Zoo Station

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Who knew? Media reports on economy based on who is in power.

Posted by Chance on February 6, 2007

Thanks to Glen for finding this article.

In 1996, Bill Clinton ran for reelection as president. The U.S. economy was doing well at the time: unemployment down to 5.2%, inflation under control at 3%, and overall growth at 2.2%. And the press reported all this good news: According to the 2004 MRC study, 85% of all major economic stories on the economy in the summer of 1996 were positive.

Eight years later, George W. Bush was running for re-election as president. The U.S. economy in 2004 did much better than in 1996: The economy grew at a 3.9% pace, while unemployment and inflation roughly matched their 1996 levels (5.4% and 2.7% respectively). Yet this time, 77% of all major media economic coverage was negative. (For the full report, see http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2004/fax2004
1020.asp.) And since the 2004 election, the barrage of bad news has continued: reports of housing bubbles, warnings of an imminent collapse in the U.S. dollar, and so on.
[…]
Democrats are proposing higher taxation of energy companies–and making it clear that they will not vote to renew President Bush’s cut in taxes on dividends and capital gains. Leading members of the new Congress have expressed strong protectionist views.

Democrats hope to push labour costs up faster than productivity–and to curb corporate profits they regard as inflated. If they succeed, profitability must suffer, and stock prices must decline.

And yet, bizarrely, at this very moment of maximum worry, the press reports–so negative, for so long–are suddenly turning positive again. On Jan. 31, Associated Press reporter Andrew Taylor filed a story from Washington that opened cheerily: “The House passed a [US] $463.5-billion spending bill Wednesday that covers about one-sixth of the federal budget as Democrats cleared away the financial mess they inherited from Republicans.”

Don’t get me wrong, Bush isn’t perfect, as government spending has skyrocketed under his watch, but the market economy has many of the strengths that people pointed to when Clinton was president. Now, previous blogs have reported similar stories of the Clinton and Bush economies, and no doubt, people (liberals) will dig up some statistic speaking about how the economy is really not that great. That’s fine, but those who bring up those statistics will speak as if unemployment and inflation didn’t matter, and I did not see Clinton economics under so much scrutiny. Bad news is easy to find when you want it.

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