Media, Biden Admin Team Up on “Race to the Bottom”
Documents produced by the Treasury Department in FOIA litigation with Energy Policy Advocates lay out the apparent manufacture of the Administration’s “race to the bottom” narrative deployed to support increasing the U.S. corporate income tax rate.
These records bring to mind the White House’s recent behind-the-scenes enlistment of a helpful press corps to change the tone of reportage on economic performance and inflation, to one of cheerleading and insistence on lowering expectations — after the WH had private meetings with certain media figures to bemoan the sudden drop in favorable coverage, a frenzy of print and broadcast commentary declared that Biden is being unfairly covered, particularly on the economy.
And the reversal was particularly clumsy on economic coverage, too, with a cascade of suggestions that maybe the surge in inflation isn’t actually regressive and most harmful on the poor after all and, come to think, inflation might be a “good thing“.
These docs further suggest how and why such things happen between the media and administrations with which the press as a whole typically sympathize.
The “race to the bottom” phrase (often attributed originally, if in a different context, to Justice Louis Brandeis) in support of Biden tax increases popped as a fashionable talking point in March. Providing a window into the process of an administration-media joint here in a March 14, 2021 email we see a Treasury official passing along to colleagues a note about his work to obtain desirable coverage with Washington Post White House economics reporter Jeff Stein:
Stein drops the phrase seven times in his news item.
Secretary Yellen then deployed the term in a March 23 House Financial Services Committee hearing.
Two weeks later, Yellen gave a speech on April 5 speech rolling out her part of the pincer movement, followed by a WSJ oped published the evening of April 7 and run (and put in perspective by the editors) in the April 8 paper.
The WaPo news story that the writer hurried to give the Administration a heads up about, when his editors moved it up, indeed used the phrase 7 times…twice more than the Secretary used it in her WSJ piece even though it was her thrust (she submitted it with the title “Corporate tax is a race to the bottom”). That’s service.
(Looks like an interesting b5).