Rush Limbaugh continued to defend Mitt Romney's refusal to release his tax returns by claiming that Americans aren't interested in seeing Romney's tax returns. In fact, polls show that a majority of Americans want Romney to release his tax returns.
On his show today, Limbaugh declared that "there's not a normal person anywhere" who wants Romney to release more tax returns. He added: "The American people are not chomping at the bit here to have this question answered. It's purely, totally fabricated. The media knows that it's been fabricated; it's a lie."
In fact, polling reveals the opposite is true: The American people do want the question of Romney's tax returns answered. A July USAToday/Gallup poll found that a majority of people believe Romney should release additional years of tax returns:
A Public Policy Polling survey found that 61 percent of Independents believe Romney should release his tax returns for the last 12 years.
But Limbaugh has continued to staunchly defend Romney's refusal to release additional years of his tax returns. Just last week, Limbaugh advised Romney to avoid releasing his returns while challenging President Obama to release his college transcripts to prove he received passing grades. In fact, there is no precedent for presidents or presidential candidates to release their academic records, whereas presidential candidates are expected to release several years' worth of tax returns.
This is not the first time Limbaugh has resorted to distorting public opinion to make a point.
Right-wing media have distorted efforts by President Obama's re-election campaign to restore early voting for all Ohio voters, claiming the campaign is suing to restrict voting for members of the military. In fact, the Obama campaign's lawsuit seeks to restore early voting for all Ohioans, including members of the military and their families.
Fox News distorted economic history to criticize President Obama's record on jobs creation, using what Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has called "a stupid comparison" to President Reagan. But Reagan was aided by an increase in government spending and public sector employment, as well as drastic cuts to interest rates.
The Labor Department* released its monthly jobs report on Friday showing that the U.S. economy added 163,000 jobs in July, compared with 64,000 the previous month. According to the report, unemployment increased by .1 percentage point to 8.3.
In response to those numbers, Fox Business analyst Stuart Varney compared the current recovery with that of Reagan, saying that "it is a very negative comparison for President Obama."
However, Krugman has noted that the two recoveries are not comparable, explaining:
If government employment under Mr. Obama had grown at Reagan-era rates, 1.3 million more Americans would be working as schoolteachers, firefighters, police officers, etc., than are currently employed in such jobs.
And once you take the effects of public spending on private employment into account, a rough estimate is that the unemployment rate would be 1.5 percentage points lower than it is, or below 7 percent -- significantly better than the Reagan economy at this stage.
One implication of this comparison is that conservatives who love to compare Reagan's record with Mr. Obama's should think twice. Aside from the fact that recoveries from financial crises are almost always slower than ordinary recoveries, in reality Reagan was much more Keynesian than Mr. Obama, faced with an obstructionist G.O.P., has ever managed to be.
In the words of the Economic Policy Institute, "the current recovery is the only one [of the last four recessions] that has seen public-sector losses over its first 31 months." EPI continued:
If public-sector employment had grown since June 2009 by the average amount it grew in the three previous recoveries (2.8 percent) instead of shrinking by 2.5 percent, there would be 1.2 million more public-sector jobs in the U.S. economy today. In addition, these extra public-sector jobs would have helped preserve about 500,000 private-sector jobs.
Rush Limbaugh defended Mitt Romney from criticism today for refusing to release his tax returns by challenging President Obama to release his college transcripts. This attack by Limbaugh is dishonest in two ways: There is no precedent for presidents or presidential candidates to release their academic records, whereas presidential candidates are expected to release several years' worth of tax returns.
On his show, Limbaugh claimed that he received a phone call from a Harvard Law classmate of Obama's who told him that Obama "got the lowest grades that any Harvard graduate ever got and that a bunch of professors gave him Bs and Cs when he didn't even show up to class." Limbaugh then added: "It's up to Obama to prove it. The allegation's out there." Limbaugh had earlier advised Mitt Romney to not release his tax returns.
Obama's college transcripts have long been an obsession for the right-wing media, which have maintained that the transcripts would unmask Obama as "a foreign student" or as not intelligent enough to have gotten into either Occidental, Columbia, or Harvard.
In fact, most presidential candidates do not release their academic records. As the IvyGate blog reported:
Most presidential nominees (at least of late) do not release their grades from college. Romney hasn't. John McCain disclosed his class rank in 2007, but not his grades. John Kerry made his Yale transcript public only after he lost the 2004 election. Sarah Palin didn't talk about her grades until after the 2008 election. One exception is Joe Biden, who released his undergraduate transcript in 1987 as a form of damage control.
Contrary to Romney's refusal to publicize his tax returns, FactCheck.org noted that "with the lone exception of McCain, all candidates over the last 30 years each have released more than two years of tax returns":
Mitt Romney says he is following the "precedent" set by John McCain in releasing just two years of tax returns. That's accurate. But McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee, bucked the trend of other recent presidential candidates.
In more than three decades, no other nominees for either party have released fewer than five years' worth of returns. Romney's own father released a dozen years' worth when he ran for the GOP nomination in 1968.
Over those three decades, the number of years of released tax returns went from a high of 30 by Republican Bob Dole in 1996 to a low of five by Democrat Michael Dukakis in 1988.
In 1968, when Romney's father, George Romney, released 12 years of tax returns -- saying, "one year could be a fluke" -- his Republican primary opponent Richard Nixon didn't release any tax returns. Nor did Democrat Hubert Humphrey.
In 2008, candidate Obama released seven years of tax returns, as FactCheck.org also pointed out.
Fox News is using a new report about the Obama administration's deportation of immigrants (legal and undocumented) to reinforce their narrative that President Obama is not committed to enforcing illegal immigration. In fact, the Congressional Research Service report proves the opposite: that the Obama administration has prioritized the removal of undocumented immigrants who are a danger to society, increasing the number of deportations by nearly 90 percent.
According to the study, which analyzed records from October 2008 -- before Obama was in office -- to July 2011, 46,734 undocumented immigrants were released within that three-year span. Of those, 7,283 or 15.9 percent, recommitted crimes within three years of their initial arrest and release. To put it in context, Americans' recidivism rate is about 40 percent.
But Fox News anchor Rick Folbaum described those findings as "revealing that illegal immigrants are more likely to return to jail after being arrested than citizens or even legal residents" -- which is the exact opposite of what the report concluded. According to the report, legal immigrants' recidivism rate was 16.5 percent. When taken together, the report found that 17 percent of legal and undocumented immigrants recommitted crimes within three years of their release.
Still, host Bill Hemmer stated that the report cast "fresh doubt on the president's immigration policy." Host Lou Dobbs promoted the findings, suggesting the Obama administration has an "anti-enforcement agenda."
Nothing is further from the truth. The Obama administration has prioritized the removal of dangerous undocumented immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director John Morton made this clear:
Over the past three and a half years, ICE has established clear priorities that focus our enforcement resources on aliens that pose a threat to public safety or national security, repeatedly violate our immigration laws or recently crossed our borders.
On America's Newsroom, Fox News promoted a Republican congressman's claim that a halt to government regulations will lower the unemployment rate, and then misled viewers over regulations' negligent effect on business and unemployment. In the last six years, regulations were responsible for less than 1 percent of all job loss, and small business owners have cited demand, not regulation, as their biggest obstacle to job creation.
Fox News contributor and National Review editor Rich Lowry claimed that because of the current economic situation, "it makes even less sense to pile new regulations on top of business to make the job of hiring people even more difficult than it is." Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers added that "regulation of small businesses is a problem" and agreed that government regulations "have been too much." Host Bill Hemmer then asked: "Why doesn't the White House do something about [regulation]? Unemployment's above 8 percent."
In reality, government regulations have a negligible impact on the unemployment rate. In 2011, government regulation was the impetus behind only 0.4 percent of all jobs lost, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For 2012 thus far, regulation is responsible for merely 0.28 percent of total new unemployment. Business demand for goods and services is responsible the vast majority of layoffs, as BLS shows:
From 2007-2009, during the economic recession, the BLS found that government regulation accounted for around 4,300 layoffs -- 0.3 percent of all those who lost their jobs. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) noted that these numbers are especially significant when compared with the number of jobs lost during the recession due to regulatory failures:
The 4,300 figure itself deserves further context. It does not take into account any offsetting job creation that the regulations may have spurred, such as jobs created from the increased demand for the products from companies in compliance with the regulations. More broadly, the 4,300 figure pales in comparison to any accounting of the jobs lost in this period due to the regulatory failures that contributed to the economy's financial crisis.
That extended mass layoffs resulting from government regulations/intervention are a small sliver of all such layoffs is not an anomaly of tough economic times (when more layoffs naturally reflect the lack of demand). In 2007, a year of modest job growth, just 0.3% of extended mass layoffs were attributed to government regulation/intervention.
Small business owners agree. In a 2011 survey of about 1,200 small business owners, more than 80 percent cited economic factors and lack of demand as the primary obstacles facing their business.
Fox News contributor Karl Rove took to The O'Reilly Factor to hype a new web ad, "Replay," put out by the conservative super PAC he co-founded. The American Crossroads ad paints President Obama's statement that his small business remarks have been taken out of context as dishonest, presenting Fox's deceptively truncated version of the president's remarks as the full version of his comments.
During the segment, Rove said the goal of the ad was "to mock the president for saying you took my words out of context." He then repeated the false Fox narrative of Obama's comments, claiming that the president "stood up there, in front of a crowd in Roanoke, and diminished the success of small business people by saying, 'if you build a business - you know, somebody else did that.' "
Of course, Obama said no such thing. In Bloomberg's review of the Crossroads ad, the report noted: "The problem, of course, is that Obama's words have been spliced and diced in this ongoing game." Here's the full context of Obama's comments, with the tiny snippet that is repeated in the Crossroads ad bolded below:
OBAMA: [L]ook, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
Later on, Sean Hannity also played the Crossroads ad, and incredibly claimed that "there's no slicing, no dicing, full context" in it.
Amid reports of rising poverty, two Fox News contributors claimed that anti-poverty programs have done nothing to alleviate poverty. In fact, federal government programs such as food stamps, Social Security, and other measures created or boosted by the stimulus billhave kept millions out of poverty and lowered the poverty rate.
Fox's senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano teamed up with Neil Cavuto to attack the Obama campaign for suing Ohio Republican officials after the state restricted early voting access for some, calling the suit "frivolous" and saying that it will impact "very few people."
In fact, almost 2 million Ohioans took advantage of early voting during the 2008 presidential election -- and limiting early voting availability disproportionately affects minorities, new citizens, and the poor.
The suit at issue concerns a series of recent Ohio laws that end in-person, early voting in the final three days before Election Day in November for all Ohio citizens, except for military members, their families, and Americans living abroad. Previously, early voting was available to Ohioans on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before a national election at the discretion of local election boards. Napolitano asserted that this state-wide closure would affect "very few" voters and that the Democrats' suit shows "a very absurd willingness to file lawsuits in frivolous cases."
In fact, roughly 1.7 million Ohioans, or 30 percent of the state's total voters, voted early in the three days before the 2008 election.
Similarly, the new law subjects citizens living in the same district to different early voting opportunities. Military personnel and their families will continue to enjoy early voting the weekend prior to the election, while their civilian neighbors will not. The change in hours leads to ambiguity for citizens who are accustomed to voting on their particular district's schedule.
Ending early voting prior to the election also disproportionately affects minorities and the poor, those most unlikely to reach a voting booth on Election Day. Project Vote, a nonprofit organization that focuses on voting rights issues, determined that, during the 2008 election, "African American and Hispanic voters cast ballots at a rate exceeding or matching that of white voters." The Brennan Center for Justice found that early voting restrictions most heavily disrupt minorities' vote:
New restrictions on early voting will also have their biggest impact on people of color. Opponents of these restrictions have been particularly angered by the efforts to eliminate Sunday early voting, which they see as explicitly targeting African-American voters. Florida eliminated early voting on the last Sunday before Election Day, and Ohio has eliminated early voting on Sundays entirely. There is substantial statistical and anecdotal evidence that African Americans (and to a lesser extent Hispanics) vote on Sundays in proportionately far greater numbers than whites.
Fox News' reporting on a July Ernst & Young report critical of President Obama's tax policies repeatedly referred to the organization as "non-partisan," even though the study was sponsored by industry groups opposed to Obama's policies - a fact that was not mentioned during Fox's reporting.
The Ernst & Young report, which was highlighted by Republican House Speaker John Boehner, claimed several policies that would result in higher marginal taxes paid by high-income earners would harm the economy. During his Special Report segment on the study, Fox's chief national correspondent Jim Angle touted Ernst & Young as an "independent research organization" and "a non-partisan group."
Later during the program, host Bret Baier followed suit, describing the organization that prepared the report as an "independent research organization" that is "non-partisan."
But what Angle and Baier never told their viewers is that the report was "[p]repared on behalf" of partisan, conservative-leaning industry organizations that have opposed Obama administration policies, including the Independent Community Bankers of America, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the United States Chamber of Commerce.
A look at the history of the study's sponsors shows just how partisan they are.