Power of the Press

A few posts down, I ran the From the Editor page of my magazine’s new ish. In it, there’s a quote from the director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, whom I praise for trying to raise the alarm about the false numbers in the Medicare prescription benefit bill:

“Two equally plausible scenarios for the future of healthcare costs yield Medicare and Medicaid being either 11 % of GDP–half the size of the current federal government–or over 20% of GDP–larger than the current federal government. So there’s an enormous certainty out there but the trends in the long term, I think, are the central issue. There’s no question about that.”

I gave the page to my associate editor, and told her, “Here’s my vituperative rant for the month. Sometimes I get so vituperative that I make typos.”

She proofread my page, found no typos, and said, “I don’t think it’s a certainty.”

“Hmm?”

“That part about how there’s an enormous certainty. I don’t think he meant to say that.”

“Maybe he was being ironic,” I said. She frowned.

Still, best to double-check, since the quote did come from a transcript, and not a prepared statement. So I called the CBO’s communications department. I got bumped over to someone’s voice mail, and figured that I’d have to let it go as is.

Y’know the funny thing? The CBO got back to me within an hour, asked to see the exact passage in an e-mail, and called back within minutes to let me know that Mr. Holtz-Eakin’s words had been mis-transcribed and that he meant “uncertainty”.

I’m just amazed at how quickly they responded to my request, especially given that my magazine doesn’t exactly have a household name. So, additional kudos to the CBO! Keep watchdoggin’!

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