If there was one thing Glenn Beck hated (except for that time he was for it) it was the bank bailouts. That's why it's been so surprising to hear him rail against the student loan reform bill that was included in the health care reconciliation package. According to Beck, Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, or SAFRA, would amount to the government "taking over" education, meaning "[y]ou are not going to get any private dollars for education." Sounds scary:
In reality, the bill eliminates the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, which currently allows banks and other lending institutions to issue student loans that are insured by the federal government. In other words, the lending institutions make money from the interest they charge students, but if a student defaults, the government picks up the tab. So, it's not as if the banks that handle federally guaranteed student loans are currently operating in a private free market.
If that weren't enough corporate welfare, in FY2008, several FFEL lenders found themselves unable to secure private investors and actually borrowed from the Department of Education in order to keep issuing student loans. That seems like a bailout Beck would have opposed.
The SAFRA bill simply cuts the middle man and issues these federally backed loans directly from the Department of Education. As CBS News' Stephanie Condon noted, SAFRA "would slash subsidies the government gives loan companies like Sallie Mae," and "would save the government billions of dollars."
Furthermore, contrary to Beck's suggestion that the bill will eliminate private lending, Private Education Loans will still be available to students who need such loans to cover their full tuition and other costs of attending school.
Why is Beck opposed to a program that saves money and is the antithesis of a bank bailout? Is this going to become something else Beck has to deny he ever said?
Fox News personalities and other right-wing media figures have been baselessly claiming or suggesting that the Obama administration bribed Rep. Jim Matheson by nominating his brother Scott to a seat on the federal judiciary. Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano even declared it might be illegal for Rep. Matheson to vote for health care reform. Those claims were always extremely dubious, and a spokesman for Republican Sen. Robert Bennett said: "Sen. Bennett has heard of all kinds of pressure being applied and offers being made to Democrats for votes on health care, but Scott Matheson's nomination is not one of those because it has been in the works for a long time."
But now the claim has been definitively debunked by former Judge Michael McConnell -- an appointee of former President Bush -- who last occupied the seat for which Scott Matheson has been named. Referring to the claim that Scott Matheson was picked in order to change Rep. Matheson's vote, McConnell wrote: "From my personal knowledge, this speculation cannot be true." From McConnell's March 18 Salt Lake City Tribune letter to the editor:
News that University of Utah law professor Scott Matheson Jr. has been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals has been marred by speculation that the nomination is an attempt to suborn the vote of his brother, Rep. Jim Matheson, in favor of the Obama administration's health care proposal. From my personal knowledge, this speculation cannot be true.
As the former occupant of the judicial position to which Matheson has been named, I was consulted in August 2001 [sic] by the White House Counsel's office to discuss potential nominees. It was clear Matheson was the leading contender.
The decision to nominate Matheson must have been made by mid-October, because in mid-January 2010 I received a call from the American Bar Association committee investigating him. Because of the need for a thorough FBI check, it takes approximately three months from the date the White House decides on a judicial nominee before the ABA can do its work. On Nov. 7, the House of Representatives passed the health care bill, with Rep. Matheson voting "nay."
McConnell added: "Evidently, President Barack Obama nominated Matheson, who has superb credentials and excellent character, for the position despite the politics of health care, not because of it."
And McConnell is not just any run-of-the-mill Bush appointee. He was widely rumored to be on Bush's short list for a Supreme Court nomination in 2005. And WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah said that McConnell would be an "excellent choice" for the Supreme Court.
At first, I was surprised CNN would hire Erick Erickson despite his long record of misogynist comments. Erickson has, after all, called Michelle Obama a "harpy" and used the Limbaugh-esque pejorative "feminazis" and suggested feminists are "too ugly to get a date" and told "Ugly feminists" to "return to their kitchens." That doesn't seem like the kind of commentary the self-styled "most respected name in news" would favor, does it?
Then I remembered Alex Castellanos. Castellanos is a CNN contributor and Republican consultant most famous for creating the infamous race-baiting "Hands" ad for Jesse Helms. He's used his perch at CNN to defend calling a woman a "bitch" and to compare Hillary Clinton to Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and to mock Nancy Pelosi's physical appearance.
And, of course, it was CNN's Headline News that first brought Glenn Beck to cable news.
So maybe Erickson won't be out of place at CNN after all.
From a post on Howard Kurtz's Twitter account:
From the Fox Nation (accessed on March 18):
From a March 18 entry on Bret Baier's Twitter account:
At least 80 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 March 18 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
It's like it was a completely different Fox News correspondent. It's weird.
The glaring double standard Baier used to interview President Obama this week for a contentious battle, as opposed to how Baier interviewed President Bush in late 2008 for a softball fest, is just remarkable.
As Think Progress noted:
Baier's tenacity, however, seems reserved only for Democratic presidents. His interviews with President Bush were far friendlier, with questions like, "What are you reading now?" and "Do you believe that there hasn't been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil in more than seven years because of the policies your administration has implemented?"
MSNBC's Countdown provided the interruption highlights from the Obama interview:
I counted 19 separate interruptions, although your total may differ slightly.
But back to the Baier/Bush summit, from December, 2008. Interruptions? Hard-pressing follow-ups? Please. Unlike this week's combative, in-your-face showdown, Baier's sit-down with Bush was silky smooth, as the interviewer deftly guided the president towards mostly feel-good, RNC pastures and allowed Bush to pontificate at will.
It's true that the circumstances for the POTUS interviews were different. Obama stands at a pivotal political moment of his first term and is trying to push his signature legislative effort past the finish line, while Bush was literally a lame duck, with just over four weeks left on his Oval Office watch. So yes, I understand that in theory the interviews might be different in substance.
Then again, Bush at the time was retiring as the most unpopular president in modern American history (like, since the invention of polling), and Baier could have really pressed Bush to explain what had gone so horribly -- and historically -- wrong during his time in office. He could have asked how was it that Bush had managed to lose 70 points off his approval ratings while serving as president.
But Baier did no such thing. Based on the transcripts, I can't find a single time Baier clearly, or rudely, interrupted Bush.
And the questions! Oh my. Some highlights from Baier's Bush tour de force:
Do you worry at all that the incoming administration will undo some of the things that you say have kept America safe?
What's the thing you're most looking forward to post-White House?
Do you think that you have governed as a conservative?
You think you're a Reagan conservative or a Barry Goldwater conservative?
It's almost like Fox News treats Democrats and Republicans differently. It's weird.
UPDATED: According to Baier, it was all Obama's fault. He was stalling and "running out the clock" with his answers. (i.e. He wasn't giving the answers Baier wanted.)
That defense though, is absurd considering it was a nearly 20-minute interview with Obama and Baier started interrupting Obama right from the outset. Meaning, Baier began interrupting Obama before the president even had a chance to (theoretically) stall.
A funny thing happened while Neil Cavuto was engaging in his absurd sideshow about the length of the health care legislation: Fox News inadvertently admitted that the House will be voting on passage of the Senate bill. During one of Cavuto's several inane segments about how his speedreader was reviewing the Senate health care bill and the accompanying reconciliation bill, the following caption aired:
Despite the best efforts of Fox News congressional correspondent Carl Cameron, among others, to painstakingly explain that a majority vote of the House would be necessary to use the legislative procedure known as the "self-executing rule" to pass the Senate health bill, Fox News' anchors have been pushing the falsehood that the House would be passing the bill without a vote.
I guess this puts paid to that talking point. Right?
Fox News' Neil Cavuto hosted speed-reader Howard Berg to read the "new" House of Representatives health care bill live on today's Your World with Neil Cavuto.
I wonder how long it will take Berg to realize that he's read this bill before.
The only thing "new" that was published today is the 153-page reconciliation package. But Berg was tasked to read not only the reconciliation bill, but the health care bill that the Senate passed in December, which the reconciliation bill amends. That Senate health bill was based mostly on the Senate Finance committee's health reform bill Berg already read on Your World back in October.
Someone should also alert Cavuto and Berg that the vast majority of what Berg just read, the final Senate health bill as passed, has been posted online for months (no speed-reading necessary!) and the House posted a pretty simple section-by-section summary of the reconciliation bill released today. It's about seven pages long.