Wednesday, August 6, 2008

GAO Predicts 50% Decline in CNMI Economy as a Result of Federalization

The headline isn't mine; I borrowed it from Special Legal Counsel Howard Willens. It heads his letter in Appendix XII of the Government Accountability Office report on the impact of federal immigration law. The letter is the CNMI response to the draft report, which he predicts would result in that headline.

The Saipan Tribune decided to use the acronymic and more catchy GAO: Local GDP could plunge instead but agreeably used this lead: "Pointing to findings they say will harm the CNMI's economy, Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and officials in his administration are blasting a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office that details several scenarios on the impact of the pending federal takeover of local immigration rules and includes projections that suggest it could slash the Commonwealth's gross domestic product by 50 percent or more."

The Marianas Variety? They went with GAO downplays Fitial’s economic disaster scenario.

So which is correct? Strangely enough, both papers can justify their headlines. It's just a political decision: what they want to emphasize.

I was thinking about this last night, but a 100+ page report gives me a PDF headache and I needed a good night's sleep. It's the best they could do, I suppose, but there are so many qualifications I've come to a familiar cynical conclusion: pretty worthless.

Save yourself some time and just read the title: "Managing Potential Economic Impact of Applying U.S. Immigration Law Requires Coordinated Federal Decisions and Additional Data".

The scenarios are based on 'all things remaining equal', i.e. ignoring the increasing minimum wage, high-flying energy prices and the CNMI's low-flying economy. Those factors have too much influence on the outcome to be set aside.

The Commonwealth letter and GAO response to it in Appendix XII are entertaining and informative if you've got the time. Otherwise, read both papers and the first page of the report. Glutton for punishment? Here's the link.


Lil' Hammerhead said...

I thought the different take by both papers was funny as well. I had to reread both just to make sure the stories were about the same report.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

That is what is good about having two (more if you count PDN, PTimes etc) local news sources. We can throw stuff into the washer, hit the spin cycle button and enjoy the fresh clean smell of lemon fresh Joy.

What humors me is to see the various blogger factions running along behind, quoting this one as 'good reporting' because it follows their party line or as yellow journalism because it reflects another view.

They have their "I'm a serious thinker" button on the lapel and a "kick-Me" sign on their backs. HEHEHHH

cactus said...

The Variety and Tribune frequently have completely differently takes on the same events, often on issues having nothing to do with their politics. I recall one day, just after a typhoon (I think it was Nabi), one paper's headline was "Nabi slams Marianas," while the other's was "Nabi spares Marianas." Another time, after a murder trial, one said "Taitano not guilty of murder," while the other said "Taitano guilty of manslaughter." Both accurately reflected the verdict.

There is more than one side to the truth, and more than one way of looking at it. Whatever their many faults, we are lucky to have two daily newspapers of more or less equal prominence to remind us of that fact, especially two that are independent and locally owned. Very few places in the US can say that anymore.

KAP said...

As Freud probably didn't say "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

They both slant news occasionally, but not as a habit and I wonder how much of it subconscious. Doesn't really matter if you're reading both.

The same story with headlines from three 'liberal' rags:

-Washington Post: "Obama softens on Iraq Withdrawal Timeline"
-New York Times: " Obama Strives to Retain Some Flexibility on His Iraq Policy "
-LA Times: Obama "Restates Plan to Exit Iraq in 16 Months"

KAP said...

Where credit is due: the headlines courtesy of Kevin Drum in The Washington Monthly.