It's been fashionable around certain areas of the blogosphere to single out certain New York Times articles and say, "See, they're finally trying to be fair, now that Howell Raines is gone." I don't really know whether he has anything to do with it, but it does seem as if the reporting has undergone a sharp change in direction in a short time. For instance, the Times has been "flooding the zone" (in Raines' favorite phrase) to prove that George Bush's tax cuts have been devastating for state budgets. (Though it's never explained _why_ the federal government should be funding the states.) We hear horror stories about people devastated, communities decimated, and children weeping in the streets.
But, now, in the post-Raines era, lo and behold, a story which is actually balanced, pointing out that the budget cuts aren't extensive at all.
Fire marshals will no longer investigate most car fires. There will be 3,500 fewer police officers compared to three years ago. Inmates on Rikers Island will not get intensive drug counseling. And most city libraries are now open five days, instead of six.It's nice to see, when reading the hysteria of Bob Herbert and Paul Krugman on the editorial page about the Republican plan to starve babies and puppies, some actual perspective. Spending, despite all the drastic, mean-spirited Republican tax cuts, is actually increasing in New York. As it is in most of the states with budget crises. The real crisis isn't that taxes are being cut, but that there is never an appetite for cutting any government program, ever.
It is hardly the kind of thank you that New Yorkers might expect after being asked to pay higher income, sales and property taxes in the fiscal year that starts Tuesday. But despite those cuts, New York City government will offer an array of services that is still more generous than it was early in Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's tenure, when New York faced its last major fiscal crunch. And the cuts agreed to this week by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the City Council are just a pittance compared to the wholesale reduction of basic government operations that occurred during the mid-1970's fiscal crisis.