Dick Morris, who Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy described as "know[ing] all about numbers," asserted on Fox & Friends and in a column for The Hill that Obama is being "disingenuous" when he claims to have inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit. The real number, Morris says, is $800 billion.
And here's how he gets to that figure: First, he says Bush's fiscal year 2008 deficit was $600 billion. Then he adds $200 billion for TARP, since "[t]he $700 billion was a short-term loan. $500 billion of it has already been repaid." $600 billion plus $200 billion equals $800 billion, "that was the real deficit Obama inherited." Done and done.
Morris' main problem is that he doesn't appear to grasp the concept of fiscal year deficits. When Obama refers to the $1 trillion-plus deficit he inherited, he's talking about fiscal year 2009, which began in October 2008 and ended September 2009, because deficits, unlike debt, reflect the annual budget. So right off the bat, Morris is lost when he factors in Bush's FY 2008 deficit:
In 2008, George W. Bush ran a deficit of $485 billion. By the time the fiscal year started, on Oct. 1, 2008, it had gone up by another $100 billion due to increased recession-related spending and depressed revenues. So it was about $600 billion at the start of the fiscal crisis. That was the real Bush deficit. [DickMorris.com, 2/3/2010]
Is he simply confused here? Morris says that Bush ran a deficit of "$485 billion" in FY 2008 but then says that the deficit was about $600 billion "by the time" FY 2009 "started." First of all, Morris appears to have misread the numbers. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the FY 2008 deficit was $458 billion, not $485. (CBO put it at $455 billion, $216 billion higher than Bush anticipated.) But that's really beside the point. Somehow, Morris claimed "recession-related spending and depressed revenues" caused the FY 2008 deficit to grow to "about $600 billion." But CBO's recorded $455 billion deficit includes all spending and revenues that took place up to the start of FY 2009. And even if the fiscal year deficit was $600 billion, it wouldn't be useful to compare that number to the $1.3 trillion deficit Obama says he inherited because, again, Obama is talking about FY 2009. Morris continues:
But when the fiscal crisis hit, Bush had to pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in the final months of his presidency, which cost $700 billion. Under the federal budget rules, a loan and a grant are treated the same. So the $700 billion pushed the deficit - officially - up to $1.3 trillion. But not really. The $700 billion was a short-term loan. $500 billion of it has already been repaid. [DickMorris.com, 2/3/2010]
Morris appears to believe we spent $700 billion in FY 2009 for the TARP program. In fact, "the Treasury recorded a cost of $151 billion for activities undertaken by the program (and $90 million for administrative costs)" in FY2009 according to CBO. Additionally, "the Treasury recorded $91 billion in net outlays for the housing GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" in fiscal year 2009. As for Morris' claim that $500 billion of TARP loans "has already been repaid," the Treasury Department reported that as of January 6, 2010, it has received $165 billion in TARP repayments and "approximately $12.89 billion in dividends, interest and fees through December 2009." Morris' conclusion:
So what was the real deficit Obama inherited? The $600 billion deficit Bush was running plus the $200 billion of TARP money that probably won't be repaid (mainly AIG and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). That totals $800 billion. That was the real deficit Obama inherited.
Then ... he added $300 billion in his stimulus package, bringing the deficit to $1.1 trillion. This $300 billion was, of course, totally qualitatively different from the TARP money in that it was spending, not lending. It would never be paid back. Once it was out the door, it was gone. Other spending and falling revenues due to the recession pushed the final numbers for Obama's 2009 deficit up to $1.4 trillion. [DickMorris.com, 2/3/2010]
Actually, CBO estimated that Obama's stimulus package increased the deficit by $200 billion in FY 2009, not $300 billion. But ultimately, every point underlying Morris' comparison - he titled his column, "These are the true deficits: Bush $800B, Obama $1.4T" - is misguided and reveals a basic lack of budget literacy on Morris' part. Nothing he offered was responsive to Obama's statement that he inherited deficit of over a trillion dollars. If Morris is interested in addressing Obama's point, he should first recognize that Obama is referring to the FY 2009 deficit and that Obama's statement is likely based upon the fact that before he took office on January 20, 2009, CBO released an estimate of the FY 2009 deficit based on economic forecasts and current law, including the TARP and the Fannie/Freddie bailouts. At that point, before Obama moved into the White House or signed any bills, CBO projected that the 2009 deficit would be over a trillion dollars. As CNN recently noted:
Obama was essentially correct when he said he inherited a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion. Though the budget deficit for 2008 was a then-record $458.6 billion, the CBO issued a projection in January 2009, just days before Obama took office that the budget deficit would reach $1.2 trillion that year, before the cost of any new stimulus plan or other legislation was taken into account. [CNN Political Ticker, 1/30/10]
So to recap, Steve Doocy read Morris' column full o' nonsense, concluded that Morris "knows all about numbers," and brought him on to Fox & Friends to repeat his mistaken claims on television. Sure, the deficit is alarming, but frankly, I'm more disturbed by the number of dollars these guys are being paid by Fox News to, um, inform its trusting viewers.
Since August, Fox News has hosted "Fox News strategic analyst" Ralph Peters at least 31 times, despite his suggestion last July that the Taliban should kill a captured U.S. soldier. In his most recent Fox appearance, Peters called for the firing of attorney general Eric Holder because he "seems to have never met a terrorist he didn't want to hug."
In a July 2009 Fox appearance, Peters blasted the Taliban-captured Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl as a "liar, we're not sure if he's a deserter." Peters added that if Bergdahl is a deserter, "the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills."
Peters' remarks set off a flurry of angry reaction from military and veteran quarters. The Pentagon reportedly said that his remarks "could endanger" the captured soldier. Then-Vice Chairman of VoteVets.org Brandon Friedman, who now works at the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrote that "proposing that an American soldier should be executed by the Taliban is extraordinarily inappropriate at best -- regardless of whether or not the soldier is a deserter." Twenty-three veterans in Congress (Republicans and Democrats) criticized Peters and Fox News; Congressman and retired Navy Commander Eric Massa called on Fox to fire Peters.
On August 29, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade exclaimed, "I always love talking" to Peters. The feeling is mutual: Between August 1, 2009, and February 3, Peters appeared on Fox News and Fox Business Network shows at least 31 times.* During his appearances, Peters claimed that Obama is "too vain" to fire "politically correct appoint[ee]" Janet Napolitano; Obama "doesn't think" [9-11] was "any big deal"; and "I'm sick of hearing that Islam is a religion of peace," "It's clear that the problem is Islam."
The New York Post, which, like Fox News, is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., publishes Peters as a columnist. Peters is also a regular guest on Fox News Radio.
During his appearances on the network, Fox News helped Peters sell his science fiction book, The War After Armageddon.
Peters' continued appearances on Fox beg the question: just what does someone have to do to get fired by Fox?
*America's Nightly Scoreboard (FBN): December 2, February 3. Cavuto (FBN): September 25, November 24. Fox & Friends: August 1, August 29, September 5, September 16, September 20, September 30, October 7, October 10, November 7, November 14, November 29, December 2, December 12, January 16, January 24. Glenn Beck: December 3. The O'Reilly Factor: August 7, September 3, September 10, September 15, September 24, November 6, November 10, December 28, January 7. Money for Breakfast (FBN): August 14. Your World with Neil Cavuto: November 9.
Glenn Beck has been known to bristle at the suggestion that he might have a problem when it comes to issues of race. His incredulity is matched only by his crippling lack of self-awareness -- he seems to think that a reasoned discussion of race includes calling the first black president a "slavemaster" and a "racist" who is scheming to enact "reparations."
But I'm feeling charitable today, so I'll offer Beck a bit of advice. If you really are that upset at people constantly accusing you of being, let's say, insensitive when it comes to race, don't say things like this, as you did on the radio earlier this morning:
BECK: He chose to use his name, Barack, for a reason. To identify, not with America -- you don't take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical? Really? Searching for something to give him any kind of meaning, just as he was searching later in life for religion.
OK, let's break down the problematic parts of this, just so there isn't any room for confusion. First, the suggestion that certain names, such as the African name Barack, are un-American. Second, the idea that Obama, in embracing his African name, was doing so at the expense of his American identity, as if the two are mutually exclusive (someone relevant to this discussion once talked about the "the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too"). And third, the implication that Obama's father's Kenyan roots are linked to his "radical"-ness.
That's the best I can do for you, Glenn. I can't break it down any further. If you don't see why some people would get upset that you accused the president of adopting his African name in order to repudiate his American identity and connect with his father's radical Kenyan heritage, then I'm afraid you might be a lost cause.
UPDATE: Not that Beck would ever trust the president's words over his own ill-informed armchair psychoanalyzing, but Obama told Newsweek in 2008 why he chose to start going by "Barack" after transferring to Columbia University: "It was not some assertion of my African roots ... not a racial assertion. It was much more of an assertion that I was coming of age. An assertion of being comfortable with the fact that I was different and that I didn't need to try to fit in in a certain way."
Namely, it's created a conservative movement in which large chunks of followers think the President of the United States hates white people, is a socialist, and had the election "stolen" for him by ACORN. Folks who also want the president to be impeached, and their home state to secede from the union.
Those were the results from this week's Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll which surveyed only self-identified Republicans, and yes, there's been a fair amount of conservative teeth-gnashing over the fringe-centric results. But I'm not sure why, because if you're a Republican and watch Fox News and then listen to AM talk radio for six, or nine or twelve hours each week, those are the messages being broadcast pretty much 24/7.
So why are people now surprised that self-identified Republicans espouse those radical, loony beliefs when the GOP Noise Machine has been mainstreaming them for the last 13 months?
UPDATED: Adds Markos at Daily Kos:
[Conservatives have] spent the last year talking about Obama being a secret socialist who wants to kill grandmother, who wasn't born in the United States, who is making common cause with the terrorists because he wants to destroy America.
You'd think O'Reilly and the rest of the wingnuts would be ecstatic, that their message is getting through to them! But when a poll confirms that the Fox News message has gotten through, they're angry?
UPDATED: One explanation for the conservative media's reaction to the polling results is that millionaire hosts at Fox News and on AM radio are shocked people actually believe what they've been saying. Perhaps the RW media's position is that the non-stop Obama hating is really just a game. It's entertainment. And surely, viewers and listeners are in on the joke.
Ah, remember that January press chestnut? (It's not old enough to be considered a classic, so maybe it's just in recurrent mode right now.)
Remember when the press robotically typed up that fictitious GOP claim that if Scott Brown won the Mass. special election, corrupt Dems would delay in seating him so they could pass all kinds of bills without him there. Remember how the press kept doing that despite the fact there was no evidence to support the would-be conspiracy theory? i.e. The claim of Democratic corruption was built around potential malfeasance.
Well look at the headlines today and what do we learn? Not only aren't Dems delaying Brown's arrival to the U.S. Senate, they're seating him early.
It's good so many Beltway scribes wasted their time pushing the phony GOP line about Dems not seating Brown, right?
Ugh, we've been down this bumpy road before. In fact, not that long ago, the Times had to run a correction because, as Media Matters pointed out to his editor, Malcolm had butchered some polling data in order to make his darling, Sarah Palin, look really, really popular. (She isn't.)
Well, time to roll out the latest Malcolm polling train wreck. And frankly, after watching pileup after pileup, it's hard to imagine that all these polling blunders (which always favor Republicans) are innocent mistakes.
Covering Obama's Q&A yesterday with Democrats, Laura Bush's former flack wrote [emphasis added]:
Today the president went before the Democratic Senate Policy Committee, a hometown crowd, some of them worried by the president's poll drops and loss of agenda control, especially those running this year in what appears to be developing as a political climate receptive to change people can believe in -- for Republicans.
And so, speaking of the devil, Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader with a lot of money and trouble back home in Nevada, makes sure in this session to give TV face time to some similarly troubled colleagues -- Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Michael Bennet of Colorado and the old ex-GOP guy from Pennsylvania.
According to Malcolm, Gillibrand is facing trouble "back home," just like Reid and Lincoln, among others. But in truth, Malcolm is just making stuff up.
Because according to the most recent polling, here's how much trouble the senator faces "back home":
According to these numbers, Gillibrand's job approval rating is 42-38 - her highest score since she was tapped last January by Gov. David Paterson to fill former Sen. Hillary Clinton's vacant seat.
But her favorability is 33-22, with 44 percent still saying they haven't heard enough about her to form an opinion.
Gillibrand leads her potential primary challenger, Harold Ford Jr., 38-18 with 40 percent of Democrats undecided. Either Gillibrand or Ford would easily defeat the lone announced GOP US Senate candidate, Bruce Blakeman. (44-27 for her, 35-26 for him).
Kirsten Gillibrand, at least, will have her blood pressure reduced by the knowledge that she is still ahead of former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. by a wide margin in a head-to-head matchup, 44 percent to 27 percent. (Labor activist Jonathan Tasini nabs 4 percent.) Since the previous Marist poll in mid-January, Gillibrand has gained a point while Ford gained 3 percent in that contest.
And going back a bit, here's the Gillibrand polling results from two weeks ago:
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) would crush former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) in a Senate primary matchup, according to a new Siena Research Institute poll out Monday.
Gillibrand commands 41 percent to Ford's 17 percent in the poll, which places labor organizer Jonathan Tasini in third, with 5 percent.
When I grow up, I want to be an LA Times blogger, so I can make stuff up for a living.
UPDATED: BTW, If Malcolm doesn't get paid by Palin for his incessant cheerleading, he ought to. I mean, honestly, if he wants a job as a Palin flack, can't he just ask her privately rather than auditioning in public? It's just embarrassing to watch:
Unlike most of her party's stiff-suited talking heads on Capitol Hill, Palin connects with millions of regular Americans who know about hunting and union husbands working two jobs and going to church and the thrill of snowmobiling and family hurdles like Downs syndrome and teen pregnancy.
UPDATED: While hyping Palin's supposedly brilliant decision to speak at the Tea Party convention this weekend, Malcolm dutifully plays dumb about the mountain of controversy surrounding it -- controversy from within the Tea Party movement itself.
From Erik Rush's February 4 WorldNetDaily column:
The way some of you have gone after this bill, you'd think this was some ... Bolshevik plot.
-- President Obama, Jan. 29, 2010, to GOP members of the House
Now, why on earth might people suspect someone who's been immersed in Marxist ideology since he came out of the chute of masterminding a Bolshevik-style plot? Actually, I'm glad Obama brought it up; he saved me the trouble. Regular readers of this column are aware that I've made this claim regarding nearly everything Obama has done, from his involvement in mortgage-securities politics (even before he became president) to health-care legislation.
The "Bolshevik plot" statement itself, according to a professional I consulted in the area of psychological pathology (yes, I do that, because I don't pretend to be a psychologist), might be a variant of psychological projection (sometimes called Freudian Projection). You know, like the guy who says to his wife, "Jeez, honey -- it's not like I'm cheating on you," when in fact, he is. He's trying to allay her suspicions whilst gauging them at the same time. Judging from the materials I've read by psychologists and lay people on Obama's alleged mental twists, I can only come to the conclusion that the signs thereof are pretty apparent.
But all of this borders on the irrelevant. The current economic crisis was orchestrated. Health-care reform, Obama's past spending and his new budget all have the same objective: manipulation of the economy toward consolidation of unprecedented power. Obama could possess any number of dangerous psychological maladies; for now, he's still the president, and his ideology presents far more peril than the mind that harbors it.
Whatever the case, if he mentions the film "Soylent Green" once, I'm heading for the hills.
Twice this week, Bill O'Reilly referred to Glenn Beck as "every man sitting on a bar stool."
As anyone who's ever worked for a while as a bartender can attest, bartenders meet a lot of different people. Most of them good people.
But amidst all the good people, there's always one guy at the end of the bar.
Sometimes he's loud. Sometimes he's obnoxious. Sometimes he just talks to himself.
But he's always alone. And he's always the center of his own world.
Such is Glenn Beck.
After O'Reilly used the line* on Jon Stewart during a rare Stewart appearance on the Factor, Stewart asked the obvious: "Every man's got a show?"
Indeed, Beck has his own Fox News show, his own nationally syndicated radio show and a $3 million book deal.
Just like every man.
Throw in the revenues from his website and ticket sales at his speaking events and Business Insider estimated he was set to make $18 million in 2009.
Just like every man.
Beck has been on the radio since he was 15, first as a DJ and later as a talk show host.
Just like every man.
But what about what Beck actually says?
Would every man accuse the president of the United States of having a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture"?
No, but one man did.
More importantly, would every man use the almost unparalleled access to multiple media outlets -- perhaps only Oprah tops him - to smear and personally attack those with whom he disagrees, traffic in ridiculous conspiracy theories, and instill fears in millions of Americans?
No, but one man does.
Glenn Beck is not every man. He is just one man -- who, like O'Reilly, knows that the "every man" myth sells.
*O'Reilly's attempts to portray Beck as "every man" warrant a look back at David Cross' absolute annihilation of similar attempts to portray George 'Dubya' Bush as "every man":
'I'm a straight shooter, man. I'm a Washington outsider. I'm such a Washington outsider and just like you because I'm sure all y'all had the same kind of upbringing just like me. You know where your daddy was head of the CIA, and then ambassador to China, and then vice president for eight years and then president of the United States for four years. Yeah I'm just like you, I'm a good old boy from Midland, Texas!'
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Here are his February 3 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
Last month, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller web site launched with a column by The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash in which Labash referred to MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow as a man. Hilarious, right?
If you thought that was just a case of opening-day exuberance getting the best of the Daily Caller crew, think again. It seems they still haven't stopped giggling over at Tucker's little playhouse, which today again calls Maddow a man. At the end of a "DC Trawler" entry featuring a series of photos of MSNBC's female journalists, the Daily Caller includes a picture of Maddow and a caption suggesting the photo doesn't belong with the others and referring to her as "man" and "dude":