Amy Menefee

What’s messier and more shameless than candidates campaigning to save the economy? Media coverage of that economy – the one all the candidates want to “stimulate.” The media coverage that’s driving people’s votes.

Despite journalists and politicians’ gloomy outlook, two-thirds of Americans say their own finances are “secure,” according to a recent Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.

That’s surprising when you consider the media’s take on the economy, where the push is very real for a big-spending, “stimulating” candidate. Washington must “ride to the rescue,” as one Washington Post columnist put it.

A perfect example: while two-thirds of Americans surveyed said they were doing fine, leave it to the press to find a fellow who’s out of work and about to lose his home – and get his view of the economy and the presidential race.

Heading into the Florida primary, The Washington Post reported January 27 on Florida resident Ivan Toledo, saying he is “looking to the presidential candidates for answers.”

Answers to what? Upon closer inspection, the careful reader learns that at one point he quit a job because he wanted something different – without another lined up. With a baby on the way, Toledo and his wife refinanced their house to take out a home equity loan.

If you’ve been paying any attention to media coverage lately, you could guess the Toledo’s got an adjustable-rate mortgage. Yes, that 1.5-percent teaser rate “ended up being too good to be true,” he said. Now it’s up to 8.7 percent. They’re still in the house, but they’re not even attempting to make payments.

This is a familiar scenario to journalists, who have used people like Toledo to vilify lenders and portray an apocalyptic recession in the United States. A Business & Media Institute study showed the media blaming lenders for debt six times more often than borrowers.

The bright spot is Toledo is taking classes to gain skills for a better job. In the meantime, though, he and many others are waiting for a presidential candidate to come along and offer the best deal.

And the best deal is … well, that depends. Do you want “free” money in your pocket?

More people told Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg pollsters in mid-January 2008 they would prefer tax cuts to health care and education spending, when it came to economic “stimulus.”

Amy Menefee

Amy Menefee is Director of Communications for Americans for Prosperity.
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