U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise.

In the interest of “exposing” what he calls a “Tax-and-Spend Spree,” U.S. Rep Steve Scalise of Jefferson Parish has sent out an email highlighting a provision in the Democrats’ proposed "Build Back Better" legislation which would provide favorable tax treatment to encourage hiring of journalists.

There are valid reasons for Republican concern about the Build Back Better proposal, including questions about whether Democrats are disguising the true costs by making the benefits temporary in their legislation, betting that they will be renewed later. We tend to believe the latter.

And Scalise is House whip for the Republican Party, so his world view is rooted in the GOP’s traditional support for limited government.

The journalism tax credits would cost an estimated $1.67 billion over ten years, which is a significant sum but amounts to about 50 cents per year per American.

But let's take a look under the hood of Scalise’s recent email.

“Whip Scalise is committed to exposing President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ giveaways to radical special interest groups and the far-left provisions buried in their 2,135-page big government tax-and-spending spree. There are many ‘hidden gems’ that Democrats are handing the socialists, and Whip Scalise will be highlighting them throughout the next few weeks.”

It’s great to see that Scalise sees himself “exposing” something “hidden,” which is what journalists do every day.

But in this case, the journalism provision of the Build Back Better legislation is not hidden. It’s right there online for all the world to see. Scalise’s email even includes a link to Section 138516.

It’s also not a “far left provision.” The concept, which was once proposed as a separate piece of legislation, had bipartisan support because Democrats and Republicans both understand that reliable coverage of local issues informs voters and supports democracy.

The provision also doesn’t hand a “hidden gem” to “socialists.” The government offers favorable treatment to all sorts of industries when it is in the national interest, from steelmakers to pharmaceutical companies to energy producers.

We admit we bring some bias to the issue, as The Times-Picayune and The Advocate would benefit from favorable tax treatment. But we’ll be fine either way, since we have loyal print and digital subscribers in three of Louisiana’s biggest markets — New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette — plus a statewide audience online.

Every month, about a thousand new digital subscribers sign up with and

The more needy beneficiaries would be the smaller communities in Louisiana, which are in danger of becoming news deserts as goliaths like Facebook and Google sponge up the ad dollars that used to sustain local news coverage.

Many of those communities are served by small weekly newspapers, some still family-owned.

Maybe those smaller newsrooms are infiltrated by socialists, as Scalise suggests.

If so, Louisiana has a lot of socialists covering school board meetings, gathering the names of honor roll students, writing up wedding announcements and church notes, publishing public notices for local agencies, checking the lawsuits at the parish courthouse, disseminating information to help police catch criminals, and attending high school sporting events, even in the cold and the rain.

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