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.
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.