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Responding to criticism of the bonuses paid in 2008 by Wall Street firms -- some of which had received federal bailout funds -- Erin Burnett said during Meet the Press: "The taxpayer money isn't being taken and paid out in the form of bonuses. It goes in a separate pool ... a separate account for banks." However, contrary to Burnett's assertion, money is fungible, and without the federal assistance, Wall Street bonuses would have been much lower, according to several experts.
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski echoed her disputed claim that funding for "welfare programs" included in the recovery bill, such as "food stamps and helping low income people pay for college," would not stimulate the economy. In fact, economists have said that programs that provide aid to state governments and individuals would, in the words of Congressional Budget Office director Douglas W. Elmendorf, "have a significant impact on GDP."
On his Fox News program, Glenn Beck reported as true the idea floated on Forbes.com that a program the Obama administration is reportedly considering should be called the "Bad Asset Repository Fund." Without noting that the reported program has not in fact been named, Beck then ridiculed the creators of the nonexistent name for failing to recognize that the acronym is "BARF."
James Carville, former Clinton advisor and current CNN Contributor, is up today with an op-ed that eviscerates the laughable economic recovery plan offered up by radio host Rush Limbaugh in last week's Wall Street Journal. In particular, Carville notes:
Limbaugh proposes that because the Democrats got roughly 54 percent of the votes to the Republicans' 46 percent, the stimulus package should be allocated along his definition of ideological lines, i.e. 54 percent towards infrastructure improvement and 46 percent toward tax breaks for Limbaugh and his friends.
Get that? Now that Democrats are in power, they should only get to enact the same percentage of their agenda as they won in the popular vote. Isn't Rush generous? As Carville points out, Limbaugh wasn't nearly as generous when Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000.
Limbaugh must have called for the incoming Bush administration to allocate ideas based on the proportion of election returns. I'm sure President Bush and the Republicans in Congress graciously accepted their 49.5 percent share of everything. (Note: We would be much better off right now had this actually happened.)
With 50 percent of the federal government during President Bush's term, Democrats might have reduced the deficit (a truly Clintonista idea). Wall Street might have been more heavily regulated and K Street's lobbyists might not have been running the Capitol. Democrats might have invested money into infrastructure improvements so that bridges didn't collapse or entire cities flood.
Does it surprise anyone that Limbaugh would offer up something so breathtakingly disingenuous?
Conservative columnist Ruben Navarrette pulls a neat trick over at CNN.com. Dishing out the latest, warmed-over GOP talking points about Obama's proposed stimulus package, the RNC-friendly writer claims to be able to read minds. Specifically, he can read the mind of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who last week was at the center of a mini-controversy regarding the proposed expansion of Medicaid funding for family planning services.
Navarrette though, was able to spot very nasty, vile and racist undertones to Pelosi's comments:
When you make the argument that contraception is a cost-saving measure for state and federal government, some might think what you're implying is that the babies who would otherwise have been born were destined to become dependent on welfare and other public services. And for those who think wrongly that welfare dependents only come in two colors -- black and brown -- it's easy to see which births need to be controlled. That's how you connect the dots. Now, maybe that isn't where Pelosi was headed with her comments. It doesn't matter.
Did you follow? According to Navarrette, "some might think" that Pelosi was implying that "black and brown" babies are a bad thing. And that if you "connect the dots," that's where Pelosi's comments were "headed."
But did Pelosi ever say or even imply such a ugly thing? According to Navarrette, "It doesn't matter." He's going to smear her nonetheless.
ABC's Jake Tapper uncritically aired a video clip of Republican Sen. Jim DeMint saying of the economic recovery bill: "This is a spending plan, it's not a stimulus plan. It's temporary and it's wasteful." Tapper did not point out that the Congressional Budget Office stated in its January 26 cost estimate of the House version of the bill that it anticipates implementation of the bill "would have a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years."
The Washington Times falsely claimed that the House-passed economic recovery bill "allows payment of checks to undocumented immigrants," and repeated the falsehood that "much" of the $4.19 billion allocated for a Neighborhood Stabilization Program in the bill "might go to ACORN." In fact, under the bill, undocumented immigrants without Social Security numbers are not eligible for tax credits, and the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding.
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NBC's David Gregory falsely asserted that Social Security will "pay out more than it's taking in by 2010." In fact, according to the 2008 Social Security trustees' report, Social Security will not exceed the income rate before 2017 and will be able to pay full benefits until 2041, after which it will be able to cover between 78 and 75 percent of scheduled benefits through the end of the 75-year period the report's long-range projection covered.
The AP uncritically reported that Sen. Mitch McConnell and "other Republicans" stated that the economic recovery bill "allows Democrats to go on a spending spree unlikely to jolt the economy." But the AP did not point out that the Congressional Budget Office "anticipates that implementation of H.R. 1 would have a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years," or that CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said the bill "would provide a substantial boost to economic activity over the next several years relative to what would occur without any legislation."
The Post's hand-wringing editorial about Obama's stimulus package insists the president needs to do more to placate Republicans; he needs to make more cuts in order to win their bipartisan support. (Why? Is legislation passed without Republican support somehow seen by the Beltway press corps as being not legitimate?)
But get a load of this pretzel logic:
Mr. Obama has sought bipartisan support for the bill. This is to his credit, but by simultaneously courting Republicans and assigning the actual drafting of the bill to Democratic congressional leaders, he has wound up zigzagging between the two parties rather than herding them together. When he seemed to lean toward more tax cuts to win over Republicans, Democrats rebelled and opted for more spending. When they proposed hundreds of millions of dollars for contraceptives and the Mall, Mr. Obama had the controversial provisions removed, but too late to win over Republicans.
Did you follow? Prior to the vote in the House on the stimulus package, Obama pulled provisions Republicans objected to. But according to the Post editorial, it was too late.
Go ahead and re-read the Post passage a second and third time, because the editorial never makes any sense even after multiple readings. The Post urged Obama to listen to Republican complaints about the stimulus package and to act on them. Obama did precisely that prior to the House vote. Yet Republicans, unanimously, still voted against the bill.
So according to the Post, who's to blame for the lack of bipartisan support? Obama, of course.
On CNN's State of the Union, Terry Jeffrey falsely claimed, unchallenged, that in its cost estimate of the recovery bill, the Congressional Budget Office said that "64 percent of this money isn't going to be spent until after September of next year." In fact, including both outlays and tax cuts, CBO has estimated that about 64 percent of the bill would be paid out before the end of September 2010.
Because apparently the newspaper's Op-ed page has an open door policy for conservative writers who get things wrong about the economy (what recession?), and our economic history. (The New Deal failed!)
Notes Dean Baker:
When it comes to writings on economics, the Post's Outlook section is probably best viewed as a jobs program rather than a source for serious ideas.