Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The Arizona Daily Star's replacement political reporter for veteran political report Rhonda Bodfield, who had the good sense to jump a sinking ship, is Brady McCombs.
McCombs' political reporting during the GOP Special Election primary was pure stenography. He never asked a penetrating question, and never got the "balance" quote from the Barber campaign in response to the GOP. And fact checking? Fuhgettaboutit!
David Safier, whose patience as a classroom teacher shows, has bent over backwards for this guy, arguing that McCombs was thrown into a difficult situation having to take over the political reporting assignment just as Congresswoman Giffords resigned and a Special Election was getting under way. David has argued that McCombs was in over his head and just needed some time and encouragement to catch up and to do a better job of reporting -- always the teacher, that David.
Well school's out, son. Welcome to the real world of work. I have done employment law for over 20 years. I have reviewed the hiring and firing and disciplinary actions of well over a thousand employees (I've lost count) during that time. Your probationary period is over, Mr. McCombs. Time for your performance review.
In today's print edition only exclusive in the Sunday Star captioned 'Senior's benefits dominate CD 8 race," Brady McCombs ventures outside of his comfort zone of "strictly stenography" and into political commentary in what is supposed to be a hard news story -- a sin common in the modern corporate media. When he ventures into commentary, it exposes the fact that he is either: (a) incompetent, or (b) uninformed, or (c) purposefully misleading. McCombs demonstrates that he lacks the knowledge and experience in policy matters and politics necessary to be a good political reporter. Probation is over. As Donald Trump would say, "You''re fired!"
In his opening lede, McCombs asserts "The race to replace Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Congress has been hijacked by Social Security and Medicare" to the detriment of other pressing issues. This is because the NRCC has chosen to run the same campaign that it ran in 2010 against Democratic candidates across the country. This is a deliberate strategy by the NRCC, nothing has been "hijacked" -- the NRCC wants to narrow the issues down to a single issue and pound home its $500 billion lie that will not die. Fact Check: The NRCC's 'pants on fire' - the $500 billion lie that will not die and Fact Check: Jesse Kelly's 'pants on fire' - the $500 billion lie that will not die.
McCombs says early in the report that the Affordable Care Act (which he later refers to by "Obamacare") "includes more than $500 billion in future spending cuts to Medicare." Now your typical low information voter reads that line to mean spending cuts to Medicare beneficiaries, not providers, which is where the projected savings over the next 10 years actually come from. Some of the savings come from paying providers at the same rate and on the same basis for Medicare Advantage programs as for base Medicare. This is not explained until some TEN PARAGRAPHS later.
McCombs could have cited, as I have, the Washington Post's fact checker Glenn Kessler, who destroyed the NRCC's $500 billion lie that will not die. Fact Checking the GOP debate: $500 billion in cuts to Medicare? - The Washington Post:
First of all, under the health care bill, Medicare spending continues to go up year after year. The health care bill tries to identify ways to save money, and so the $500 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as “the baseline”) and the changes the law makes to reduce spending. (Look at slide 15 of this nifty tutorial on the law’s impact on Medicare by the Kaiser Family Foundation to see a chart of the year by year savings.)
The savings actually are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries. These spending reductions presumably would be a good thing, since virtually everyone agrees that Medicare spending is out of control. In the House Republican budget, lawmakers repealed the Obama health care law but retained all but $10 billion of the nearly $500 billion in Medicare savings, suggesting the actual policies enacted to achieve these spending reductions were not that objectionable to GOP lawmakers.
The Obama health care law also raised Medicare payroll taxes by $113 billion over 10 years, further strengthening the program’s financial condition, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Since about half of the $500 billion stems from reduced outlays for Medicare hospitalization expenses, the payroll taxes and those reductions would add about $358 billion to Medicare trust fund balances.
Take note of Kessler's assessment that the ACA stengthens Medicare's financial position, because In between those ten paragraphs comes this bit of "commentary" from McCombs: "The future looks bleak for social security and Medicare, which could both be operating in the red within two decades if Congress doesn't act."
I have previously warned you about this "the sky is falling!" reporting by uninformed corporate media villagers. An annual ritual of spring: 'The sky is falling! The sky is falling!':
[On Monday], the Medicare Trustees will release their 2012 report. It’s likely to elicit a similar round of headlines. Before that happens, it’s worth understanding why projections of the fund’s insolvency actually say very little about whether Medicare is going bankrupt. Reports of Medicare’s death are, as Mark Twain would put it, greatly exaggerated.
* * *
In 1970, the Medicare Trustees began issuing annual reports on the financial state of the Medicare Trust Fund. It has faced a projected shortfall “almost from its inception,” a 2009 Congressional Research Service report found. In 1970, the Medicare Trustees Report predicted that the fund would be insolvent just two years later, in 1972. Pretty much every year after that, the Trust Funds’ insolvency has never seemed that far off.
Read the rest of the post, complete with a chart.
As for social security, a real tax expert, David Cay Johnston, as opposed to an unimformed corporate media villager, also tells everyone to take a deep breath and chill. David Cay Johnston: Social Security is not 'going broke':
Now let's hear from a tax expert, David Cay Johnston, on the social security trust fund. Social Security Is Not Going Broke:
Which federal program took in more than it spent last year, added $95 billion to its surplus and lifted 20 million Americans of all ages out of poverty?
Why, Social Security, of course, which ended 2011 with a $2.7 trillion surplus.
That surplus is almost twice the $1.4 trillion collected in personal and corporate income taxes last year. And it is projected to go on growing until 2021, the year the youngest Baby Boomers turn 67 and qualify for full old-age benefits.
So why all the talk about Social Security “going broke?” That theme filled the news after release of the latest annual report of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds, as Social Security is formally called.
The reason is that the people who want to kill Social Security have for years worked hard to persuade the young that the Social Security taxes they pay to support today’s gray hairs will do nothing for them when their own hair turns gray.
That narrative has become the conventional wisdom because it is easily reduced to a headline or sound bite. The facts, which require more nuance and detail, show that, with a few fixes, Social Security can be safe for as long as we want.
Now that we have cleared away McComb's "the sky is falling!" hysterical commentary, let's return to his reporting on the Medicare issue. He points out that Jesse Kelly "In response to the buffetting he's taken over comments from his 2010 campaign, Kelly has been doing all he can this time around to reassure voters he will protect those benefits" (social security and Medicare). McCombs gives a recital of facts that we have previously reported here at Blog for Arizona, and then reverts to his "strictly stenography" comfort zone with a 'he says vs. he says" competing statements from the campaigns.
McCombs glosses over Kelly's recent obsfuscations on his support for privatization of Medicare, at one point writng "His opinion on privatization . . . remains unclear," despite his recitation of facts that show Kelly does support privatiziation. So McCombs is trying to cast doubt where there is no doubt.
In 2010 Jesse Kelly suported the Paul Ryan Budget Plan which converts Medicare into a voucher system, but he has been careful to avoid answering any direct questions on it in 2012. McCombs fails to even mention the Paul Ryan Budget Plan in his lengthy report. All but four Republicans in the House and five Republicans in the Senate voted in lockstep in favor of the Paul Ryan Budget Plan. The Ryan Budget Plan retains all but $10 billion of the nearly $500 billion in Medicare savings that Kelly's ads decry as $500 billion in Medicare spending cuts by Democrats. Jesse Kelly will vote with the GOP Caucus. Period.
The remainder of the report is more of McComb's "strictly stenography" comfort zone with a 'he says vs. he says" competing statements from the campaigns.
Finally, I point out that despite the dozens of fact check articles that have been done on the $500 billion dollar lie that will not die since 2010, the Arizona Daily Star failed to publish any of these fact check articles as a sidebar to this report, and it has failed to publish any of these fact check articles during the course of this campaign. I can only conclude that this is a deliberate editorial decision.
I find it hard to believe that this is the best the Arizona Daily Star can do with political reporting. The Star is shortchanging and in many cases misleading its readers with poor political reporting. Southern Arizonans deserve far better than this.