Posted by: kalmeida317 | December 15, 2010

Political Agenda Setting

The recent debate regarding the extension of the Bush tax cuts got me thinking about an issue that very strongly influences politics, media bias and public perception. The issue I am referring to is the increasingly prominent concern about the misuse of Agenda Setting.

Agenda Setting as proposed by professors Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw is a theory that states that the media has the power to facilitate “salience transfer” (The evolution of Agenda Setting Research, 1993), which is the transfer of media agendas to public agendas. This essentially means that not only does the media distribute information, it also plays a huge role in shaping public priorities.

Before President Obama caved into agreeing to the tax cuts he was quoted saying that “tax cuts would lead to a $900 billion addition to the deficit”. On the other hand the Republicans were advocating trickledown economics and preaching that no taxes should be increased during a time of recession.

My question however is where is the information? Why have these issues become philosophical arguments that are forcing people to pick one agenda over the other? I have looked extensively to find a non-biased explanation of the taxation issue and it’s pertinence to the national budget deficit. I am extremely confident at this point that no such publicly available document exists.

With all the integration of communication mediums and the increase of exposure there is still a severe lack of factual data. Making decisions on taxes, financial resources and national expenditure requires economical analysis and mathematical data, not the regurgitation of irrelevant messaging.

The financial crisis was caused as a result of excess spending and the blatant disregard of fiscal prudence. Why then is this new proposed plan to boost the economy based on encouraging people to spend? Why do these Agendas not seem to be aligned with reality?

-Karan Almeida

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