Stop Spending Cuts or People Will 'Starve to Death'

Plus, check out Pulitzer Prize-winning economics writer David Leonhardt's simple solution to budget woes: Raise taxes. And "Mr. Obama knows his hoops."
Stop Spending Cuts or People Will "Starve to Death"

"I stopped eating on Monday and joined around 4,000 other people in a fast to call attention to congressional budget proposals that would make huge cuts in programs for the poor and hungry....These supposedly deficit-reducing cuts - they'd barely make a dent - will quite literally cause more people to starve to death, go to bed hungry or live more miserably than are doing so now." - Food writer Mark Bittman in a March 30 op-ed, "Why We're Fasting."

"What causes the lack? Imprisonment, torture, being stranded on a desert island, anorexia, crop failure....and both a lack of aid and bad distribution of nutrients. Some (or much) of both of these last two stem from unregulated capitalism and greed." - Bittman on his blog at, March 31.

More of the Myth of Max Cleland

"...Senator Saxby Chambliss, 67, a genial Georgia conservative whose nasty first campaign left lingering bad feelings among Democrats....Mr. Chambliss remains negatively defined by his 2002 defeat of Senator Max Cleland, a triple-amputee veteran of Vietnam, after a campaign that included an ad picturing Mr. Cleland with Osama bin Laden. Mr. Chambliss's work on the Gang of Six has done as much as anything to soften attitudes." - Reporter Jackie Calmes, April 17. The Times has long claimed the Chambliss ad questioned Democrat Sen. Cleland's patriotism by linking him to Osama bin Laden. The actual ad opens with a montage of four photographs, one each of bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, two others of the U.S. military, as a narrator reads: "As America faces terrorists and extremist dictators, Max Cleland runs television ads claiming he has the courage to lead." Only then does the ad show photo of Cleland.

Mike Hale Again Injects His Liberal Politics Into TV Review

"There isn't anything new in the film to upset the gun lobby, but there's plenty to depress anyone who thinks that the country would be better off with fewer than its tally of some 250 million guns." - Conclusion to television critic Mike Hale's April 13 review of "Gun Fight," an HBO documentary.

Pulitzer Winner David Leonhardt's Simple Budget Solution: Tax Hikes

"A fairer, more fiscally conservative plan would not postpone dealing with Medicare. It would leave in place the cost control measures in the health reform bill and go even further to reward the quality of care rather than the volume....Next, the federal government would raise taxes. As countries have grown richer over time, they have historically paid higher taxes - to cover the costs of a strong military, good schools, comfortable retirements and other luxuries that the free market doesn't provide. Affluent Americans, in particular, can afford higher taxes. They have received far larger raises in recent decades than any other income group, and their tax rates have fallen far more. Yet Mr. Ryan would reduce them further." - Times chief economics writer David Leonhardt's front-page economics column, April 6.

"In reality, finding a way to raise taxes may well be the central political problem facing the United States." - David Leonhardt's front-page economics column, April 13.

On Top of the Big Stories: "Mr. Obama Knows His Hoops"

"Being president is an ego trip. So you would have thought President Obama wouldn't need to add to his bragging rights. But Mr. Obama's N.C.A.A. men's basketball bracket stands - for the moment, anyway - as one of the best out there....His picks for the final eight teams are all still alive, giving him a shot at a near-perfect bracket. All of which proves one thing: Mr. Obama knows his hoops." - Michael Shear on the paper's "Caucus" blog, March 19.

Republicans "Shrink" Medicare, While Obama Finds Painless "Savings"

"The Republican plan includes a shrinking of Medicare and Medicaid and trillions of dollars in tax cuts, while sparing defense spending. Mr. Obama, by contrast, envisions a more comprehensive plan that would include tax increases for the richest taxpayers, cuts to military spending, savings in Medicare and Medicaid, and unspecified changes to Social Security." - Budget reporter Jackie Calmes, April 11.

"Assault" on a "Historic Measure"? Really?

"A year after President Obama signed his health care law into effect, the two leading Republicans in Congress are making it clear that they do not intend to let up in their assault on the historic measure." - Michael Shear on the paper's "Caucus" blog, March 23.

Blame "Compassion Fatigue," Basketball for Obama's Unpopularity on Libya

"Many Americans find themselves scratching their heads about America's military intervention in Libya, and part of the reason, they say, can be summed up in one word: overload....Or maybe it is compassion fatigue....Some people said they had opinions and conclusions about Libya, but they worried that they were not getting enough information from news organizations to make those judgments feel sound. Some painted dark conspiracies about information being withheld; others cheerfully admitted that they were paying more attention to the college basketball tournament than to the no-fly zone over Libya." - Denver Bureau Chief Kirk Johnson, March 27.

Reporter Editorializes on Texas Budget Cuts: "Not a Pretty Picture"

"It is hard to overstate the budget-cutting furor that has gripped lawmakers in this capital, where the Republicans who control the Legislature and all statewide offices believe voters sent them an iron-clad mandate last year to shrink the size of government. But the Texas government was already a relatively lean operation after years of conservative fiscal policies. So when the Texas House passed its budget bill last weekend, the depth of the cutbacks necessary for the Republican majority to stick to its promise of no new taxes became clearer. It was not a pretty picture." - Reporter James McKinley Jr., April 9.

"Awesome" To Sit Across from "Anti-Reagan" Cuomo

"If you were a kid in the Northeast during the 1980s, as I was, there is something awesome - in the literal sense - about sitting across a desk from Mario Cuomo, even if he now misplaces names and occasionally grasps for the point of an anecdote that has fluttered just out of reach. He was, at that time, the anti-Reagan, a powerful and resonant voice of dissent in the age of Top Gun and Alex P. Keaton. Cuomo, Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson were the three titans of the day who seemed to possess the defiance needed to rescue liberalism from obsolescence." - Correspondent Matt Bai in an April 10 New York Times Magazine profile of the former New York governor.

Rich People Don't Actually "Earn" Money, Merely "Claim" It, "Receive" It

"Typically, comments about rising inequality refer to the stark disparities in incomes of the very highest-paid Americans and everyone. We have observed in several posts, for example, that most of the income gains over the last few decades have gone to the very richest Americans. That means the highest-paid Americans have been claiming a larger and larger share of earnings....Pretty striking, right? As of 2008, about 21 percent of income was received by just 1 percent of earners....The top 1 percent of earners receive about a fifth of all American income; on the other hand, the top 1 percent of Americans by net worth hold about a third of American wealth." - Reporter Catherine Rampell writing on the paper's "Economix" blog, March 30.

"Budget-Cutting Fervor" Threatens "Life-Affirming" Radio Station

"Juxtaposed against other hardships in Appalachia, the beaming of a radio signal might seem a luxury. But WMMT, which reaches across the mountains, coal fields and hollows of eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia, creates a connective tissue for its far-flung, geographically isolated listeners. It also offers respite from the daily grind....the sounds from the radio can be, if not essential, at least life-affirming....But with the rise of the Tea Party and with anti-earmark, budget-cutting fervor gripping the nation's capital, little of that sentiment is being expressed today, especially by Republicans." - Reporter Katharine Seelye, April 12.