The talking heads on cable TV and major network news shows, who make lucrative livings routinely interrupting and talking over each other and their guests on a daily basis, swooned like Scarlett O’Hara on a hot day at Tara over the lively back and forth banter broadcast live Tuesday in the only face-to-face debate between Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine and Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence.

These beltway media mavens, whose smug attitude of entitlement says they know everything about politics until political reality rolls in to prove them wrong, all contribute to the embarrassingly low level of confidence the public at large has in America’s hallowed Fourth Estate, as shows is the current state of mass media.

The New York Times, whose reputation as the national newspaper of record has shifted downward, did get it right Wednesday, when the Gray Lady said substance is more important than style. The critique of yesterday’s vice presidential debate was aimed at the Twitterverse journalists who seem incapable of evaluating the plans and policies put forward by either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in proper context of how they might work in reality compared with whether or not they represent good theater.

Sen. Kaine, a lawyer, was dinged for being “over prepared” and for his prosecutorial tact toward another lawyer, Mike Pence. But the Hoosier governor, who showed just how poorly he could defend the vast arsenal of lies and outright fabrications Donald Trump has uttered with any intelligence, got the echo chambers nod as winner for his calm, statesman-like demeanor.

The day after the two candidates engaged each other in a way Hillary and the Donald have yet to do but still could do with two more debates to go, the Press and Journal in Middletown, Pennsylvania, showed what four Penn State economists had to say about how each candidates respective plans would impact the nation if put into place.


Nihal Bayraktar, associate professor of economics at Penn State Harrisburg got the ball rolling by saying the U.S. economy is doing quite well, especially coming out of the financial crisis or “Great Recession,” an understanding that’s the polar opposite of the hell hole Donald Trump says is the current state of the nation. “America’s economy is the strongest in the rich world,” she said, adding, “His [Trump’s] diagnoses are wrong. The way he explains the current economic conditions does not reconcile with the facts.” She said she doesn’t know how Trump’s plans to cut spending while drastically cutting taxes is going to happen,” based on the Donald’s plans to cut 1 percent of federal spending per year, except for Social Security and the military. “He doesn’t have any clear economic policies, and he doesn’t explain much,” she said.

While Donald Trump is promising to lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent and eliminate the federal estate tax, Bayraktar notes his income tax plan assure top earners will gain much more than other groups. “What he’s promising will cause more pain with little growth,” she said, citing projections of how the federal debt will grow dramatically more under the Donald’s policies. She contrasts the Republican plans with Democratic plans offered by Hillary Clinton, which calls for an increase in corporate taxes and closing tax loopholes that allow the wealthy to avoid taxes. Jobs created under Clinton’s plans, she said, would come from middle level income earners. “Most of the jobs are created by the middle income group,” she said, popping Trump’s ballon that top earners create jobs.”

Health care

Sabri Yilmaz, instructor in economics at Penn State, said federal government costs would go up under plans from both Trump and Clinton,but the Donald’s plan, which is to repeal and replace Obamacare, will cost about $500 billion, $200 billion more than Hillary’s other changes including an expansion of Medicaid. Because Trump’s policies are unclear, Yilmaz said it’s harder to estimate, making an apples-to-apples comparison impossible. On the topic of Social Security, both candidates say they’ll leave it as is. Yilmaz appears to have neglected to say Social Security can be solved for future generations by removing the cap on earnings, currently set at about $118,000.


Indrit Hoxha, associate professor economics, said the candidates have a wide gulf between them on education. Hillary wants to provide free community college and “debt-free” public universities, which would mean an additional $700 billion in education spending, which could result in more students enrolling in college who will never finish. Mrs. Clinton wants to halt the “school to prison pipeline” for certain communities, a laudable goal tied to her plans to revamp criminal justice policies. Donald Trump’s educational ideas, Hoxha said, calls for the end of Common Core standards—policy standards backed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich—along with downsizing or eliminating the federal Department of Education. Meanwhile, the federal government should not be in the business of profiting from student loans.

Hoxha cited an analysis provided by Moody’s Analytics, under Mark Zandi, Arizona Sen. John McCain’s economic guru in 2008, that says lower taxes as a remedy for providing more factories, more hiring and more jobs by Donald Trump would lead to far fewer jobs to the economy, perhaps even losing jobs at times while Hillary plan would lead to far more jobs.

International trade

Clinton and Trump are maybe closer on international trade than any other subject, David Buehler, an expert on international trade and assistant professor of economics, said. Each candidate opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership and understand the faults of the North American Free Trade Agreement, he said. “Trump frequently stresses “the negative aspects of imports without mentioning the positives,” he said. Buehler noted that over the past few years, the percentage of foreign born residents in the United States has crept back to where it has been historically. “Overall, immigration tends to have a very positive effect on growth,” he said, a notion foreign to Trump and Pence, who couldn’t answer how millions of immigrants would be sent home.

Fifth Estate To The Rescue

Analysis like this has gone lacking in the horse-race coverage by Fourth Estate beltway pundits who have lathered up voters with misguided or misleading information such that both candidates are thought to be the worst two prevented to the American electorate. It’s unfortunate that experts like these four Penn State economic experts, whose opinions and research should be the substance of discussions instead of the personal judgments by mass media on style points, are not the bread and butter of daily news broadcasts.

It looks like Fifth Estate reporters, the kind Plunderbund offers its readers on a daily basis, just might be the right medicine for what ails America.


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