Tuesday, January 04, 2011

NY Times: Once Again, Part of the Problem

Greg David analyzes the role of the NY Times in the context of the governor's reform NY campaign-and unsurprisingly, sees the paper as a hindrance: "While most New Yorkers were getting ready for New Year's Eve celebrations, those who want to solve New York's economic problems with higher taxes dug in for their upcoming struggle with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. First, The New York Times, in an editorial headlined simply "Andrew Cuomo," called for the governor to jettison two of the centerpieces of his campaign--a cap on local property taxes and an extension of the so-called millionaires income tax surcharge."

Leave it to the Times to advise the new governor to simply sh*tcan all of his campaign promises in order to toe the paper's line on the salutary impact of higher taxes. The public employees, also as expected, have begun their own push back: "Then, in a Wall Street Journal story, labor leaders reiterated their demand for a stock transfer tax to raise a couple of billion dollars. They want the millionaires surcharge, which actually affects individuals that make more than $200,000 and families with incomes above $250,000--continued as well."

For its part, the Times may well be in Neverland-eschewing any policy prescription that would address the size and scope of government: "The Times is steadfast in its support for tougher ethics rules, campaign spending reform, nonpartisan redistricting and other measures to restore accountability in Albany. Unlike most of the members of the reform movement, it doesn't believe that taxes in the state are too high, that state government is simply unaffordable or that both of those drag down New York's economy, especially upstate."

Gee, those folks need to get out more-and talk to all of the struggling small businesses that are choking on the tax burden that the paper views with psychotic sanguininity. David, however, has none of the Times' Eyes Wide Shut perspective: "No one denies that cutting state spending to eliminate a $9 billion budget gap will be painful. No one should misunderstand the stakes: The tax issue is central to changing the political and economic situation. This may be the only time a permanent reduction in the size of state government is possible. The Journal story quoted the normally pro-tax Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver ruling out any stock transfer tax and saying the millionaires tax would not be continued."

If Speaker Silver understands this-as does the governor, of course-why does the Times remain the outlier? The answer lies in the realm of social psychology-and the manner in which ideology comforts to such an extent that folks cling to its nurturance even in the face of an oncoming train wreck. As Governor Cuomo told YNN: "The old way of solving the problem was continuing to raise taxes on people and we just can’t do that anymore…The working families of New York cannot afford tax increases. The answer is going to have to be that we’re going to have to reduce government spending.”

That is so well said, it will have to be more or less the last word-except for us to say that, when the Times advises, it is best to do the opposite.