Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER
Today's Washington Post article about the "offensive by Republican governors" against labor unions is a textbook case of nonsensical and slanted economic reporting, consistently putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the governors.
Most notably, the Post adopts the bizarre spin that not raising taxes is a way to reduce deficits:
The plain- spoken [New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie has emerged as a leader of a growing group of governors that is attacking yawning budget deficits by facing down public employees and promising not to raise taxes.
I'm sorry: What? The Post credits governors like Christie with "attacking yawning budget deficits" by "promising not to raise taxes"? Bizarre. (And just try to imagine the Washington Post reporting that a "group of governors is attacking yawning budget deficits by promising not to cut spending.")
Worse, the Post does not make clear that the Republican governors who are supposedly "attacking yawning budget deficits," like Christie and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, are actually pushing tax cuts that increase the deficit.
Later, the Post reports:
Though studies show that state employees are generally paid less than comparably educated private workers, public employees often enjoy more generous pension and health-care benefits, and these are at the root of the long-term budget problems confronting many states.
In fact, "budget problems" do not stem from spending alone -- they stem from a gap between spending and revenue. In New Jersey, for example, the "root" of the problem is not "generous pension benefits" -- it's that a series of New Jersey governors have raided the state pension fund to pay for tax cuts. Essentially, Republican Governors have cut taxes, creating an unfunded liability in the form of the pension system, then pointed to the lack of funding as a reason to cut pensions. That's their prerogative -- if they prefer tax cuts to pension, they're free to pursue such policies. But the Washington Post shouldn't pretend the problem is simply "generous pensions" rather than Republicans taking money from the pension system in order to fund tax cuts.