Our Dysfunctional Press Brought Us Marco Rubio

Marco RubioOn Tuesday at Vox, Ezra Klein wrote, Why Marco Rubio Is Insisting That His Massive Tax Cuts Will Pay for Themselves, Explained. Of course, you don’t need to read the article to know the answer. Anyone around here knows the claim: his tax cuts will unleash the economy and cause such an increase in tax revenues, that the tax cuts will pay for themselves. This is literally the idea of every major Republican politician since at least late 1980. This is especially funny considering that Rubio pushes this image of himself as the hip-hop loving young guy with the new ideas.

What’s really bothersome is that Rubio now has one of these fake think tanks that spit out “studies” that prove that conservative policy would be just awesome. In this case, it is the Tax Foundation, which Klein stated charitably, “It produces research, churns out charts and tables, and scores tax plans, but it’s motivated by an anti-tax agenda.” Not that it is any worse than the Cato Institute, but let’s be clear: it is an organization that will only ever produce ideologically appropriate studies. In other words, it isn’t in the truth business; it is in the dogma justification business.

Ezra KleinSo now Rubio can go on television and not worry. Anytime someone questions him about his ludicrous tax plan, he can say, “The Tax Foundation has scored my budget and finds that it will create surpluses. Also: ponies for all good boys and girls!” The Tax Foundation even describes itself as “nonpartisan.” That, of course, means nothing at all, other than that they don’t specifically align themselves with the Republican Party. Of the three people on their board of directors that I can find out information about, all are Republicans. Conservative hack Glenn Hubbard used to be on its board. It’s a conservative group with a very big ax to grind.

This wouldn’t be a problem if we have an actual free and independent press that took its job seriously. But instead, when we get a discussion of it at all, it will be of the typical form, “The Tax Policy Center says Rubio’s plan will create a huge budget deficit — just like all the previous similar plans have; but the Tax Foundation says it will create surpluses and ponies; who can say which is right?!” And it is this kind of reporting that allows Republicans to continue to claim that their tax cuts pay for themselves after decades of false promises to do so.

You have to give the Republican Party credit. They were the first to see that we live in a postmodern world. They saw that you could just lie and the press would frame at opinion. Global Warming isn’t a matter of science, but rather a matter of opinion. Is Planned Parenthood extracting viable fetuses from mothers and then extracting their brains while they are alive? It’s a matter of opinion! I’ve long thought that we get the government we deserve. But I’m beginning to think that’s wrong. We get a truly dysfunctional government because our news outlets have decided that their job is to entertain rather than inform. Marco Rubio is the creation of our media system.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

19 thoughts on “Our Dysfunctional Press Brought Us Marco Rubio

  1. I’m of the opinion that the problem with the dysfunctional media is largely a side effect of the relaxed regulation of monopolies. Which lead to media consolidation which gave control to a handful of plutocrats. Rupert Murdoch alone has a major share of the new and entertainment industries.

    The redefinition of monopolies is also responsible for a lot of job loses due to consolidation in other industries. And, again, it puts control of everything into the hands of a few.

    • Which removes the incentives to do a good job. There is a reason that cell phone service for things like T-Mobile changed for the better after the merger was denied. What does not make sense is why the DoJ keeps signing off on these mergers that are clearly violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and its progeny.

      • I think Democrats allow these mergers because companies come up with bogus numbers “proving” how the merger will help consumers. And sometimes because bigger businesses can do certain things more cheaply, there is some price reduction. But it never seems to last long.

        Good point about T-Mobile (and good point Rick about media conglomerates.) Which brings up another issue; how so many companies are essentially colluding. We should be having price wars all the time between phone companies, Internet providers, and the like. But you rarely see them. Companies basically all end up charging the most the market will bear, which is going to be about the same for each of them. And it’s impossible with things like Internet or cellphone towers to start a new company undercutting the behemoths.

        In my fantasy world all these things would be publicly-run anyhoo. In reality this is hard to make happen politically and you can run into problems. Minneapolis has a public internet option, and nobody’s thrilled with it. Chattanooga has has a terrific public Internet. The difference? Minneapolis let private companies bid for the contract, so naturally the company will try to get away with spending as little as possible on infrastructure and service. In Chattanooga, the city installed the system itself. And did such a good job it’s been attracting business investment because of it!

        PBS was supposed to be something like that for television. And in some ways (Masterpiece, Frontline) it is. The news show really doesn’t provide anything more than the other news networks. It’s just not as loud. Instead of dingbats screaming at each other, blowhards like Brooks and Shields politely ignore each other. It’s better than screaming but not more substantive.

        • It takes a great deal of evidence to show that there is collusion though so that is why it rarely changes.

          But with the rise of the internet my generation, and the one following, the five people who pay attention to the news rarely watch it or read it off of the same sites that old people do. I think I have seen the news once in the past two years because I was unable to change the channel at my friend’s.

          • Sure, I get that. And some companies — insurance, for example — are actually legally allowed to collude, in theory because insurance is all about data collection over time, and requiring older companies to share data with start-ups encourages competition. In practice, maybe this works for some areas of insurance. It sure hasn’t for health insurance.

            My personal belief is that capitalism is just fine at setting prices and allocating resources for non-essential things. Say, band saws. Not everyone needs a band saw, so it would be inefficient for the government to take over band saw manufacturing. Better for band saw companies to duke it out among themselves.

            Anything essential, the profit motive really screws up. News media, health insurance, utilities. We saw this back in the day when robber barons did a fine job building railroads, then a rotten job charging small farmers more to ship food than large farmers who paid off the railway companies. Government can certainly screw things up, too. But over history, it’s been much more cost-effective at providing essential services than corporations.

    • This is certainly a big deal. At least as big, however, is our social norms about news. Since 60 Minutes began to turn a profit in the 1970s, news has just been seen as another way to make money. The FCC has the authority to change this, but they don’t — regardless of which party is in power.

      • I believe that has to do with how the politics played out after the massive losses of liberals in the 1980 Senate elections combined with the Reagan landslides of the same year and 1984. Since then, the FCC has not had appointees willing to really stand up to business because they won’t get confirmed by the Senate even when in the charge of Democrats as the requisite lopsided amounts to let the liberals get anything done have not been there except briefly from July 7, 2009 to January 3, 2011.

        In fact most of the problems can be traced to the problems Dems have with getting their nominations through the Senate. Or the fact that Republicans nominate people who obey the corporate masters of the world.

        • Good information! Yeah, I’m not even sure what the FCC does, besides make sure you can’t say naughty words on certain channels in certain timeslots.

          The whole nomination thing is another reason filibuster Senate rules have hurt Dems way more than Repubs. If you look at say, Attorney General, Dems end up with center-right types who rarely even stare nastily at corrupt companies. And Repubs give us out-and-out loons like Ashcroft/Gonzales.

          • It pisses off the internet companies lately.
            https://www.fcc.gov/openinternet

            One of my favorite Youtubers was complaining about this on his Facebook page before he set it to private and I tore him a new one over it. He repeated the Republican talking points and I completely trashed him over it with evidence. He soon closed down his Facebook page. *snickers*

            • Yeah, just because someone makes terrific YouTube videos doesn’t mean they aren’t cray-cray in other ways . . .

              I’m more of a cookie burner than a fighter online, but I get the appeal of shooting down a dipshit argument. What’s most fun for me is when people with violently opposed viewpoints can learn from each other . . . not always possible with borderline loonies. Fun when it happens, though.

        • This also goes along with the cultural change that came in the late 1970s among elites — the whole “greed is good” idea. It was no longer embarrassing to be selfish, altruism doesn’t exist, all of that. So the whole of humanity could be reduced economic exchange.

            • I’m pretty sure the problem is just with 1% of them.

              This kind of reminds me about ancient history when motorcycle gangs were a new thing. Public figures raised the alarm repeatedly which prompted the AMA (American Motorcyclists Association) to observed that 99% of motorcyclists were law-abiding citizens. The problem was just with the 1% who were the real troublemakers. The response from the gangs was to get diamond shaped patches and tattoos which proudly proclaimed their inclusion in that 1%.

              I bet Carly has that tattoo.

            • I think you might be onto something there. But I fear it was the Gen-X who brought us the reality show. So there’s a lot of blame to go around.

              • Which leaves my generation-Generation Y, totally blameless. :D

                Rick is right though-it is mainly a small section of them who all live in New York.

  2. I’ve long been of the opinion that the proliferation of monopolies has been a root cause of so much that is wrong with the modern world. It’s not hard to come up with an extensive list of the direct and indirect effects, although I’ve never actually sat down and tried. Naturally, this would just be idle speculation since I have no background or expertise in economics. But I have often thought that somebody should write a book on this subject.

    This discussion inspired me to see if that had already been done. As a result, I bought “Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction” by Barry C. Lynn. Now I’ll have to see what he has to say.

    • Thanks for the rec! I just requested it. But might I suggest you check out Dean Baker’s The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. It is available for free in PDF form. This is the truth: business interests have every incentive to eliminate competition. Thus it is ridiculous to think that getting rid of government is going to make for competitive markets; it’s just going to lead to a new form of feudalism — which is the direction that the Republicans want to take us.

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