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Free Market Project

3/7/2006 12:48:14 AM

Updated 02/24/06

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Newscasts See Budget Filled with ‘Substantial’ Cuts
But government continues to grow and actual reductions amount to a tiny part of the budget.

By Ken Shepherd
Free Market Project
Feb. 7, 2006

Send this page to a friend! (click here)     Ronald Reagan once famously said that a “government bureau is the closest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth.” When President Bush’s proposed fiscal year 2007 federal budget hit newsrooms on the late President Reagan’s 95th birthday, the media showed that their biases in covering undying government spending likewise spring eternal.

     Reporters for the February 6 evening newscasts portrayed proposed reductions in government spending in the new budget as “substantial,” even though budget experts at conservative groups like the Cato Institute, the National Taxpayers Union, and the Heritage Foundation would argue otherwise.

     ABC’s Martha Raddatz warned that the “budget calls for doing away with or making substantial cuts in 141 programs of $15 billion.” But cuts that size amount to just over one-half of one percent of the entire $2.77 trillion federal budget, and pales in comparison to the “close to 300 programs for termination or cuts… amounting to $40 billion” that Republicans proposed in 1995, Cato director of budget studies Stephen Slivinski remarked in a February 6 news release.

     “The basic idea is to spend more on defense and homeland security and reduce the growth of spending -- in some cases flat-out cutting it – just about everywhere else,” CBS’s Jim Axelrod reported from the White House lawn before citing a 28 percent reduction in education spending.

     The New York Times and The Washington Post both reported that the discretionary budget for education will be cut by only 3.8 percent or one seventh of the number Axelrod reported.

     Axelrod and company also ignored the ongoing trend in the Bush presidency to rapidly accelerate the growth of federal spending – especially in education, the department the new budget reportedly cuts. The conservative National Taxpayers Union (NTU) on February 6 released an analysis showing that “Between 2001 and 2007, the President’s budget projects a faster rate of increase for education spending (81 percent) than for defense (74 percent).” It’s not just education funding that is skyrocketing under Bush. The same day, Heritage budget analyst Brian Riedl released a study finding that overall spending on the budget has risen 33 percent since President Bush first took office in 2001, growing “twice as fast under President Bush as under President Clinton.”

     The Media Research Center’s Brent Baker documented evening news coverage in his February 7 CyberAlert. On February 2, the Free Market Project similarly documented how the New York Times and Washington Post were spooked by “drastic cuts” planned for the federal budget.


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