Tuesday, September 14, 2010

AP Attacks Meg Whitman with Op-Ed "News" Article

Today, my local paper printed the second of two hit piece in 4 days on Republican candidates; the first (9/11) by the NYT “A G.O.P. Leader Tightly Bound to Lobbyists” and the second (9/14) by AP "Whitman exaggerates Brown’s spending". I wouldn’t mind the articles so much if they were printed on the opinions page, but placing theses editorials next to supposed real news is purposely misleading. What the AP article said was Meg Whitman used dumbed down accounting techniques to show the extent of Jerry Brown's tax and spending while he was Governor of California.

When Brown took over the Governorship from Ronald Regan in 1975, he inherited a $500 million surplus. Brown allowed this to balloon to nearly $5 billion in three years. This huge surplus was not result of anything done by Brown, but the result of taxes on California’s skyrocketing property values and inflation in the late 1970’s. Brown refused to re-distribute the surplus back to the voters, so a taxpayer’s revolt voted in Proposition 13, which drastically cut property taxes. Brown’s response, rather than reduce the size of the Government was to rely almost solely the the surplus, resulting in a $1 billion deficit by the time he left office. The AP article presented the fact that Brown held the growth of government to 10% a year after Proposition 13 as a positive, but if you do the math 10% a year will double the size of government spending every 9 years. Further the so-called budget cuts by Jerry Brown were not reductions in current spending, but reductions in the amount of future government increases. The AP article also compared Jerry Browns 120% increase in government spending to Ronald Reagan’s 105% increase. This is presented as if there was some consensus that Regan's spending increases were viewed a something positive by conservatives, where the opposite was true, as conservatives were highly critical of Regan’s increased spending as Governor. It is also not lost on the reader, that this AP article is not showing Brown in the light of a fiscal conservative, but rather placing him in the same category as a big spending Republican governor.

Brown did cut State income taxes by about $4 billion before Proposition 13, hoping to placate angry voters who saw the state budget surplus increasing while they could barely afford their property taxes. After Proposition 13, Brown raised gasoline and sales tax, which increased Californian’s tax burden by $2.5 billion and $4.5 -$5 billion respectively. While these taxes may have been necessary to offset Proposition 13, they most certainly were tax increase. Finally the article throws out a figure of $4.4 billion dollars being returned to local government during the 1978-1979 fiscal year. What it failed to say was as a result of Proposition 13, property tax revenues no longer went directly to local governments, but was paid through the state and then returned to local government, so it would follow that the amount of money returned to local government would substantially increase under Proposition 13.

So, to no ones surprise, the AP article is a partisan response to Meg Whitman’s political ads. One could almost justify these articles if they were more balanced, but there is also a total lack of opposing articles pointing out the obvious mis-information from the Jerry Brown attack ads. The most obvious is the ad that points out in a very accusatory manner that ebay’s overhead increased 2000% when Meg Whitman took control; the fact that she increased the number ebay employees from 40 to 15,000 may have had something to do with that increase. It’s as if Meg Whitman is being attack for creating jobs. So no, there is no reciprocity here, these AP and NYT’s articles should be clearly labeled as OP-Ed pieces. The fact that they are not, is indicative of the NYT being in near receivership and the Whitehouse’s stated desire to subsidize these partisan news media, as not to lose an outlet for their Progressive propaganda.

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