Fox News' dishonest campaign against Planned Parenthood took a new turn when the network promoted its own deeply misleading "Taxpayer Calculator" purporting to show how much an average American taxpayer has contributed to the health care provider over the past decade.
On the July 27 editions of Fox News' America's Newsroom and Happening Now, correspondent Shannon Bream continued her network's smear campaign against Planned Parenthood Federation of America centered around a deceptively-edited video alleging to show PPFA employees negotiating the sale of "fetal body parts for medical research." Bream promoted the efforts of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) to strip federal funding for the organization before referring viewers to a so-called "Taxpayer Calculator" created by the network to show people how much they have contributed to Planned Parenthood over the past decade. From America's Newsroom:
BREAM: Over the past 10 years, it's estimated Planned Parenthood has received more than $4 million [sic] in federal and state government funding. Here's a look at what you, the taxpayer, have contributed based on your income level. Now, if you want a more specific estimate on just how much you've given to Planned Parenthood, head to FoxNews.com and click on "Taxpayer Calculator." Martha.
MACCALLUM: That's going to get a lot of people's attention.
BREAM: It will.
First, and perhaps most egregiously, the on-screen graphic Fox shows during both segments falsely claims that Planned Parenthood received $4.3 billion-worth of federal funding "over 10 years." According to the "Taxpayer Calculator" Bream referenced during the segment, Fox News does not actually know how much public support comes from either federal or state sources (emphasis added):
Planned Parenthood and its affiliates have received $4.3 billion in government funding over the last ten years, according to the group's annual reports. Their government funding comes from both federal and state governments. We do not know exactly how much of Planned Parenthood's funding comes from the federal government.
According to Planned Parenthood's most recent annual report, the organization received $528.4 million from "Government Health Services Grants & Reimbursements," which amounted to just over 46 percent of its operational revenue as of June 30, 2014. Some of this funding came in the form of federal Medicaid reimbursements for health care services for low-income Americans, while other funds came from various local, state, and federal grants -- the Hyde Amendment "excludes abortion from the comprehensive health care services provided to low-income people by the federal government through Medicaid."
After incorrectly assuming that all public money received by Planned Parenthood comes from the federal government, Fox News staff then based their taxpayer contribution calculations on the proportion of federal tax revenue derived from different income tax brackets. Federal income tax rates are higher than state and local income tax rates. In fact, seven states levy no income taxes at all while two others tax only capital gains and dividends, not traditional wages. Fox's sloppily constructed "average taxpayer share" does not reflect reality -- it's simply the highest estimate the network's research team could produce.
Finally, Fox's investigation of Planned Parenthood's revenue and the American taxpayer's contribution to that revenue provides no useful context for the viewer. In 2014, the federal government spent nearly 900 times more than Planned Parenthood collected from all government sources in 10 years; the $4.3 billion price tag Fox highlighted represents a miniscule portion of total government spending over the same period. Likewise, the 10-year burden shouldered by Fox's "average taxpayer" represents a tiny fraction of their total income over that period. According to Fox News, a taxpayer with earnings in excess of $2.5 million over a decade would contribute only about $40 annually. Meanwhile, the average taxpayer, with a median household income of roughly $52,000 per year, would contribute only about $1.50 per year to Planned Parenthood, according to Fox's own calculations.
The deceptive "Taxpayer Calculator" is a continuation of Fox News' long campaign of deceit against Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the work performed by the organization (97 percent) is not related to abortion services. Fox has demonstrated on many occasions that it has no clue what Planned Parenthood does or the vital services it provides for millions of men and women every year; including cancer screening and preventative treatment, contraceptive services, family planning, STI/STD screening, and assorted other women's health services.
A Fox News report on the so-called "unintended consequences" of Seattle, Washington's municipal minimum wage increase included the unsubstantiated claim that better pay is encouraging workers to work less so that they stay in poverty and continue receiving government benefits. This report fits the network's anti-minimum wage, poor-shaming narrative, but ignores the many benefits of increasing the minimum wage.
In June 2014, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved legislation increasing the city's minimum wage to $11 per hour for most employees on April 1, 2015 and to $15 per hour over the course of a 3-to-7-year phase-in period. The decision was praised by many groups like the National Employment Law Project (NELP) as a necessary step toward alleviating inequality and lifting low-wage workers out of poverty.
On the July 22 editions of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Happening Now, and Special Report, correspondent Dan Springer reported that Seattle is facing the "unintended consequences" of increasing its minimum wage. The worst of these consequences, he claims, is that some employees "make too much money to stay on certain welfare programs" and are requesting fewer hours because "the raises [are] pushing them over the income threshold and out of welfare programs like subsidized food, child care, and rent." In all three segments, Springer's evidence for this alleged poverty trap was an interview with Seattle-based radio host Jason Rantz, not with actual recipients who rely on government assistance.
Other so-called "consequences" of the increased minimum wage included restaurants raising prices and requesting patrons not to tip their wait staff. Springer also cited a comic book store in San Francisco (not Seattle) which blames that city's increased minimum wage for its lack of profitability:
The core of Fox's claim that many low-income Americans would rather stay on anti-poverty relief programs than work fits the network's long-standing campaign to attack and shame low-income workers. It is also a variation of the discredited "Welfare Cliff" argument frequently pushed by the network.
In addition, the claim that increased wages are boosting restaurant prices, and thereby hurting tipped workers, is blatantly misleading and plays into Fox's misinformation campaign against the minimum wage. For example, Ivar's Salmon House, a Seattle icon, increased its menu prices and no longer accepts tips. But, according to NPR, the restaurant decided to institute the full $15 minimum wage three years ahead of schedule for its employees and now automatically prices gratuity into the bill, which thus far has not hurt sales or workers. Several restaurants, including one in the District of Columbia, have responded to calls for an increased minimum wage by unilaterally raising their own pay and informing customers that it is no longer necessary to tip wait staff.
Conservative media have claimed for more than a year that Seattle's minimum wage would hurt the city's restaurants and small businesses, but a March 17 report by The Seattle Times revealed little anxiety about the pay increase. In fact, according to data from the Seattle Office of Economic and Financial Analysis, the city witnessed a small spike in restaurant permit requests in the month before wage increases were set to go into effect but otherwise requests have remained relatively flat. Finally, according to a June 4 report by Common Dreams, several of the most outspoken local opponents of Seattle's minimum wage increase have actually opened new restaurants and increased staff hiring since the ordinance went into effect.
Fox host Sean Hannity allowed Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to walk back comments he made during a 2013 New York Times interview in which Kasich expressed his concern "about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor" emanating from his own party.
On the July 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity interviewed newly-declared Republican presidential candidate John Kasich at Ohio State University. Kasich used the softball interview to rehabilitate his conservative credentials while quietly disavowing his previous comments about the draconian agenda of GOP policymakers on Capitol Hill. When asked whether or not he truly believed "Republicans are waging war" on the poor, Kasich deflected the question by saying, "I don't know where that came from." Both then impugned the credibility of The New York Times while Kasich outlined the ways he plans to help poor and struggling Americans as president, including repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
HANNITY: Let me ask you, in the lead up to this, a lot of articles were written -- "Is John Kasich conservative enough?" Now, you were quoted in The New York Times as saying about your party, the Republican Party, that it's waging "a war on the poor." When you accepted Medicaid expansion, you went out there and you talked about St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he's not gonna ask me if I decreased the size of government but whether I helped the poor. Do you really believe Republicans are waging war on--
KASICH: No, no, but look, I don't know where that came from, but here's what I will tell you--
HANNITY: The New York Times.
KASICH: Yeah but, I-- Okay, well then it has to be true, okay? But here's the thing--
HANNITY: How dare I quote a New York paper.
In fact, during an interview with a New York Times reporter following his October 22, 2013 decision to accept Medicaid expansion in the state of Ohio under the ACA , Kasich expressed his concern that "there seems to be a war on the poor" coming from Republican ranks, including the stigma that low-income Americans are "shiftless and lazy":
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In his grand Statehouse office beneath a bust of Lincoln, Gov. John R. Kasich let loose on fellow Republicans in Washington.
"I'm concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor," he said, sitting at the head of a burnished table as members of his cabinet lingered after a meeting. "That if you're poor, somehow you're shiftless and lazy."
But few have gone further than Mr. Kasich in critiquing his party's views on poverty programs, and last week he circumvented his own Republican legislature and its Tea Party wing by using a little-known state board to expand Medicaid to 275,000 poor Ohioans under President Obama's health care law.
Kasich's remarks were widely reported at the time by numerous reputable news outlets, including New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. A November 1, 2013 column by Salon editor-at-large Joan Walsh pointed out the hypocrisy of Kasich lamenting his party's "war on the poor" while he simultaneously pushed an initiative to cut food assistance for up to 130,000 Ohio residents. Kasich's supposed willingness to take on the GOP's backwards anti-poverty agenda is often pointed to as an indication of his seriousness as a president candidate.
Fox's decision to let Kasich disavow his "war on the poor" comment is interesting, particularly in light of recent criticism from Heritage Foundation economist and Fox News contributor Stephen Moore that the governor's stance on poverty is "not an answer that conservatives are very persuaded by." Moore's intuition may be right. Kasich is a distant 11th -place contender in the Real Clear Politics polling average of the 16 declared Republican candidates. Kasich is also far behind in the crucial Fox News Primary and is in desperate need of positive exposure on the network.
Right-wing media outlets are hyping disclosures that health insurance premium rates could "skyrocket" for some plans in 2016 as proof of the Affordable Care Act's failure as a national policy, ignoring the fact that these reported rates are skewed and not final, and that previous "rate shock" predictions have fallen flat.
Fox News is on the defensive after Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said making Americans "work longer hours" was a central facet of his economic growth plan, claiming that Bush meant to say that the "Obama economy" is forcing Americans into part-time work. However, Fox's reasoning is based on faulty data and imaginary links between hours worked, productivity, and wages.
USA Today's editorial board published a misleading editorial comparing the economic crisis currently crippling Greece with the economic problems facing the United States, fear mongering that a similar crisis could happen "in as little as a decade." But economists have repeatedly dismissed the comparison, explaining that the U.S. economy is dissimilar from Greece and therefore unlikely to face a similar debt crisis.
On July 6, the editorial board published a piece claiming that the United States could find itself in a Greece-like economic and financial crisis as a result of America's debt and entitlements. According to the editorial board, "Greece is just further along" in its debt crisis however, Americans can expect a major shock "in as little as a decade."
Both countries have amassed large debts. Both are run by politicians eager to tell voters what they want to hear about national finances, not what they need to hear. Both have aging populations. Both are familiar with irresponsible banks lending to irresponsible borrowers. And both have been plunging headlong towards debt crises.
Greece is just further along.
Yet efforts to even modestly curtail health benefits, or any other "entitlement" programs for that matter, meet thunderous opposition from politicians, labor unions, senior citizen groups and others. Often, the objections are couched in language of people having "earned" their benefits after a lifetime of work.
In fact, they've earned a portion of their benefits. An average couple that retired in 2010, for instance, will receive $387,000 in Medicare benefits after having paid $122,000 in Medicare taxes while working. Social Security is in somewhat better shape but it, too, will soon have to start drawing down its reserves, adding more red ink to the budget.
Unless benefit programs are reined in, America is heading for its own debt crisis. It won't be complicated by whether it should drop out of a currency union. And it might be delayed by a vibrant and innovative private sector. But it could arrive in as little as a decade. And then everything will seem Greek to us.
USA Today's doom and gloom predictions are indistinguishable from the cartoonish fearmongering that has been promoted by Fox News since 2010.
Washington Post contributor and international political economist Daniel Drezner blasted media outlets for allowing the "re-emergence of a Greece-related meme that should have died of shame and embarrassment about four years ago." According to Drezner, after years of the media predicting a Greek-like disaster "exactly none of these things have come to pass."
And on the July 5 edition of ABC's This Week, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman downplayed the impact of the Greek debt crisis for other developed economies, explaining that Greece's GDP is roughly equal to that of Miami, Florida. Krugman also argued in his New York Times column that U.S.-Greece comparisons are unreliable, since they project debt in future decades and assume fiscal policies remain static.
Um, that's comparing a (highly uncertain) projection of debt 20 years from now -- a projection that's based on the assumption of unchanged policy -- with actual debt now. Actual US federal debt is only about half that high now. And it's worth pointing out that Greek debt is projected to rise to 149 percent of GDP over the next few years -- and that's with the austerity measures agreed with the IMF.
Basically, the United States can expect economic recovery to bring the deficit down substantially; Greece, which has a larger structural deficit and also faces a grinding adjustment to overvaluation with the eurozone, can't.
Yes, the United States needs fiscal adjustment -- Auerbach and Gale say that we have a long-run fiscal imbalance of 6-plus percent of GDP, although much of that could be closed by reining in health costs. But we really don't look much like Greece.
Univision Noticias falló a su audiencia al no revelar adecuadamente los vínculos financieros entre un columnista y organizaciones alineadas en contra de un aumento federal al salario mínimo, permitiéndole al autor decir, de manera engañosa, que subir el salario mínimo resultaría en un daño a las minorías trabajadoras y que destruiría empleos.
En una columna del 6 de julio, Daniel Garza, de la organización de extrema derecha Iniciativa Libre, alegó que la "inconveniente realidad de subir el salario mínimo" sería un daño a los "más vulnerables" al aumentar los costos de producción y reducir la demanda de trabajadores. Garza citó un reporte de febrero de 2014 elaborado por la Oficina de Presupuesto del Congreso (CBO, por sus siglas en inglés) como prueba aparente de que aumentar el salario mínimo traería consecuencias negativas a "los más vulnerables", y culpó un aumento del salario mínimo en 2009 de haber destruido cientos de miles de empleos -- ignorando por completo a la verdadera culpable de la pérdida de empleos, la recesión. De su columna en Univision.com:
La Oficina de Presupuesto del Congreso (CBO) pronosticó una pérdida de aproximadamente 500,000 trabajos. Cuando el Congreso aumentó el salario mínimo un 10.6 por ciento en el 2009, más de 600,000 jóvenes perdieron sus trabajos. Actualmente, el salario mínimo contribuye significativamente al desastre fiscal por el que atraviesa Puerto Rico, donde la ley ha contribuido a un alto nivel de desempleo según el Washington Post.
Univision no reveló los profundos lazos financieros existentes entre Daniel Garza, la Iniciativa Libre y la red de activistas anti-salario mínimo financiada por los multimillonarios conservadores Charles y David Koch, lazos que documentó recientemente Media Matters. Univision.com le ha estado brindando una plataforma a Garza y a la Iniciativa Libre sin revelar su agenda financiada por los Koch desde, por lo menos, el 18 de marzo 2015.
"No es un desarrollo positivo tener a alguien como Trump menospreciando la contribución de los inmigrantes a la corriente conservadora, especialmente a la marca Republicana", dijo Daniel Garza - director ejecutivo de la Iniciativa Libre, un grupo financiado por la red de los hermanos Koch, dedicado a vender el conservadurismo a los latinos - en una entrevista con MSNBC.
El argumento de Garza en contra del salario mínimo se encuentra basado enteramente en su mala interpretación de un estudio de la CBO de 2014. La CBO no predijo una "pérdida de aproximadamente 500,000 trabajos", como alega Garza. Predijo 500,000 empleos netos menos creados entre 2014 y 2016 como resultado de aumentar el salario mínimo a $10.10 por hora. El mismo estudio también predijo que un salario mínimo federal de $10.10 aumentaría los ingresos por hora de 16.5 millones de trabajadores estadounidenses, a la vez que sacaría a 900,000 estadounidenses de la pobreza e inyectaría miles de millones de dólares a la economía. El error de Garza no es sorprendente; de acuerdo al Center for American Progress (CAP, por sus siglas en inglés), el estudio de la CBO ha sido malinterpretado ampliamente. Traducido de CAP:
Primero que todo, las proyecciones de la CBO no son que las oportunidades laborales para trabajadores de bajos ingresos disminuirán en los próximos tres años si el salario mínimo se subiera del actual $7.25 a $10.10 la hora, como muchos han reportado. Apenas hace un par de semanas, la CBO publicó su panorama económico y presupuestario para 2014 a 2024, que estima que el empleo en Estados Unidos crecerá en 7 millones de empleos entre ahora y 2018. Por supuesto, esa proyección se basa en un número de supuestos sobre el futuro que consisten en poco más que conjeturas.
Un estudio de febrero de 2013 del Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR por sus siglas en inglés) demostró que décadas de investigación sobre el salario mínimo no han revelado ningún "efecto discernible en el empleo" como resultado de aumentos incrementales al salario mínimo. No hay evidencia de que aumentar el salario mínimo afecte los niveles de empleo, pero hay investigaciones considerables mostrando los impactos positivos para trabajadores de bajos ingresos cuando se aumenta el salario mínimo -- especialmente para las mujeres y las minorías raciales.
Since 2010, Fox News' hosts and analysts have kept up a steady drumbeat of dire warnings that the United States is on a road to financial and economic ruin and could meet the same fate as Greece if it doesn't implement draconian cuts to social safety net programs as a way to cut the debt and deficit. But Greece, which pursued such cuts, accelerated its economic deterioration, while the United States has rejected extreme austerity measures and enjoyed six years of continuous economic recovery.
Univision Noticias failed to adequately disclose for readers the financial ties between an op-ed contributor and organizations aligned against raising the federal minimum wage, allowing the author to misleadingly claim that increasing the baseline hourly wage would actually hurt minority workers and destroy jobs.
In a July 6 Spanish-language op-ed published by Univision.com, Daniel Garza of the far-right Libre Initiative claimed that the "inconvenient reality" of a minimum wage hike is that it would hurt "the most vulnerable" by increasing labor costs and reducing demand for workers. Garza cited a February 2014 report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as apparent proof that raising the minimum wage would bring dire consequences to "the most vulnerable" among the population, and blamed a 2009 minimum wage increase for destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs -- completely ignoring the actual culprit for job loss that year, the recession. Translated from Univision.com:
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted a loss of approximately 500,000 jobs. When Congress raised the minimum wage by 10.6 percent in 2009, more than 600,000 youths lost their jobs. Currently, the minimum wage contributes significantly to the fiscal disaster by running through Puerto Rico, where the law has contributed to a high level of unemployment, according to The Washington Post.
Univision failed to disclose the extensive financial ties between Daniel Garza, the Libre Initiative, and the network of anti-minimum wage advocates funded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, which was recently documented by Media Matters. Univision.com has been providing a platform for Garza and the Libre Initiative without disclosing their Koch-backed agenda since at least March 18, 2015.
Other media outlets, like MSNBC, have done a better job in disclosing Garza's financial backers, putting the bias in his opinion columns in context:
"It's not a positive development to have someone like Trump disparage the contribution of immigrants to the conservative brand, especially the Republican brand," Daniel Garza - executive director of the LIBRE Initiative, a group backed by the Koch brothers' donor network devoted to selling Latinos on conservatism - told msnbc in an interview.
Garza's entire anti-minimum wage argument is based on his misinterpretation of a 2014 CBO study. The CBO did not predict "a loss of approximately 500,000 jobs," as Garza claims. It predicted 500,000 fewer net new jobs created from 2014 through 2016 as a result of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The same study also predicted that a $10.10 federal minimum wage would increase the hourly earnings of 16.5 million American workers, while lifting 900,000 Americans out of poverty and injecting billions of dollars into the economy. Garza's mistake isn't surprising, according to the Center for American Progress, the CBO study has been widely misinterpreted:
First of all, CBO does not project that job opportunities for low-wage workers will decline over the next three years if the minimum wage were raised from the current $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, as so many have reported. Only a few weeks ago, CBO published its economic and budget outlook for 2014 to 2024, which estimated that U.S. employment will grow by 7 million jobs between now and 2018. Of course, that projection is based on a number of assumptions about the future that are little more than educated guesses.
A February 2013 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) showed that decades of minimum wage research reveal no "discernible effect on employment" resulting from incremental increases. There is no evidence that raising the minimum wage affects employment levels, but there is considerable research showing the positive impacts of increasing the minimum wage for low-wage workers -- specifically women and people of color.
Fox News host and senior vice president Neil Cavuto responded to President Obama's expansion of federally guaranteed overtime pay to 5 million additional American workers by fear-mongering that the regulatory change would lead the United States down a path toward financial ruin similar to Greece while hurting the workers it is meant to protect.
In a June 29 op-ed in The Huffington Post, President Obama announced his plan to update federal overtime regulations in 2016 by increasing the salary threshold at which qualifying employees are legally guaranteed overtime pay. Under current law, salaried employees earning less than $23,660 annually are legally required to be paid time-and-a-half when their position requires that they work in excess of 40 hours per week. Obama's proposal would more than double the income threshold to qualify for overtime -- covering qualifying employees earning up to $50,400 annually, or roughly 40 percent of the salaried workforce. Current overtime standards only extend to about 8 percent of salaried workers.
In response to the president's proposal, Cavuto expressed concern that paying more Americans for the hours they work could contribute to an economic disaster in the United States. On the June 30 edition of Fox's Your World, Cavuto proclaimed that the U.S. was becoming "Greece on steroids," a reference to the disastrous fiscal and financial circumstances that have unraveled the comparatively tiny European economy for more than six years. Cavuto was joined by discredited economist Art Laffer, who lamented the "huge burden on these companies" that will now be required to adequately pay their employees:
Despite Cavuto's dire predictions, economists expect that expanded overtime protections will be a boon for the American workforce.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the majority of the workers who will directly benefit from the overtime change are women, and nearly 30 percent of affected workers are minorities. In an op-ed co-authored with philanthropist Nick Hanauer, economist Robert Reich blasted overtime opponents for warning of "unintended consequences" from stronger wages "without an ounce of empirical data to back it up." They also likened the policy to a "minimum wage hike for the middle class," and explained that it will either boost workers' pay or give them additional leisure time while adding new jobs. Economist Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argued in a blog published by The Washington Post that expanding overtime protections is "a critical labor standard with the potential to boost the paychecks of millions of middle-wage workers."
Fox has a long history of attacking overtime protections, recently complaining that the then-rumored proposal amounted to "left-wing economic engineering" and was "probably going to hurt a lot of other people."