Saturday, February 01, 2014

Saturday Satire: State of the Union

We’ll give Chris Christie a break today. He has enough problems already.

Conan O'Brien: "At last night's State of the Union address, President Obama renewed his call for a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. Yeah, that was popular. Even more popular, though, was his roadblock to citizenship for Justin Bieber. That went over huge."

"President Obama’s chief speechwriter said the president started working on his State of the Union address around Thanksgiving. In a related story today, Joe Biden finished GIVING a speech he started around Thanksgiving."

David Letterman: "How many of you folks watched the State of the Union speech last night? How many of you watched just for the commercials?"

Jimmy Kimmel: "Justin Bieber was booked for assault for an incident that happened in December. Boy, this kid is on a real crime spree. He's become a menace to society. I liked him better when he was just a menace to music."

A petition on the website asks the U.S. to deport Justin Bieber. If they get 100,000 signatures, the White House has to respond. They already have 87,000. The Canadian military is scrambling jets and mobilizing troops along the border to make sure this doesn’t happen."

Jay Leno: "In his speech tonight, President Obama urged Congress to raise the minimum wage. Now don’t confuse that with congressional minimum wage. See, that’s doing the minimum for your wage. That’s completely different."

"The Pope announced that he is coming to the United States. How about that? The purpose of this visit is to perform an exorcism on Justin Bieber."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What's more important: Millions of hungry Americans or 0.04% of the federal budget?

As news broke of a farm bill compromise involving $8 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cuts and $23 billion in cuts overall, the New York Times mentioned that it would "reduce spending." Politico described the SNAP cuts as "savings from food stamps." The Washington Post went with "slashes about $23 billion in federal spending." Sounds big, right?

It is and it isn't. $8 billion in cuts over 10 years is huge in the lives of people who will suffer directly from the cuts. But Dean Baker points out that, framed as cuts to federal spending without broader budget context, these numbers are meaningless to readers—and a lot smaller than most people would think:

It is not hard to express these numbers in ways that would convey information to the vast majority of readers. A quick trip to CEPR's Responsible Budget Reporting Calculator would tell readers that the $23 billion cut amounts to 0.11 percent of projected federal spending while the $8 billion cut in food stamps would reduce federal spending by 0.04 percent.

In other words, the food stamp cuts are huge in terms of human misery, but tiny in terms of the federal budget—even if they didn't lead to increased costs for years to come. Yet you won't hear that from most reporters.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jan 28, 2014