Have you noticed the unstated assumption shaping much of the reporting and commentary on the Gang of Six (Go6) plan and the Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011 (CCB) just passed by the House?
One of the Gang of Six – Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, conceded yesterday that the Go6 plan consists only of “concepts” that he and his five cohorts on the group agreed to after six months of behind-closed-doors dickering. The Go6 plan hasn't been put into legislative language, therefore, Durbin admitted, the proposal “is not ready for prime time.”
But that hasn't prevented President Obama, senators in both political parties, and members of the liberal mainstream media from praising the Go6 plan as “a very significant step” that offers the opportunity to enact budget reforms with “a bipartisan consensus.”
Contrast that highly positive portrayal of Go6 with the endlessly repeated prediction by the same people that CCB is “doomed” and “futile” because it will “never pass the Senate” and Obama has promised to veto it.
There are two things to note here: First, at least 67 members of the Senate have at one time or another in recent years promised to vote for either a balanced budget or a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. That count, according to Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, includes 22 Democrats.
So, to get to the second point, why is it a foregone conclusion that CCB can't pass the Senate? By uncritically reporting that claim, journalists are in effect giving senators a pass on the balanced budget issue specifically and more generally of whether their previous declarations are worth anything at all.
This is an illustration of why so many journalists covering the White House, Congress and national politics so frequently end up functioning like “Homers.” No, I'm not referring to the ancient author, but rather the derisive term for sports reporters who never write anything critical of the home professional teams.
Whether they intend to or not, too many journalists are little more than Homers for the Big Government team. And then they wonder why their credibility is in tatters.