The USA Today editorial board denounced Republican candidates' "reckless" tax plans and "iffy economics" that would cost trillions of dollars, "wreck budgets," and reverse the current trend of a shrinking deficit.
The tax plans proposed by many of the Republican presidential candidates have been scrutinized for the negative effects they would have on the national debt and overall economic growth. Although some media outlets have mischaracterized Republican tax proposals as "populist," they in fact disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans.
In a November 11 editorial, USA Today's editorial board lambasted the GOP tax plans and highlighted the disconnect between the idea of Republicans as "the party of fiscal responsibility" and the reality that some of their tax plans would reduce the federal revenue by trillions of dollars. The editorial explained how "[s]tudies and real-world experiments" reveal that the tax-cuts Republicans champion "don't reliably spur growth, but they surely wreck budgets." Moreover, the board noted that Republican "proposals would reverse" the trend of a falling federal deficit under President Obama. From the editorial:
If Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility, as opposed to those big-spending Democrats, you wouldn't know it from the GOP candidates' reckless tax-cut proposals. Donald Trump's plan would reduce federal revenue by a staggering $10 trillion over 10 years, Marco Rubio's by $2.4 trillion and Jeb Bush's by $1.6 trillion, according to analyses by the non-partisan Tax Foundation.
One of the scariest moments in Tuesday's GOP presidential debate came when Ted Cruz suggested his proposal was more responsible because it would cost only about three-quarters of a trillion dollars over 10 years.
Even worse, these numbers depend on the economic growth the candidates claim their plans will create. Studies and real-world experiments show that big tax cuts don't reliably spur growth, but they surely wreck budgets.
Candidates always claim they'll offset revenue losses with spending cuts, yet that promise rarely gets fully detailed, much less fulfilled.
Ironically, the candidates are proposing these plans when the federal deficit is falling, a trend their proposals would reverse.
From the November 11 edition of CNN's New Day:
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From the November 10 edition of Fox Business' Republican Presidential Candidates Debate:
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Fox Business opened the early round of the fourth Republican presidential debate by highlighting a long-debunked myth about the supposedly staggering levels of unemployment in the United States.
During Fox Business' November 10 Republican presidential debate, moderator Trish Regan misleadingly claimed that "[m]ore than 90 million Americans are unemployed or they are not in the workforce altogether" as part of a question directed at presidential hopeful Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ).
Media Matters has repeatedly debunked the claim that almost 90 million Americans are either "unemployed" or not engaged in the labor force, pointing out that the majority of those 90 million individuals are teenage children and retirees. In 2013, PolitiFact rated the exaggerated unemployment figure as "mostly false" and FactCheck.org chided former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) for citing the "grossly misleading statistics" after it gained traction in the media:
For instance, the 92.6 million figure includes 36 million Americans of retirement age -- 65 and older -- 17 million of whom were 75 and older. It also includes 11 million teenagers -- age 16 to 19 -- many of whom aren't looking for jobs. It includes 6.8 million 20- to 24-year-olds, some of whom are in college. Those not in the labor force would also include millions of stay-at-home parents, early retirees and anyone else who didn't need or want to work.
Despite its lack of credibility, the claim that 90 million Americans aren't working has become a favorite talking point of right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh. In August, current Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump claimed that 93 million Americans were "out of work," only to be mockingly corrected by The Wall Street Journal's "Real Time Economics" blog and given a "false" rating by PolitiFact. Even James Pethokoukis of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute criticized the bloated unemployment claim, which he called "non-factual."
See the full exchange between Regan and Christie below:
TRISH REGAN (MODERATOR): Governor, economically, our country is struggling with some of the most anemic growth we've seen on record. More than 90 million Americans are unemployed or they are not in the workforce altogether. The number of people now willing, able, and wanting to go to work is at a level that has fallen to a level that we have not seen since the 1970s. For those that are working, wages aren't budging while other things -- costs -- like housing, remain high.
From the November 5 edition of Fox News' Shepard Smith Reporting:
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Right-wing media outlets are stoking fears that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is on the verge of collapse; arguing that health insurance co-op failures threaten to shutter President Obama's signature health care legislation. But experts argue that ACA continues to control health care costs and expand insurance, and explain that the co-op failures are due to underfunding by Congress.
From the October 29 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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During the October 28 Republican presidential debate hosted by CNBC, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) contested moderator John Harwood's statement that Rubio's tax reform plan disproportionately favors the rich over the middle class. Conservative news outlets rushed to defend Rubio, despite the fact that Harwood was correct.
During the October 28 CNBC Republican presidential debate, several candidates proposed tax and economic policies that were later described as "fantasy," "oddly imaginary," and even "insane" by media outlets because their implementation would inflate existing budget deficits and add trillions of dollars to the national debt.
In anticipation of CNBC's presentation of the third GOP debate, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina attacked the economic policy priorities of Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and the Democratic Party in a recent op-ed for The Wall Street Journal that was filled with inaccurate and misleading information. It was more of the same of what she did during the second GOP debate hosted by CNN, when the network's moderators let her use the stage to make baseless allegations about Planned Parenthood, which provides vital, affordable health care to millions of Americans. Will CNBC moderators let her be just as careless with economic policy facts?
The first Republican presidential debate hosted by a business-themed television network presents an opportunity for debate moderators to closely examine the economic policy positions and records of the GOP field.
On October 28, CNBC will host the third GOP primary debate, which will be split into two parts. The top 10 polling GOP contenders -- Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Rand Paul -- will participate in a two-hour primetime debate, while four other GOP candidates -- Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum -- will participate in a debate a few hours earlier. Both debates will be moderated by CNBC anchors Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick, and CNBC Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood.
According to an October 21 CNBC press release, the debate "will focus on the key issues that matter to all voters -- job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy."
Below are four suggestions for how CNBC's moderators can press the GOP field about the intersections between the economy and: money in politics, climate change, tax cuts for the wealthy, and immigration reform.
The growing crisis of barely-regulated money in politics in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision was brought into stark relief by a recent New York Times report which found that "[j]ust 158 families have provided nearly half the early money for efforts to capture the White House." According to a Media Matters analysis, since March 23, a total of 52 segments on CNBC discussed issues related to money in politics, but campaign finance reform was mentioned just once. CNBC should ask candidates about our country's broken campaign finance system not just because 78 percent of Americans polled favor overturning Citizens United, but also because unlimited campaign contributions help shape negative economic policy outcomes. According to a May 2014 issue brief by the Center for American Progress, campaign contributions and lobbying can significantly increase "rent-seeking," which economists agree "causes a net societal loss that harms the economy." And if CNBC moderators need another reason to ask the candidates about money in politics, they should just look around: the GOP debate will be held at the University of Colorado's Coors Events Center, a venue so-named because of a sizeable contribution made by the Adolph Coors Foundation, an organization involved in funneling dark money to conservative causes.
Here is what recent research suggests: Climate change-fueled wildfires are already straining the budgets of Western states, climate change could reduce the United States' per capita GDP by 36 percent by 2100, and more than $1 trillion worth of property and structures are presently at risk from climate change-fueled sea level rise. The severe economic risks associated with climate change should be more than enough reason for CNBC moderators to question the GOP field about this urgent issue, which could drastically impact businesses of all sizes. Climate change recently became part of the 2016 campaign in a significant way when battleground incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announced her support for the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, citing the interests of the New Hampshire business community. Ayotte joined a group of major corporations and financial decision makers, including 81 signatories to the American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge, mega food companies such as General Mills, Kellogg Company, Mars, Inc., and Nestle USA, leading banking institutions including Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo, and many other major corporations. Asking the GOP field about the economic consequences of climate change would also be an opportunity for the network to improve its coverage of the issue. According to a Media Matters analysis of the first nine months of 2013, more than half of CNBC's coverage of the issue included climate science denial.
Throughout the 2016 presidential primary campaign, GOP candidates have routinely pitched their tax plans as "populist," despite the fact that each and every proposal disproportionately benefits the wealthy. And media have fallen for the claim time and time again. When Donald Trump announced his plan on September 28, Politico claimed in a headline that the billionaire businessman planned to "hike taxes on the wealthy" -- even though the plan calls for cutting the top marginal tax rate, cutting the corporate income tax rate, and eliminating the estate tax. The media outlet had relied solely on Trump's false characterization of his plan to write that headline. In an October 14 article in The New York Times, debate co-moderator Harwood criticized several candidates for describing themselves in populist terms but "sh[ying] away from economic populism," while crafting tax policies that "deliver disproportionate gains to the most affluent." During the debate, Harwood should continue to hold the candidates to this same standard, pushing them to accurately explain what their tax reform plans do and who they benefit.
Falsehoods about immigration routinely begin as conservative media claims before becoming talking points used by GOP presidential candidates. CNBC should be on the lookout for several common false claims about immigration and the economy, and be prepared to factcheck fabricated statistics on the issue. Conservative media often claim that deporting undocumented immigrants would help the economy by saving taxpayers money. In one variation of that claim published by Breitbart News, each deported household would save taxpayers $700,000. In fact, the opposite is true -- the cost of deporting longstanding undocumented immigrants in the United States would cost more than $114 billion, and according to a report from Center for American Progress, the "cost to the overall economy would likely be far more." Other claims to look out for include: false connections between immigration and African-American unemployment rates; the erroneous claim that immigration decreases American wages and increases unemployment; and the baseless argument that immigrant children are straining American school systems and driving up taxes.
From the October 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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One of the moderators of CNBC's October 28 Republican debate, John Harwood, called out several members of the GOP presidential candidate field in a New York Times article that debunked their attempts to frame major tax cuts for the wealthy as "populist" tax reform proposals. Will Harwood hold the candidates to the same standard during the live, televised debate?
Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley attacked Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for supporting progressive income tax rates to fund government investments, falsely claiming that additional tax cuts for the wealthy are a better method of increasing tax revenue.
A recent report from the Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget shows that the federal budget deficit in the past fiscal year declined to its lowest point since 2007 and is now below the 40-year average of budget deficits as a percentage of GDP, debunking years of Fox News misinformation and fearmongering about ballooning federal budget deficits under the Obama administration.