Remember when people talked about America’s “liberal media bias”? You don’t hear much along those lines any more. The reason is that there’s nothing liberal about today’s mainstream media in America.
Their blatant conservatism is displayed not only in their pro-war propaganda and excessive coverage of melon heads like Michele Bachmann, Tea Party ignoramuses, and self-glorifying buffoons like Donald Trump, but also by what they ignore.
Take the current chatter about the national budget, for instance.
From the stuff you hear on radio and TV or read in the press, you would think only two choices exist: the Republican rob-from-the-poor-to-give-to-the rich plan and the president’s middle-of-the-road, share-the-pain alternative.
But there’s another proposal on the table – one you don’t hear or read about.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has put forward a plan.
And Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman thinks it’s a pretty good one. Here’s how he sums it up:
The CPC plan essentially balances the budget through higher taxes and defense cuts, plus some tougher bargaining by Medicare (and a public option to reduce the costs of the Affordable Care Act). The proposed tax hikes would fall mainly on higher incomes, although not just on the top 2%: super-brackets for very high incomes, elimination of deductions, taxation of capital income as ordinary income, and — the part that would be most controversial — raising the cap on payroll taxes.
None of this is economically outlandish. Marginal tax rates on high incomes would rise substantially — enough to make even liberal economists slightly uncomfortable — but the historical evidence suggests that the incentive effects wouldn’t be too severe. Overall taxes as a share of GDP aren’t given, but they would clearly remain well below European levels.
Krugman points out that:
…If you want to balance the budget in 10 years, you pretty much must do it largely by cutting defense and raising taxes; you can’t make huge cuts in the rest of the budget without inflicting extreme pain on millions of Americans. So the CPC plan is actually much more of a real response to the deficit worriers than all the nonsense we’re hearing from the right. What it doesn’t do is address the long-run health cost issue, which is essential looking beyond the next decade. But as a medium-term proposal, it’s quite sensible.
So sensible, in fact, that Krugman figures “in the end we’ll do something along these lines, although probably with more of the tax burden falling on the middle class.”
He wonders out loud “why does this plan get no attention, while the cruel fantasies of the right get headlines?”
And he says, “I’ll leave that as a question for readers.”
But I bet he knows why.
It’s a matter of record that conservative interests, hugely wealthy and powerful conservative interests, have spent the past 40 years or so deliberately shaping the media to their purpose. To counteract the liberalism generated during the Vietnam era, they have funded think tanks, established university departments, bought up most of the media outlets and intimidated the ones they do not own.
They have invested millions – make that billions – in public relations campaigns, rooted in the Internet and fronted by
“grassroots” organizations, to brainwash the American public and control the country’s political machinery.
The plan has borne fruit, and today mainstream America is far to the right of Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller, Dwight Eisenhower and probably Barry Goldwater. Even the first black president in the country’s history – a so-called Democrat – is surprisingly unliberal.
So where do we go from here?
I don’t see the climate becoming more liberal. Indeed, with the vast wealth and power at the disposal of conservative activists, and with the complicity of the U.S. Supreme Court, the radical right seems destined to control America’s future.
Perhaps America’s liberals will eventually give up and move to Canada, where liberalism is still alive and well.