Speaking at yesterday’s Bloggers Briefing, conservative filmmaker Stephen Bannon held up a copy of USA Today to demonstrate the challenge of getting Americans to take seriously this country’s debt crisis.
On the front page was a banner headline, “U.S. owes $62 trillion.” Underneath the headline and above the fold was a photo of a tearful Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) from Monday’s late-afternoon press conference. The two stories had nothing to do with each other, but no doubt USA Today had an idea which one was more likely to sell papers.
“Look, this paper sums it up today,” Bannon explained to the Heritage audience. “We can spend all our time with the Anthony Weiners and have the media chase that and we can go around, spend this and do that and … suck up a news cycle for 48 or 72 hours. Or you can focus on the ticking time bomb that is going to blow this country up and make your children paupers.”
Bannon certainly understands the fiscal challenges facing America today. Last year he directed “Generation Zero,” a film about the economic collapse in 2008 and the consequences of decisions made by the Baby Boomer generation.
Don’t get me wrong about Weiner. This was a legitimate news story. But does it deserve equal weight or attention to the real crisis facing America? Our country as we know it will be changed forever if we don’t do something about our fiscal mess.
Yet it seems the sex-obsessed media would rather elevate Weiner to compete with or even supersede our fiscal and economic challenges.
Imagine if the media had devoted the same amount of ink and airtime to the recent Peterson Foundation fiscal summit. Six think tanks — from the right, left and center — put forward proposals for solving America’s debt crisis. It was an unprecedented moment with a wide array of ideas. It’s not a one-day story; these proposals should be discussed and debated in perpetuity.
After all, when in our country’s history have these issues been more relevant?
Eighty-four new Republican freshman were swept into Congress last fall to do something about the country’s $14 trillion debt. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has put forward a credible budget proposal to tackle the problem. A showdown awaits between President Obama and congressional Republicans over the debt limit. And it’s now been 770 days since the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate passed a budget resolution.
While it’s certainly not as sexy to write about the debt, it is arguably more important.