The CBO And Media Malpractice

The CBO just released its estimate for 2014 GDP growth. It’s not pretty. They’re saying that by the end of the year the US economy will grow by an abysmal 1.5%.

The Congressional Budget Office says the U.S. economy will grow by just 1.5% this year—hurt by a poor first-quarter performance.

This new assessment is considerably more pessimistic than the Obama administration’s.

Last month, the administration predicted that the economy would grow 2.6% this year.


There’s really no way you can spin this into anything positive for the Obama administration, but the media will try. From the same article:

The CBO says the economy should grow by 3.4% over 2015 and 2016, and predicts that the unemployment rate will remain below 6% into the future.

The economy unexpectedly contracted over the first quarter of the year, in part because of an unusually harsh winter.

Now you’d think a news service (in this case the AP) would give its readers some context to this. But you’d be wrong. They just take the “silver lining” the CBO provided and leave it there.

I’ll cut AP some slack. These are wire service releases. As close to “just the facts, ma’am” as you can get. The test (which I’m certain the media as a whole will fail) will be other reporting on the latest CBO projections.

Here’s what’s going to happen: The media will begrudgingly acknowledge that GDP growth is awful and then point to the CBO projections for 2015 and 2016 and say things will get better. The consumers of news won’t be as pissed off as they should be. Things are bad out there but they’re going to get better!

Of course, if the current president were Republican, they’d do the opposite. They’d go on and on about how bad things are and they might even tell you that in 2013 the CBO projected 2014 GDP growth would be 3.4%.

After the economy adjusts this year to the fiscal tightening inherent in current law, underlying economic factors will lead to more rapid growth, CBO projects—3.4 percent in 2014 and an average of 3.6 percent a year from 2015 through 2018

What’s this, you ask? Last year, the CBO projected 3.4% and now they’re projecting 1.5%? And they’re STILL projecting 3.4% in 2015?

A media interested in government accountability (like when there’s a Republican president) might start analyzing these projections and informing the public about the historical accuracy of government estimates. Spoiler Alert: They’re not very good at it.

You see, informing the public about this stuff would breed a healthy skepticism of government and the overwhelmingly leftist media doesn’t want that. So they spin. A public who is skeptical about government estimates will also be skeptical about the claims made by politicians regarding policies that have broad, long term implications for the economy. These claims are always backed by government estimates which promise future growth, etc. These claims get people out to vote and to support these policies.

But if people knew how bad the government was at predicting future growth, etc. they’d be more open to alternative viewpoints and policies. There’d be an actual debate about the best way forward for the country.

Can’t have that.