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Can't we add another easy and necessary thing to reporting – numeracy?

2 min read

I watched Republican Senator Bill Cassidy (Louisiana) yesterday on CNN’s State of the Union, and he made a case against Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid Relief package.  Pressed to explain his differences, Sen. Cassidy said it entailed “too much money” and as support said only that the bill provides: “$112 million for the San Francisco transit system.”   (“Now, where did that come from?” he added as a dig at Speaker Pelosi).  With that one $112 million transit spending example, Sen. Cassidy went on to describe the Covid relief bill as “a joke,” that “disproportionately benefits one party,”  with Democrats “talking something off the top,”  “a Trojan horse that actually injures this country,” something that will “ignite inflation and chew up middle class savings,”  and “this can be the Trojan horse that destroys the future for families.”  Wow.

Dana Bash, sitting in for Jake Tapper, mostly nodded her head and asked: “Has the president or anyone in the White House given you any indication at all that they are open to any negotiations?”   Later, “armed” with this bogus point, Ms. Bash actually said to Democratic Senator Chris Coons: “[T]alking is big . . .  But talking is one thing, but actually making concessions and deals on something like this is another thing.  And [Sen. Cassidy] is saying that there was no real effort on that.  That is fair, don’t you think?”  

Umm, folks, $112 million dollars (smart or not) represents approximately 0.006% of the $1.9 trillion dollar Covid relief bill. 0.006%!! If that is the only thing Sen. Cassidy and Republicans can come up with, well then they have dick-shit nothing to say.    

Understandably, almost no ordinary person can really understand what $1.9 trillion means — and $112 million sounds like a lot too.  But $1.9 trillion is $1,900,000,000,000.  It so f’ing big that it is absurd to be objecting to any $112 mililion of it.   And the professional press really has to be able to explain that (it isn't hard to do) and incorporate it into to its Q&A’s.  

Worse — Sen. Bill Cassidy is on the air as one of ten supposed, and “disappointed,” so-called  “bipartisan” Republican Senators!  But the truth is they offered about 1/3 of Biden’s proposals, continued to be part of a Republican filibuster, and — as can be seen above — expressed faux and hysterical outrage about 0.006% of the package. 

All of this is a plain joke.  The press must stop carrying water for disingenuous, bad faith Republican actors.

P.S.:  anyone interested in reading about the Republicans’ manufactured obsession with SF transit funds can click on the link here.  

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