Week In News: Federal Budget
LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
JAMES FALLOWS: Linda, nice to talk to you here from the other side of the world.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
WERTHEIMER: We will get to China, but first, we just heard from Larry Abramson on the Wisconsin budget battle and the battle over the federal budget now moves to the Senate. Does anything about this year's negotiations strike you as different from years past?
FALLOWS: So when you have so much of the debate about such a small sheer of what the government takes and spends, it makes it a different kind of debate from what we've had before.
WERTHEIMER: And it seems to me not a particularly meaningful debate and just sort of a lot of bluster about something that may be completely unlikely to happen.
FALLOWS: Yes. I mean, there's the practical fact that with a still Democratic-controlled Senate and a Democratic White House, these cuts are very unlikely to go through in their current form. And also, I think in historical retrospect, we'll see an election campaign in 2010 that was largely dominated by talk about the deficit and this great fury of getting things passed of the House recently. But it is, again, most of what the federal government does is not touched by these proposals, and so it does seem a mismatch of energy and even vitriol and practical effects.
WERTHEIMER: Now, I'm changing the subject here to technology. I know there's one technology story, which obviously caught your eye this week, as a magazine person. Apple has decided to allow something called in-app subscriptions to newspapers and magazines from their mobile devices.
FALLOWS: The catch was that Apple was going to take 30 percent of all the revenue that came in this way and also control the information about the subscribers, which, for the publications, would be a real challenge. So almost immediately after Apple's announcement, Google came up with a plan where it was going to, like, charge 10 percent for subscriptions sold through its Android system and also let the publishers have control over the subscriber data. So there is an interesting battle going on with, I think, real implications for how, as I said, journalism is able to get revenue in the new online age.
WERTHEIMER: As I mentioned, you are in Beijing right now researching a new book. What's the news from China?
FALLOWS: And so, while it's been important for the U.S. to look to Chinese high-speed rail as an example of what can be done, there's a lot of doubts inside China now about what actually has been done.
WERTHEIMER: Jim, thank you very much.
FALLOWS: Thank you, Linda. My pleasure.
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