Mainstream reporters have  spent so many years square pegging round holes—crediting Bill Clinton alone for the boom of the late 90s, blaming Bush alone for the crash of the late 00s, praising Obama’s intelligence, etc.—that they may not even recognize their own nonsense.

Take Jim Puzzanghera in the Los Angeles Times, who begins his story today with a textbook Butterfield Paradox:

Years of low tax rates and rising federal spending, amplified by the devastating economic effect of the Great Recession, have driven the U.S. borrowing tab to more than $16 trillion from less than $1 trillion in 1981.

To Puzzanghera, those “devastating” economic effects are not the result of the $16 trillion debt; they’re a cause.

…On top of that, the George W. Bush-era tax cuts were set to expire at the end of 2012, along with a two-year payroll tax break designed to stimulate the economy. To help reduce the deficit, President Obama pushed Congress to allow some of those tax cuts to expire.

I’m sending this last graf to the Museum of Nonsense.  In the land of Puzzanghera, Bush’s tax cuts raised the deficit while Obama’s payroll-tax reduction stimulated the economy.

But wait, it gets even better.

Kevin C. Smith, owner of Smith-Kandal Insurance/Real Estate in Brawley, Calif., which specializes in sales of farms, said the nation must start reducing its growing debt….

But he’s not happy with the recent tax increases, which have hit his business hard.

Net income is down nearly 30% this year because higher capital gains tax rates have led to fewer sales of large farms and commercial property in the Imperial Valley.

“Our phone doesn’t even ring from people who want to sell anymore,” he said.

That demonstrates the danger of trying to attack the debt problem too aggressively while the economy is struggling to recover from the recession.

Ah, no, Jim, it demonstrates exactly what everyone with common sense predicted would happen when the so-called “rich” who hitherto weren’t paying their “fair share” had to write bigger checks to pay their taxes.  It also demonstrates why the economy is going to continue “struggling to recover from the recession.”

Newspaper editors would never send a sports reporter who knows nothing about baseball to cover the World Series.  Too bad they don’t have the same standards for the economy.