While downplaying the effects of the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, Fox's Bill O'Reilly argued that government spending should be reduced to 2008 levels -- a proposal that echoes a 2010 GOP plan that economists said would have damaged the economy.
On the March 1 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly called for a rollback of federal spending to 2008 levels:
O'Reilly's idea is similar to the 2010 Republican proposal to roll back most federal spending to 2008 levels. That proposal, part of the GOP's "Pledge to America," was lambasted by economists. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote that the GOP plan would have "damage[d] the already weak economic recovery by forcing states and localities to lay off more workers and make even deeper cuts." The Economic Policy Institute wrote that if such a plan had been implemented, it could have cost as many as 590,000 jobs.
O'Reilly's suggestion came during a segment in which he joined others in the right-wing media in downplaying the effects of the sequester, which could cost one million jobs.
Fox News political contributor Karl Rove attacked President Obama's proposal to expand pre-kindergarten education as too costly, despite the fact that investment in pre-k education returns more money than it costs. Rover further disregarded the reality that federal spending, including the 2009 stimulus, can often result in net savings.
On the February 13 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, host Jon Scott asked Rove about the pre-k education proposal the president outlined in his State of the Union address. Rove acknowledged that he has no evidence detailing the cost of the president's proposal, but claimed that similar plans would cost $25 billion. When Scott pointed out the return on investment, Rove dismissed it:
SCOTT: But you heard especially with regard to that universal pre daycare kind of thing, universal pre-kindergarten kind of thing the president said that for every dollar you spend on that kind of a program, you get something like $14 back.
ROVE: Well that's how we justify everything. The president justified the stimulus by saying if we spent money on the stimulus, 800 and some odd billion dollars that it would grow the economy. Look, we have tried this idea that we can spend our way to prosperity for four years.
Contrary to Rove's assertion, economists agree that the stimulus has a successful record of creating jobs and preventing a deeper economic recession. Rove also failed to take into account the economic benefits of pre-k programs specifically. For instance, according to Scholastic, "Economists say that the return for every dollar invested in preschool can be anywhere from $2 to $17 when you total the drop in special education, grade repetition, and crime, and add the value of a more productive workforce." A 2005 study by the University of Texas' Children's Learning Institute estimates the return on investment at somewhere between $7 and $8 for every dollar spent, and National Head Start Association study pegs the benefits at $9 returned for every $1 invested in Head Start alone.
From the Children's Learning Institute:
Fox News host Megyn Kelly used a he-said-she-said partisan frame to characterize a discussion about increases in non-defense discretionary spending before President Obama's State of the Union address. But the majority of economists agree that previous stimulus programs have successfully aided job creation.
Kelly touted a Fox News poll on the popularity of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as future stimulus spending. According to the poll, the public perception is that the stimulus did not work. And although Kelly noted that Democrats like President Obama and Nancy Pelosi have argued that federal stimulus spending was responsible for the creation of three million jobs, she failed to point out that this isn't just the opinion of political partisans -- it's the opinion of most economists. A 2010 Wall Street Journal poll of economists showed that 70% of economists agreed that the stimulus was good for the U.S. economy.
According to a May 2012 Congressional Budget Office report, the stimulus created the equivalent of between 900,000 and 4.7 million jobs in 2010 and between 600,000 and 3.6 million jobs in 2011. A February 2013 report from the Center on Budget and Policy also stated that the recession would have been worse without stimulus spending.
Misleading contributions from Kelly's guest, Fox Business Channel's Lou Dobbs, only highlighted the absence of expert analysis during the segment. Dobbs defied the prevailing opinion of economists by claiming that the 2009 stimulus bill, "hasn't worked." He continued, "The jobs that are being created - there is no such thing as jobs being created and saved."
Fox News contributor Byron York suggested that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's congressional testimony on Benghazi indicated that President Obama failed to order the military to protect Americans under attack. However, Panetta testified that Obama explicitly directed him to take military action to protect American lives.
On Fox's America's Newsroom on Friday, guest host Rick Folbaum aired clips of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) questioning Panetta during Thursday's hearing about the attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. York described Panetta's testimony as confirming that "[a]fter having a prescheduled meeting in the afternoon on that day, Secretary Panetta spoke to [President Obama] no more." York then said, "I think what became clear with Lindsey Graham's questioning about possible military activity is that nobody in the Pentagon would have ordered military action without a specific order from the president. And the president wasn't around."
But Panetta's very testimony refutes York's accusation: Panetta made it clear that Obama ordered Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and himself to take all necessary action to protect Americans under attack.