This week, congressional Republicans seized on a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showing the limited short-term stimulative effects of the Democrats' proposed rescue package. It's also led to widespread media coverage undermining the White House's arguments about the benefits of a stimulus plan.
There is, however, a problem. The CBO report, as it's been described, doesn't exist.
It appears that the preliminary, incomplete numbers put together by the CBO were distributed to a small handful of lawmakers in both parties earlier in the week. Someone (Republican congressional offices) then passed the misleading data onto the AP, which predictably ran with the incomplete numbers, telling the public that it "will take years before an infrastructure spending program proposed by President-elect Barack Obama will boost the economy."
Other major media outlets quickly followed, and voila, Republicans had a talking point: "Boehner and other Republican aides roamed the Capitol press galleries, flogging the CBO numbers."
Obviously, congressional Republicans were less concerned about reality than undermining an economic rescue package. But as DDay noted, let's not brush past media culpability: "It's pretty clear that the media has no ability to or interest in understanding this stuff, because then they wouldn't have their precious 'conflict.' So they regurgitate whatever some GOP staffer feeds them, just to spice things up."
It's like they can't help themselves.