Job Creation Over Deficit Reduction - Traditional Media Keep Missing The Point

Derek Thompson from the Atlantic is pushing back a bit against recent series of posts from Greg Sargent at the Plumline arguing that the political media establishment in the Beltway bubble are trapped in a “Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop.”

Sargent’s case was bolstered yesterday when the National Journal offered up datapoints that supported contentions that increased traditional media obsession with deficit is lurching our national conversations on economic issues to the extreme right.

Thompson essentially counters that the traditional media should get a pass for not covering unemployment issues because no one is trying to fix it. There are number of problems with Thompson’s argument.

First, his argument that no one is trying to fix the job issues is just off base. Congressional Democrats for their part have remained focus on the jobs. He should specifically look through the “Make it in America” section of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s website and learn more about the Democratic agenda, which is all about jobs. The “People’s Budget” presented by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which was described as a “courageous” by the Economist, also focuses how to “put America back to work.”

He should pay close attention to leaders such as Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), one of the most effective spokespersons for a progressive vision in the U.S. Congress, who has been hammering away on how to make “job creation” the “number 1 focus” for our Congress. And just days ago President Barack Obama tied trade pacts to aid for U.S. workers who lose jobs. So the insinuation that our elected officials – specifically Democrats in Congress – have not focused on how to fix jobs issues does not fly. Unless, of course, you're talking about Republicans. More after the split.

Second, he fails to note Americans are more concerned about jobs than anything else. This is not some kind of convenient Democratic and progressive talking point. This is backed up by recent poll numbers. As noted by the Pew Research Center on May 4, while most Americans “see addressing the deficit as a top priority, concern about jobs and prices remains more widespread among the general public.” PEW specifically noted the following:

In fact, only among Staunch Conservatives and Libertarians do even half rate the budget deficit as the economic issue that worries them most (50% and 49%, respectively). While 34% of Main Street Republicans rate the deficit as their top concern – which is higher than the national average – about half cite either jobs (24%) or rising prices (26%) as their top concern.

Not surprisingly, given how hard they were hit by the recession, Disaffecteds are mostly concerned about the job situation (43%) and rising prices (36%) – just 9% cite the deficit as their top concern. Similarly, nearly as many Hard-Pressed Democrats say the job situation (33%) worries them most as say rising prices (42%). New Coalition Democrats and Solid Liberals are more worried about the job situation than other national economic issues (42% and 46%, respectively).

Get that – even a sizeable chunk of “Main Street Republicans” are more concerned about jobs as their top concern. Yet somehow we don’t see these concerns being fleshed in today’s traditional media coverage which is completely obsessed with deficit reduction.

Third, Thompson forgets that it has been his colleagues from the traditional media, who have a track record of building their coverage based on right wing frame that has never been really concerned about the jobs. Many of us remember the right wing traditional slanted media coverage from two years ago when despite warnings from many economists that stimulus package being debated on the Hill was too small, the networks rarely raised the issue.

So I don’t think Thompson's excuse -- that traditional media should get a pass for not covering unemployment issues because no one is trying to fix it -- has a lot of merit. I hope for the sake of majority of Americans who are concerned about getting back to work and keeping our country’s economy moving in the right direction, the Beltway media wake up and cut through their echo chamber, which for now is all framed within extreme right-wing talking points.


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