Accuracy in Media

There was a pattern to the Washington Post’s story “12 of the most important things in Congress’s massive spending deal”: It pointed out flaws in proposals that favored Trump and Republicans, but hailed those that favored Democrats as needed and barely adequate.

“Military spending jumps 10 percent,” the Post said. “The deficit hawks got everything they wanted in this deal,” it quoted a budget expert from the liberal Center for Strategic and International Studies. “’This certainly gives the Defense Department all of the funding it could possibly expect.’”

“The largesse also removes any pressure for the military to embrace change. For example, the Pentagon said it has 22 percent excess base capacity that it would like to close. The extra money also removes pressure to cut weapons systems that some say are better suited to the last war, such as the A-10 attack jet or the U2 high-altitude surveillance plane.”

The tone was entirely different in the section called, “A ‘historic’ 10 percent increase in domestic spending.”

“The deal includes more money for areas including child care, college affordability and infrastructure,” the Post wrote. “There is also additional money going to fund the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration, so there will be more staffers to help Americans who need help with the paperwork.”

There is no discussion of the need to get more modern with these approaches … no talk of simplifying taxes and Social Security forms … only of hiring more people to help Americans fill them out.

Under the heading “Federal health programs get much-needed funding,” the Post makes sure we know this was no rout of the Democrats, unlike the previous shutdown and Nancy Pelosi’s 8-hour ultimately futile immigration speech.

“Meeting a key Democratic priority,” it starts off, as if to drive the point home, “the agreement funnels billions of dollars for several key health-care priorities – funding community health centers for two years, extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program for an additional four years, and staving off several cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that would have been triggered had the caps not been lifted.”

Saved, by the Democrats, from evil Republicans who would have denied children health care.

Under “Help for Puerto Rico,” the Post pointed out the nearly $90 billion in disaster relief for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida and Texas – all of which were hit by hurricanes last summer – was double what President Trump requested but far less than what officials in Puerto Rico requested.

“’I hope this is just the beginning of trying to comply with the governor’s request,’” it quoted a member of the Puerto Rico state senate as saying.

Then came “More tax cuts for 2017,” another victory for the right. “It’s a massive retroactive tax break,” the Post explains. “Even though people spent all of 2017 thinking those tax breaks were done and making their plans based on that, they now get surprise tax relief.”

“’This is not an ideal way of making federal policy,’” the Post quotes an analyst from the Tax Foundation.

Under “Extra money to fight the opioid epidemic,” the Post says “The deal would funnel $6 billion over two years to fight the opioid crisis with new grants, prevention programs and “law enforcement efforts” across the country. Why is “law enforcement efforts” in quotes? Does the Post suggest law enforcement has no role to play in the opioid crisis?

It calls one section “More money for GOP social priorities such as abstinence education,” as if there were no Democrat social priorities addressed in the legislation.

The Post admits the bill calls for selling off some of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to pay for the spending increases. But it is quick to point out “budget hawks who are concerned about the level of U.S. debt call ‘pay-fors’ such as this ‘gimmicks’ that are one-time revenue increases.”

It’s a typically messy spending measure – both sides, as Speaker Paul Ryan pointed out – got some good and had to accept some bad. And the Post made sure we knew what was bad about the conservative proposals.

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