today could have cited any number of conservatives dissatisfied with the 2007 budget plan. President Bushs budget has received negative reviews from organizations such as the National Taxpayers Union, the Cato Institute, and the American Enterprise Institute.

     The Business & Media Institute has previously documented how the news media have misreported federal spending.