Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum suggested that requests for Mitt Romney to release more of his tax returns are somehow an invasion of his privacy, even as polling shows most Americans think Romney should do so.
Romney continues to deny requests from both sides of the aisle to release more tax returns, asserting that the 2010 return and 2011 estimate he released are sufficient. Today, the Obama campaign offered to stop criticizing Romney for a lack of transparency if he releases five years of tax returns. The Romney camp declined, alleging that the Obama team was trying to distract from "issues that matter to voters."
MacCallum's declaration that Romney's tax returns aren't "anybody's business" echoes a comment Romney made earlier this week on the campaign trail. Romney said, "Given the challenges that America faces -- 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, one out of six Americans in poverty -- the fascination with taxes I've paid I find to be very small-minded."
The majority of the country disagrees with MacCallum. Sixty-three percent of Americans believe Romney should release more of his tax returns, according to an August 9 CNN poll. Among independents, that number is even higher, at 67 percent. Similarly, a Gallup poll in July found that 54 percent of adults thought that Romney should release additional returns.
As part of its campaign to stoke fears of widespread voter fraud, Fox is ginning up outrage that voter registration forms have been sent to dead people, dogs, and cats, with the apparent implication that those dogs and cats might vote and alter the outcome of the 2012 election.
The target of Fox's latest attack is the Voter Participation Center (VPC), a nonprofit group that uses mass mailings of voter registration applications in an effort to reach the 24 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote, but not registered. Recently, the center acknowledged that some mailings were addressed to ineligible voters, including deceased citizens and even pets, because of faulty commercial mailing lists.
While this is several steps away from actual voter fraud -- a virtually nonexistent problem in U.S. elections -- Fox News worried that these applications were raising "growing fears on election fraud." On today's broadcast of America Live, host Megyn Kelly claimed:
KELLY: Growing fears on election fraud today, as folks across the country get pre-filled-out voter registration forms. You know where they say, like, here, this is you, Megyn Kelly, this is where you show up to vote. But they don't have your name on it. They have the name of your dead pet. Or dead relative. Or your live pet. Either way, it's problematic. Because your pet -- your pet shouldn't be on there. The documents look official, but it turns out they are not coming from election administrators, but from a nonprofit group, and that's causing some controversy.
Fox's America's Newsroom teased a story about the VPC registration forms by saying that there are "new concerns about voter fraud ahead of the November elections." The subsequent segment was identified as part of Fox News' "Voter Fraud Watch:"
But sending out inaccurately addressed voter registration forms is not voter fraud.
In the days since Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, Fox News has been gushing over the Wisconsin congressman, calling him a "rock star," a "bold, transformational" pick, and "the future" of the Republican party.
Some of that praise sounded familiar, so Media Matters took a look at Fox's coverage of another Republican vice presidential candidate -- current Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, who was 2008's "rock star" pick and "future of the Republican Party."
Rush Limbaugh continued to praise vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan today, touting Ryan's claim that his Medicare proposal creates a program identical to what members of Congress and federal employees enjoy. Limbaugh even cited a New York Times analysis to try to support the comparison -- but Limbaugh apparently didn't read the analysis, since it actually debunks Ryan's claim.
In a 2011 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Paul Ryan wrote that under his Medicare proposal, "new Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy." When a caller on Limbaugh's program today brought up the comparison, the host agreed with Ryan's claim.
Limbaugh then pointed to a New York Times article by economist Uwe Reinhardt, saying: "Now, the New York Times story -- I just had to quick scan it. They try to nit-pick what they say are differences, but it looks pretty much like Ryan's plan is very close to, if not identical, to what Congress has."
Actually, the Times analysis found exactly the opposite: Ryan's proposal and Congress' current plans have a "huge difference."
Fox News continues to attack the Obama administration over welfare reform by claiming that the waiver provision it recently proposed is "illegal" and beyond the scope of President Obama's executive power. In fact, as the Department of Health and Human Services makes clear, there is nothing illegal in the decision; moreover, past presidents have used such authority.
Right-wing media are accusing the Tax Policy Center of bias following its analysis that Mitt Romney's tax plan would cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans while raising them for lower- and middle-income Americans. But conservative media previously touted TPC as nonpartisan and experts agree that TPC's work is unassailable.
Rush Limbaugh defended a Romney campaign ad that attacks President Obama for giving states more flexibility in overseeing federal welfare-to-work programs. But this policy change was reportedly sought by 29 Republican governors, including Romney.
In July, as the New York Times reported, the Obama administration announced "that it would grant states waivers to experiment with how they administer the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which distributes aid to the poorest Americans while they look for work." The Times continued: "The directive results from a broader effort by the Obama administration to peel back unnecessary layers of bureaucracy and allow states to spend federal money more efficiently."
The article went on to state:
Of the five states that have so far expressed interest in receiving waivers, two of them, Utah and Nevada, have Republican governors. The other states are California, Connecticut and Minnesota, according to the Health and Human Services Department.
State support of waivers is not a new phenomenon. In 2005, 29 Republican governors, including Mr. Romney and Mr. Huckabee, asked Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, for more "flexibility to manage their TANF programs and effectively serve low-income populations."
"Increased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit and the ability to coordinate state programs are all important aspects of moving recipients from welfare to work," the letter read.
Today, the Romney campaign released a television ad condemning the Obama administration's decision. The ad claims that Obama "quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements" and promises, "Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works."
But the New York Times pointed out:
Seven years ago, Mitt Romney joined other governors to urge the federal government to grant "increased waiver authority" to states to experiment with implementation of the federal welfare-to-work program.
But as he runs for president, Mr. Romney and his Republican allies are now accusing President Obama of "gutting" the welfare program by saying it will consider waivers to states.
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.