Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Weekend Editorial Roundup

May 17, 2010 | Other Spending

Here are the highlights from this weekend’s editorials on fiscal and budget policy:

The Chicago Tribune noted that for all the attention paid to bank bailouts, the most costly government action during the 2008 financial crisis will be the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Pointing to CBO numbers that suggested the cost of the move would be a total of $389 billion by 2019, they criticized the defeat of an amendment that would have cut the government's ties to both entities. They also said that the Democrats were "so busy hammering the banks," that they weren't willing to deal with Fannie and Freddie yet.

The Washington Post also brought up Fannie and Freddie, stating that while they both need serious reform or perhaps elimination, the amendment "was too vague about who or what would provide liquidity after they were gone."  Nonetheless, The Post praised the amendment for putting the spotlight on the issue of the cost to the taxpayer of the two big housing market players.  They also said that the flaws in the old structure, such as weak capital standards and the propensity for Fannie and Freddie to take on too much risk, should not be repeated.

The New York Times praised Defense Secretary Robert Gates for trying to achieve savings, albeit modest ones, in the Defense Department.  Characterizing the defense budgets of the last decade as a "feeding frenzy", the paper applauded Gates' desire to look over the entire defense budget and determine what is necessary and what is not.  They noted Gates' questioning of the need for certain military vehicles and his desire for savings even in military health care, obviously a politically sensitive issue.  The Times praised this move nonetheless, stating that with the current and future budget troubles, "everyone must share the burden."

The Boston Globe supported President Obama's choice of Donald Berwick to run Medicare and Medicaid.  Noting Berwick's important role in finding savings in the two programs, The Globe stated that he has been "a leader in promoting innovative ways to improve the quality of care, thereby cutting the costs of medicine."  They also criticized Senate Republicans for going after Berwick politically, saying that they were picking the wrong target to re-start the debate about the recently passed health care law.