Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Beltway Media's Appalling Lack of Clarity In Reporting Intrasigence of Republican Zealots

Is it just me, or is the network coverage of the latest House Republican-bred crisis to gum up the works on a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits extension for one year just adding to the viewer’s confusion with its circular cop-out non-explanation that “both sides” are playing the “blame game?” Please. That may be good enough for sophists like Dylan Ratigan and his generic ‘they’re-all-the-same-politicians from Tea Partiers to Progressives’, but a news division has the overarching responsibility to report THE NEWS.

So why is it that, moments after President Obama comes out and reiterates that both sides reached agreement on the payroll tax cut and unemployment extensions, but the Republicans have added riders which have nothing to do with extending the payroll tax cut, this fact isn’t reported clearly and specifically, and the blame placed squarely on the Republicans, where it belongs? Tamron Hall was inexplicably looping the same confusing garbage with her Republican interviewees, instead of asking them why they haven’t set aside these poison pill riders and agreed to pass a clean bill without them:
  1. Blocks Environmental Review of Keystone Pipeline — The bill would prevent the State Department from finishing its review of the Canada-to-Texas Keystone pipeline, and mandate its construction before environmental concerns are fully addressed.
  2. Requires Mandatory Drug Testing — The Republican plan would let states bar people from collecting unemployment benefits unless they submit to drug testing, although there has been no concrete evidence linking unemployment with increased drug abuse.
  3. Requires GED/Training Programs for Unemployed — The bill would require the unemployed to be enrolled in GED or training programs.
  4. Deregulates Incinerators and Boilers — The bill would strip the EPA of authority to regulate incinerators and boilers, with the EPA warns could lead to an estimated 20,000 premature deaths.
  5. Strips Preventive Health Care Fund — The plan stops the federal government from encouraging preventive health care, stripping $8 billion from the Affordable Care Act's prevention and public health fund.
  6. Closes The 'Strip Club Loophole — The plan assumes that people are using food stamps for liquor, gambling and strip clubs, and therefore closes the "strip club loophole" that supposedly lets welfare recipients use their electronic benefits cards in such establishments.
  7. Slashes Unemployment Benefits — The hardest hit states would lose 40 weeks of unemployment under the proposed bill. All other states would lose between 14 and 34 weeks.
  8. Requires Children's Social Security Numbers — Requires undocumented immigrants and others to submit their children's Social Security numbers before they could receive refunds under the children's tax credit.
The bipartisan Senate compromise, which passed with an unheard-of 89 votes compelled Democrats to drop their surtax on millionaires to pay for it as well as concessions to Republicans on relaxing environmental regulations that would endanger people’s health, notably fast-tracking the Keystone pipeline approval (or disapproval process), and locking down cuts previously agreed to. So, there’s no question but that the majority Democrats in the Senate gave up more than they received, and certainly showed a spirit of serious compromise, to their detriment as usual — so much so that two conservative Republican scions of the Senate, Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, were pictured high-fiving each other following their agreement with Democrats.

So why isn’t this dynamic within the Republican Party in Congress properly and objectively portrayed by the cable networks and Beltway Media, instead of this constant “pox-on-both-their-houses" by Tamron Hall, et al? This lack of basic preparation and understanding of the issues, of the legislative maneuvers of Republicans against Democrats from the President on down, who have repeatedly sought real compromise, is what is “appalling” about MSNBC’s coverage of Congress. It doesn’t help when the sole Congressional “correspondent” spends most of his time making outrageous excuses for the Republicans, which simply further clouds the issues.

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