Back in November 2011, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman made it pretty clear that he needed some help finding widely available information about the policy plans he was writing about as if they didn't exist. Specifically, the White House's plan to address the deficit. Eventually, Friedman visited the White House, and there was some hope that someone there would introduce him to this thing called the "Internet," and maybe even wow him with these devices called "printers" which can "print" stuff from the "Internet" onto "paper."
Well, we seem to be having a repeat of this phenomenon. See, the infamous sequester is looming, and people want to know, "Does the president have a plan?" So once again, I am here to help reporters and columnists figure this stuff out.
ACOSTA: Jay, what is the President's plan to prevent the sequestration from happening?
JAY CARNEY: The President has put forward a plan --
ACOSTA: Yesterday he talked about budget cuts. What are those cuts that he is proposing?
CARNEY: Well, you can go to whitehouse.gov and look at the President's budget, look at his submission to the sequester and look at all the reporting -- ample reporting done and information that we provided on the offer that the President made to the Speaker of the House in December that in great detail put forward the spending cuts that the President supported and put forward, as well as the savings from entitlement reforms -- significant savings from entitlement reforms.
Yes, indeed, here is that plan that Carney was talking about, right where he said it was. And the good news for everyone is that if you type "White House sequestration plan" into this thing called Google, the first result is a blog post on the White House's website with all sorts of links to all sorts of plans that maybe a lot of reporters weren't aware of, and "A Balanced Plan to Avert the Sequester and Reduce the Deficit" is currently the third result.
(You get similar Google results when you type in, "What Time Is The White House Sequestration Plan?" which I understand a lot of people are doing now, for fun.)
Alternatively, Acosta could have tuned in to his own network or read some of CNN's reporting. Here's one story on CNN Money that talks about the budget cuts that Obama has proposed. And here's Wolf Blitzer, talking about this stuff on an edition of "The Situation Room":
BLITZER: The president is proposing roughly $3 trillion in savings, which includes $1.5 trillion in new taxes, primarily on the wealthiest Americans, as well as a tax surcharge on millionaires named for the business giant Warren Buffett, who says the rich aren't paying enough in taxes. Also included, $580 billion in mandatory cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid and another $1.1 trillion in savings. That would come from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The president's plan does not include any changes to Social Security or the Medicare eligibility age, both of which are fiercely opposed by Democrats and many Republicans, as well.
Of course, if Acosta doesn't want to watch the Situation Room, I can hardly blame him, because it's a terrible, terrible show.
New York Times columnist David Brooks also seems to be in need of a skill set that includes "Googling," because here is his latest column, in which he says things like, "the president identifies a problem. Then he declines to come up with a proposal to address the problem," and, "The president hasn’t actually come up with a proposal to avert sequestration, let alone one that is politically plausible."
As Kevin Drum notes, "Brooks is right about one thing, though: it's not politically plausible." But there's a but:
But that has nothing to do with either the reasonableness of the plan or with Obama's willingness to cut a deal. It's solely because of Republicans' flat refusal to tolerate any deficit reduction plan that includes even a dime in additional revenue.
The salient point, however, is that the plan that Brooks thinks is non-existent is actually really, really existent.
Of course, my larger concern with Brooks new piece is that it's filled with these weird metaphors like "the Permanent Campaign Shimmy" and "Suicide Stage Dive" and it's titled "The D.C. Dubstep." All of which raises questions like: "Is David Brooks trying to get into dubstep, now?" and "When will he write a column about how he and his rich friends traveled the world following Bassnectar on tour and had a bunch of life-changing experiences?" I hope that the answers to those questions are "No" and "Never."
By the way, New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan, leading contender for the 2013 "Eat The Press Spirit Animal Of The Year" award, says that her upcoming print column "takes up the question...of how much editing and direction The Times’s star Op-Ed columnists receive," so maybe we are going to find out some answers about how a David Brooks column that references dubstep managed to be a thing that happened in America.
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