Covering the Campaign and White House

Blog Post
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

On the latest Facing the Future, I was joined by Concord Coalition Policy Director Josh Gordon and then by Eli Stokols, a staff writer and White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Gordon discussed the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the impact various levels of federal debt could have on the economy and thus average per-person income. Stokols shared what it is like being a journalist on the campaign trail and in the White House press pool.

Stokols said, when sharing what it is like to travel from state-to-state covering the primary and general election as a journalist, “it’s a lot of fun just getting to see national politics playing out on that smaller scale, seeing voters actually get to interact with the candidates, ask them questions.” 

He said the presidential election cycle has many iterations, from the beginning where everyone has a chance to the final sprint of the general election. 

Stokols said reporting on President Trump constantly keeps him on his toes because stories or circumstances can change quickly, and he has to be aware and discerning of statements made by the President that may come in via social media. “If you write a story … you better publish it because nothing holds,” he said. You cannot sit on a story for three days, “it’s going to be onto something else.” 

Because of that reality, the White House press pool can have little advanced notice of events at times. “No one knows what will happen, but after something happens, you’ll see a lot of great reporting citing various administration sources explaining or painting a picture of how it happened.” 

On the new analysis by the CBO, Gordon said “One of the key points they try to make … is that if you have large debt growing over the long term, you will wind up having a slower economy,” Gordon said. “One of the things they have started to do more recently is to try and put that into perspective.” 

He said CBO projects the growth in the long-term debt under different scenarios and then how those different scenarios result in higher or lower per-capita GNP -- a number the CBO uses as a stand-in for average income. “That is helpful because it gives us a more bite-sized number to wrap our heads around.” 

Hear more on “Facing the Future.” I host the program each week on WKXL, NHTalkRadio.com (N.H.), and it is also available via podcast. Join me and my guests as we discuss issues relating to national fiscal policy with budget experts, industry leaders, elected officials and candidates for public office. Past broadcasts are available here. You can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or through RSS.