Discussing President Obama's meeting with congressional leaders to discuss the economic stimulus plan, CBS' Chip Reid reported that "when Republicans criticized tax refunds for people who don't pay taxes, sources in the meeting say the president said, quote, 'I won,' referring to the election and making it clear he's sticking with that part of the plan." In fact, Obama has not proposed giving tax refunds to "people who don't pay taxes"; he has proposed giving the tax credit to "working families," which means they pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity have falsely asserted or suggested that Robert Reich, speaking at a congressional forum, proposed that jobs created by the economic stimulus package should exclude white males. In fact, Reich has repeatedly stated that he favors a stimulus plan that "includ[es] women and minorities, and the long-term unemployed" in addition to skilled professionals and white male construction workers, not one that is solely limited to them.
Numerous media figures have asserted that the proposed stimulus package supported by President Barack Obama would amount to spending at least $223,000 for every job created, echoing a press release issued by the Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee. But by calculating the per-job cost by dividing the estimated total cost of the stimulus package by the estimated number of jobs created -- and thus suggesting that the sole purpose of that package is to create jobs -- these media figures ignored other tangible benefits stemming from the package, such as infrastructure improvements and education, health, and public safety investments.
On NBC's Nightly News, Chuck Todd reported that President Obama "drew more criticism from Republicans [...] thanks to a new report claiming the stimulus will take years, not months, to improve the economy" and aired a clip of House Minority Leader John Boehner criticizing the stimulus plan. However, Todd did not mention the Democratic leadership's response: that the Congressional Budget Office report ignored faster-moving provisions in the stimulus, creating a "false impression" of the plan's effects.
On The O'Reilly Factor, Dick Morris repeatedly criticized Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner for his failure to pay Social Security taxes several years ago. But Morris has his own history of tax delinquency; USA Today included Morris in an April 2008 report on "[b]ig names" who are tax delinquents.
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Rush Limbaugh responded to a caller's account of her own economic troubles as a homeowner and small business owner and her assertion that she "need[s] people to start believing that America is going to turn that corner" by stating, "Well, you might want to consult history," adding: "It was much worse than this 26 years ago."
On Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson asserted that in answering questions about his failure to pay social security taxes several years ago, Treasury Secretary nominee Tim Geithner "kind of put the blame a little bit on a computer program." In fact, at his hearing, Geithner mentioned the tax software he used only after he was asked which brand he used to file his taxes.
During a Fox News discussion about stimulus spending and the role New Deal programs and World War II played in ending the Great Depression, Chris Wallace falsely claimed that "unemployment in 1937, 1938 was higher than it was in 1933." In fact, even without including "emergency" public employment under the New Deal, the unemployment rate in 1937 and 1938 did not surpass the 1933 unemployment rate.
On Fox News' Happening Now, Newt Gingrich echoed a common distortion employed by opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act, claiming that it "tak[es] away your right to a secret-ballot vote before being forced to join a union." In fact, the legislation does not eliminate employees' rights to a secret ballot; as The New York Times reported, "Business groups have attacked the legislation because it would take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers favored unionization."
On The Live Desk, Karl Rove advanced a falsehood he put forth in a recent Wall Street Journal column by suggesting that President-elect Barack Obama had "trashed the [Bush] administration" for supporting a 2008 stimulus bill. In fact, in remarks that Rove misrepresented in the column, Obama criticized the Bush administration for funding "[a] trillion dollar war in Iraq" with "deficit spending" and for exhibiting "[a] complete disdain for pay-as-you-go budgeting," but he did not criticize the administration for supporting the 2008 stimulus bill.
Committed to the belief that bigger government is always better, Media Matters and Campaign for America's Future are pushing back data showing that the New Deal never solved unemployment. Cutting through their rhetoric, both leftist organizations make the same narrow objection: that the data we use does not count make work government programs like the Civil Conservation Corps as employed.
Now we will always maintain that not counting government work programs as employment is the more accurate measure.
But for the sake of argument, lets cede the point that anyone receiving government employment assistance is 'employed'. Does that end up changing the the impact of New Deal spending on unemployment? No. As the chart above shows, even when using the numbers preferred by the leftist proponents of big government, the story is still the same: Unemployment never made it near the 1970-2008 5.5% normal unemployment rate until well after the U.S. entered World War II.
Got that? Heritage sniffs that the New Deal "never solved unemployment" because it did not bring unemployment from 25 percent all the way down to 5.5 percent.
If the worst the far-right Heritage Foundation can say about the New Deal is that it failed to cut the unemployment rate by 80 percent, that sounds like a pretty solid, if accidental, endorsement to me.
In his Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove took quotes from President-elect Barack Obama out of context to falsely claim that Obama criticized the economic stimulus bill as "deficit spending" that represented "the 'disdain for pay-as-you-go budgeting' in Washington." In fact, Obama used those words in a March 2008 speech while discussing the "policies of the Bush Administration," which "threw the economy further out of balance."
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In a Bloomberg News article headlined "Obama Faces Rebellion From Democrats on Stimulus, Nominations," the only evidence cited in the article of "rebellion from Democrats" on President-elect Obama's "nominations" was that Sen. Dianne Feinstein "said she hadn't been consulted on the pick" of Leon Panetta for CIA director "and preferred a CIA director with more experience in intelligence," and that Rep. John Conyers "took aim at reports that Obama is considering naming CNN reporter Sanjay Gupta as surgeon general." In fact, Feinstein reportedly stated that she was "going to vote for" Panetta. And as a member of the House of Representatives, Conyers will not have a vote on Gupta's confirmation.