Thursday, October 27, 2005

Fed Budget: Too Much Cutting or Too Much Spending?

I found it interesting to notice the contrast in AP stories chosen by CNN and Fox News about the progress of the congressional budget efforts. The articles are quite different in their approach. Here are the headlines and opening sentences of each:

CNN:

Headline: House Republicans chop several programs

Opening sentences: House Republicans voted to cut student loan subsidies, child support enforcement and aid to firms hurt by unfair trade practices as various committees scrambled to piece together $50 billion in budget cuts. More politically difficult votes -- to cut Medicaid, food stamps and farm subsidies -- are on tap Thursday as more panels weigh in on the bill.

FOX:

Headline: GOP budget plan cuts and spends

Opening sentences: Like fussy children, lawmakers on Capitol Hill sometimes need a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. This budget season, the medicine is a $39 billion-plus deficit-reduction bill. The sweetener? Lots of new spending to go along with the budget cuts.

CNN emphasizes the Republicans cutting the budget (actually using the more dramatic term of “chopping”) and opens with specific examples. Fox primarily emphasizes the new spending being proposed. CNN’s article gives several examples of cuts and only one example of new spending, the controversial ANWR drilling issue. Fox’s article, on the other hand gives lots of examples of new spending (with concern that it may be too much spending) but little mention of cuts. Look at these interesting comparisons:

CNN

Fox

It also imposes new fees on students who default on loans or consolidate them and higher fees on parents who borrow on behalf of their college-age children.

College students would get more than $8 billion in new grants,…

The bill also would tighten eligibility standards for foster care assistance in nine states and delay some lump-sum payments to very poor and elderly beneficiaries of Social Security's Supplemental Security Income program.

…and more disabled children would retain Medicaid health coverage.

The measure is the first in eight years to take aim at the automatic growth of federal spending programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.

Republicans are touting the upcoming budget bill as the first effort to cut federal benefit programs in eight years.

The Ways and Means Committee approved on a party-line vote a plan by its chairman, Rep. Bill Thomas, R-California, with so many difficult-to-swallow provisions that lawmakers and aides whispered about whether the intent was to make it hard for GOP leaders to win its passage in the full House.

For many lawmakers, though, the spending add-ons are critical to winning their votes.

By the way, CNN quotes Pres. Bush, three Democratic lawmakers, and no Republican lawmakers (but one Republican aide). Fox quotes two Republican lawmakers (although one expresses concern for his colleagues’ work) and no Democrats (but one former Democratic aide).

Links to the articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/10/27/congress.budgetcuts.ap/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,173577,00.html