Jeb Bladine: Public needs more nonbreaking news

Is health care a serious problem in America? How about the national debt and budget deficit?

Apparently not, looking only at the dearth of news about those and other significant issues. Of course, it’s the nature of news itself that keeps our national attention riveted to political trivia — a classic case of fiddling while Rome burns.

Gallop Poll regularly asks Americans to name the country’s greatest problem. Since May of this year, the response of immigration or illegal aliens has jumped from 10 percent to 21 percent. That increase has been driven by national media and the Trump Administration.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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Interestingly, however, in those same six months the response of health care as our greatest problem rose from 4 percent to 11 percent, that despite near-disappearance of that issue from the news of 2018. Only 2 percent of respondents cited the national debt, although that climbs the priority scale when people are asked to give multiple responses.

There’s an abundance of information about all major challenges facing America, but it’s difficult to focus on them while engaged in an incessant debate about whether the president should go to prison for paying off porn stars and bunnies. I’m not saying media should ignore Donald Trump’s obvious lies, but how about an occasional wrap-up of his most recent offenses instead of minute-by-minute reports and analysis of every Tweet?

Meanwhile, when the Commonwealth Fund ranked health care in major developed nations, the top three were United Kingdom, Australia and The Netherlands. The United States was at the bottom, accompanied by comments about our lack of insurance coverages, administrative inefficiency and underperforming primary care system.

“Together,” wrote The Atlantic, “these reasons help explain why U.S. life expectancy has, for the first time since the 1960s, recently gone down for two years in a row.”

The national debt utterly lacks entertainment value for national news media, so it remains mostly out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Just to update you on the basics, that debt is $21 trillion and rising, and huge annual deficits are estimated to increase another $12-plus trillion over the next decade.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts interest on the national debt will be our third largest budget category by 2026. That squeezes out key investments, leaves us unable to respond to crises, and affects wages and human services across the land.

Americans, it seems to me, could use a more regular dose of nonbreaking news.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.


Don Dix

As long as the same 'representatives' are returned to D.C. term after term, the news will always follow a similar path. Nancy Pelosi's ideas and causes haven't changed -- nor have those of Mitch McConnel. In fact, at this time 78 members of Congress have been in office since Bill Clinton was president. John Conyers Jr., who retired last year, had been in Congress since Lyndon Johnson's presidency (1965).

Finger-pointing and deflection long ago replaced working for what is best for the country, and have become how to get elected. And the media is 'used' to rile up their base with 'sensational stories'.

From my perspective, term limits would change the landscape considerably. Fresh ideas, the energy of newness, and an end to business as usual would help keep Congress actually doing the business of the people -- and possibly put a stop to the nasty in-fighting that is the daily headlines.

12 years in the Senate, and 8 years in the House -- and then go find a 'real job'. Those short terms may not lead to a cushy position after service, but so what? If a member of Congress got into politics to end up as a CEO, their heart wasn't with the people anyway.

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