Commentary Criticizes CBPP Report for Cherry-Picking Bad News

August 30, 2008

I recently authored a commentary criticizing a recent report from the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, where they cherry-pick new Census data and recast what most people would consider good news into disturbing trends. I compare it to cynical spin that treats the 1970's as some ideal economic climate worth emulating:

These statements are both true and misleading. The narrow definition of poverty used by CBPP ignores the fact that poverty in 2008 means something very different than poverty in 1973, or even in 2000. Over 90 percent of American households have a color TV, telephone, automobile, microwave, and cell phone, and about 100 percent have electricity, a radio, a refrigerator, and a stove.

The CBPP report cherry picks bad-sounding statistics from a rather positive report. Employer-based health coverage dropped from 2007 to 2008, they report, overlooking the fact that Census reported a mild uptick in the number of Americans with health insurance. (It will get worse again "in 2008, and probably in 2009 as well," they reassure us.) They applaud the drop in the number of uninsured children, but reach back to the last year when the number was even smaller (2004) and shake their heads at the "trend." They hack people out of the population until they find some narrow subset where income didn't rise. They highlight the increase in children living in poverty (2008 poverty, not Oliver Twist poverty).[…]

There are, of course, worrisome issues out there, but Americans today can and do access the best economic opportunities, medicine, science, transportation, and virtually anything else, in the history of the world.

Read the commentary here.


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