Pelosi, Sanders and the Media

“The corporate media has done a pretty poor job covering the reconciliation legislation,” grouses Vermont’s socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders on Twitter. It’s the latest gripe from a leftist politician claiming that U.S. reporters aren’t doing enough to market the cause of bigger government. Such rhetorical attacks on the press are deeply unfair and the authors of these attacks are profoundly ungrateful.

House Speaker

Nancy Pelosi

(D-CA) on Tuesday lamented the media’s failure to sell the $3.5 trillion spending bill proposed by congressional Democrats.

“Well, I think you all could do a better job of selling it, to be very frank with you,” said at a daily press briefing with reporters, in response to a question about the proposal.

This column will not countenance such outrageous smears upon the media industry, many of whose members have made herculean efforts to promote the Biden scarcity agenda. On Tuesday this column noted the valiant attempt by a Washington Post columnist to browbeat consumers into feeling guilty for wanting products to be available on store shelves.

Now along comes the New York Times doing its level best to put a positive spin on the declining employment resulting in part from a flood of government assistance. “Why it’s OK to quit” is the subject line on an email newsletter from the paper’s Opinion section. Lindsay Crouse writes:

It hit me over the summer: Everyone was quitting. Certainly, there has been an exodus from jobs. In what’s been called the “Great Resignation,” the number of workers who quit their jobs in April alone broke an all-time U.S. record. But then more people quit in July, and in August, even more.

But people aren’t just quitting jobs. They’re moving cities too. Divorce rates are up. If there was ever a time to shake up your life, 2021 seems to be it.

Politicians have certainly been shaking up a lot of lives lately. But many Americans aren’t exactly looking to embrace the chaos. They’d prefer that it stop. Still, one can hardly blame the press corps for not being diligent enough in promoting government activism.

One of Ms. Crouse’s Times colleagues, a former Enron adviser of all people, has recently embarked on a bizarre campaign to promote federal accounting shenanigans to support the Biden agenda. In August the paper’s

Paul Krugman

somehow managed to persuade Times editors to publish his endorsement of “budget chicanery.”

More recently the Times consented to the publication of a piece in which Mr. Krugman wrote that “the Biden administration should mint a $1 trillion platinum coin or declare that the Constitution gives it the right to issue whatever debt is needed to fund the government — or use some other trick I haven’t thought of” to help the President secure a debt limit extension without having to sacrifice his plans for new spending.

In sum, Times editors are now letting Mr. Krugman publish a blank-check endorsement of federal financial chicanery before the perpetrators even explain to him how the scam works! Does anyone read this stuff before it goes to print?

Team Biden will need to call on Mr. Krugman for help again because the White House and congressional Democrats appear to be putting the finishing touches on another great Washington deception.

After the President recently got a number of media folk to go along with his claim that a multitrillion-dollar plan is cost-free, Mr. Biden probably thinks it will be a piece of cake to sell the idea that $4 trillion equals $2 trillion. Rather than cutting proposals to contain the gargantuan cost of his desired spending spree, Democrats are coalescing around the idea of simply pretending the Beltway reconciliation binge is less expensive than it is by slapping expiration dates on programs they have no intention of allowing to expire.

Andy Laperriere and Don Schneider of Cornerstone Macro figure the new package will be officially estimated to cost around $1.9 trillion and note:

However, most of the savings is achieved by sunsetting programs after they are in effect for a couple of years. Nearly all of the new programs included in the House reconciliation bill are in the latest plan. It’s a little complicated to put one number on it, but it’s fair to say the 10-year cost of the package would meet or exceed $4 trillion if none of its provisions were sunset… Progressives, including Biden, hope once these programs are created it will be hard to eliminate them and Congress will end up extending them. If that were to happen, either taxes will have to go up in the future to pay for them or the cost will be added to the deficit.

“Relying on these gimmicks and games doesn’t make sense,” adds

Maya MacGuineas

of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

One of the very few programs in the massive spending plan that Mr. Biden now seems willing to jettison is his proposal for free community college. But no one should mistake this for a nod toward fiscal sanity. It turns out that administrators and faculty at four-year colleges, the heart of the Democratic coalition, don’t like the competition from community colleges. The Journal’s Julie Bykowicz and Douglas Belkin report:

Some college advocacy groups have urged lawmakers to protect an expansion of Pell awards for students in low-income families instead of the free-tuition plan, in part because four-year institutions are fearful it will cut into their bottom lines.

Lobbyists for public four-year colleges have said states might redirect funding from their institutions. And students who otherwise would have attended four-year colleges might opt to attend community college for the first two years, depriving those campuses of a tuition source.

All of the other expensive entitlements seem likely to remain in the Biden-Sanders plan, as Democrats continue to fret over how to sell it. Jordain Carney reports in the Hill that on top of Mr. Biden’s underwater approval ratings, the plan itself isn’t so popular, either, as a “CNN poll released last week found that only 25 percent of respondents thought their family would be better off if Democrats pass both the reconciliation bill and a smaller roughly $1 trillion infrastructure measure.”

Some Democrats have responded by shooting the marketer. But it seems churlish to suggest, after all the hard work of Paul Krugman and others, that media folk haven’t sold this plan hard enough.

So perhaps the real problem is not the marketing. It’s the product.

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Please Come to America

Now that China’s communist dictatorship is openly hostile to the country’s entrepreneurs, the Biden administration should be aggressively recruiting potential free agents on the international human capital market. Today brings news that the Michael Jordan of Chinese technology executives is at least temporarily on the move. The Journal’s Keith Zhai reports:

Jack Ma,

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

’s billionaire co-founder, is traveling outside of China for the first time since his business empire came under regulatory scrutiny about a year ago, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Ma, who recently briefly spent time in Hong Kong, is now in Europe to see friends, taste wines and conduct business meetings, the people said. He arrived in Spain this week and boarded a yacht from the Balearic Islands and is expected to travel to other European countries, they said. While Mr. Ma’s schedule is fluid, he is expected to return to China next month, according to one of the people.

This is Mr. Ma’s first time overseas after the government suspended last November the blockbuster public offering of Ant Group, the financial-technology giant Mr. Ma controls, the people said.

Before Mr. Ma returns to China, U.S. Secretary of State

Antony Blinken

should ask if he might want to take his talents to South Beach—or any other American beach or city. The Balearic Islands may be lovely, but how many great technology companies have been created in Spain?

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Out on a Limb
“Upcoming rains could tamp down fire season,” San Jose Mercury News, October 19

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James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”

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