CNBC allowed senior contributor and potential Republican Senate candidate Larry Kudlow to conduct a softball interview with Donald Trump. During the February 8 interview, Trump thanked Kudlow for endorsing his tax plan and Kudlow backed Trump's anti-refugee proposal.
When Trump released his tax plan in September, Kudlow responded: "I really like Trump's plan. ... One of the things I just love about it is the 15 percent corporate tax rate." Trump reacted by tweeting, "Highly respected economist @Larry_Kudlow is a big fan of my tax plan--thank you Larry."
During CNBC's October 29 Republican debate, Trump cited Kudlow's support as evidence he has a serious tax plan:
JOHN HARWOOD: Let's be honest. Is this a comic book version of a Presidential campaign?
TRUMP: It's not a comic book, and it's not a very nicely asked question, the way you say that. Larry Kudlow, as an example, who I have a lot of respect for, loves my tax plan. We are reducing taxes to 15 percent. We're bringing corporate taxes down, bringing money back in, corporate inversions. We have $2-1/2 trillion outside of the United States, which we want to bring back in.
When co-moderator John Harwood pointed out that economists have called the plan unrealistic, Trump replied: "Then you have to get rid of Larry Kudlow, who sits on your panel, who is a great guy, who came out the other day and said, 'I love Trump's tax plan.'"
Kudlow affirmed his support for Trump's tax plan following the debate, stating: "I've endorsed Donald's 15 percent corporate tax rate many times. ... He's spot on. And I'm honored that he mentioned me. Honored." The CNBC contributor has tweeted that Trump is a "first-rate person. I could vote for him."
During a February 8 New Hampshire town hall, Trump rebutted criticism from Jeb Bush by citing Kudlow: "I just talked to Larry Kudlow, the great economist, and he was saying Trump has the best tax plan, I'm doing the biggest tax cut."
CNBC tasked Kudlow with interviewing Trump on the February 8 edition of Power Lunch.
During the interview, Trump again thanked Kudlow for supporting his tax plan: "You gave us very high marks, which I appreciate. You've seen it."
Kudlow later backed Trump's plan to ban Syrian refugees, telling him: "In effect, a wartime moratorium. I mean I think that we have to do to protect the homeland."
Kudlow has been interviewing several Republican presidential candidates in New Hampshire for CNBC.
CNBC has allowed Kudlow to remain on its airwaves even as he is "moving toward" running for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut. Veteran journalism experts and two former NBC News presidents have criticized the financial network for allowing Kudlow to use his platform to help his potential campaign.
CNBC anchors have appeared to embrace Kudlow's Senate aspirations. During the February 8 broadcast of Closing Bell, co-anchor Bill Griffeth closed by calling Kudlow "senator" and added, "Was that out loud?" On February 1, Squawk Box co-anchor Joe Kernen called Kudlow "senator-designate."
The channel has claimed that "Kudlow is not a CNBC employee and no longer anchors a show and hasn't since March 28, 2014. He is now a senior contributor." Despite being a purported non-employee, CNBC has had him "report" on the presidential primary, called him one of its "top" contributors, included him in its October debate coverage, and now allows him to throw softballs at Donald Trump.
New polling from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 62 percent of Americans viewed the Republican Party as favoring the rich, compared to 26 percent who see Republicans as favoring the middle class, and 2 percent who see them as favoring the poor. This huge disparity in public perception of Republican policies is often lost on media outlets that fall for lofty GOP rhetoric claiming to care about low- and middle-income Americans.
The Wall Street Journal lambasted President Obama over a slight projected increase of the federal budget deficit in 2016 while praising budget-busting Republican tax plans that The Journal falsely claimed "would spur [economic] growth" enough to make up for revenue shortfalls.
On January 25, The Wall Street Journal used newly released figures from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to falsely claim the federal deficit was "climbing rapidly again" in President Obama's final year in office and to warn that future deficits would "take off" after the conclusion of his presidency. The Journal highlighted that the annual federal deficit is projected to increase from 2.5 percent of GDP in 2015 to 2.9 percent of GDP in 2016, blaming most of this growth on increased outlays to entitlement programs.
While The Journal blamed President Obama for creating a "fiscal time bomb" for his successor, the paper praised Republican tax plans claiming "the various tax reform plans that Republicans are offering would spur growth" (emphasis added):
Perhaps you've heard President Obama's talking point that the federal budget deficit has fallen by two-thirds on his watch. That overlooks that the deficit first soared on his watch, and then fell thanks largely to the GOP House and modest economic recovery, and that as he leaves office he is going to need one more asterisk: The deficit in 2016 has begun to rise again, in dollars and as a share of the economy. And after he leaves office, it takes off.
As ever, the big spending drivers will be entitlements, which are projected to rise to 15% of the economy from the current 13.1% over 10 years. This is the fiscal time bomb that Mr. Obama will leave his successor, thank you very much.
We realize such unhappy realities are not supposed to intrude on a presidential campaign, and the American public long ago dropped spending and deficits as major concerns. Voters care more about the economy and terrorism, and there's good sense to that. The deficit will never vanish without faster economic growth, and the various tax reform plans that Republicans are offering would spur growth. By all means let's debate growth.
The Journal's core claim, that "the deficit will never vanish without faster economic growth" is debatable, but its decision to endorse "the various tax reform plans that Republicans are offering" as a solution for both economic growth and deficit reduction is absurd.
According to tax policy scores from the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation, all of the tax plans promoted by Republican presidential candidates would vastly increase the budget deficit:
According to this GOP-friendly analysis, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's proposals would reduce expected economic growth and job creation over the next decade but also reduce deficit-accumulation by $191 billion to $498 billion. At the same time, according to the Tax Foundation, GOP candidates would oversee stronger economies while vastly accelerating the growth of the federal deficit. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's tax plan could add as much as $12 trillion to the national debt on top of expected accumulation, while Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) plan only ends up reducing the deficit in a "dynamic revenue estimate" that Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has repeatedly derided as "voodoo economics."
Furthermore, The Journal's claim that faster economic growth resulting from tax cuts is what is needed to reduce the federal deficit is not backed up by sound economic research. On August 25, 2015, Republican-appointed CBO Director Keith Hall said "tax cuts do not pay for themselves," and a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report withdrawn by GOP senators found that lower top income tax rates did not correlate with higher economic growth but did find it "associated with greater income disparities." When economists created a model for creating a top tax rate that would be an "effective tool for social insurance," they found raising rates on the top 1 percent of earners to 90 percent would be appropriate.
Right-wing media outlets repeatedly stoke fears of the federal deficit growing too large. Fox News and other right-wing media outlets are notorious for hyping the federal deficit and The Journal's editorial feeds into this narrative.
From the January 15 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:
Loading the player reg...
A Fox Business panel discussing the January 13 Powerball drawing, which could be worth up to $1.5 billion, briefly went off message after one of the network's business analysts advised viewers against buying a ticket by correctly noting "your chances [of winning] are nothing."
On the January 12 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., business reporter Gerri Willis interrupted guest host Charles Payne's monologue on the record-breaking Powerball jackpot by repeatedly saying "don't buy the lottery ticket." Willis explained that she advises her own mother against spending money on the lottery "every week" and reiterated that "your chances [of winning] are nothing" if you do purchase a Powerball entry. Payne repeatedly asked Willis to reconsider her position on playing Powerball, saying, "a buck, you can't put a buck on this thing? A buck? You can't put 2 bucks on this?":
Payne's passionate defense of buying Powerball tickets echoes an earlier segment from Fox News. On the January 9 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday, co-hosts Anna Kooiman and Clayton Morris were joined by supposed lottery "expert" Richard Lustig to discuss the still-growing Powerball prize pool. The segment claimed to offer viewers "proven strategies" to win the lottery, including advice like "buy as many tickets as you can afford" and "never miss a draw":
The January 9 segment was circulated widely on Twitter and derided by several media outlets. Business Insider called it "literally the worst piece of advice about the lottery ever given," explaining that "your likelihood of winning is still incredibly low, even if you buy a bunch of tickets." ThinkProgress Economic Policy Editor Bryce Covert took to Twitter to advise her followers against buying lottery tickets, including the Fox & Friends Saturday segment in a long piece of research explaining how state-sponsored lotteries are essentially "a regressive tax on the poor."
The odds of purchasing a ticket with the winning combination to Wednesday's Powerball drawing are approximately 1 in 292.2 million. The odds of being struck by lightning in a lifetime are 24,000 times greater than that.
Contrary to Fox's previous guidance, you cannot meaningfully increase your odds of winning by purchasing extra tickets or playing every week. Your odds of winning any single drawing never change -- they are always 1 in 292.2 million. And buying enough two-dollar tickets to give yourself winning odds is preposterously expensive -- purchasing $1 million worth of tickets would give you just a 0.17 percent chance of hitting the jackpot, whereas approximately $292 million worth of tickets would still put your winning odds at no better than a coin flip.
During the January 8 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney joined Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in a discussion of Varney's villains of the week, which Varney suggested include Planned Parenthood or alternatively its president, Cecile Richards. Varney based his designation of Cecile Richards as a "villain" on the misleading portrait of the health care provider based on the deceptively-edited videos produced by the anti-choice organization Center For Medical Progress (CMP), named by Media Matters as "Misinformer of the Year." CMP's videos have been debunked by numerous media outlets, including the New York Times, which called the effort "a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal." Multiple investigations into allegations against Planned Parenthood stemming from videos targeting the organization have found no illegal activity taking place.
Varney concluded the segment by saying the organization should be blocked from receiving public funding, to which O'Reilly agreed. Planned Parenthood affiliates receives public funding from a few different government programs, either from Medicaid reimbursement for services provided or in the form of grants to provide sex education, birth control to low-income patients, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and cancer screenings.
From the January 8 edition of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor:
BILL O'REILLY: All right, villain number two.
STUART VARNEY: Planned Parenthood.
O'REILLY: The whole thing?
VARNEY: Well if you want to pick on Cecile Richards, who runs the operation, let's do that.
O'REILLY: All right, let's make her the villain.
VARNEY: That's the villain.
O'REILLY: All right, there she is.
VARNEY: Now, Congress, or the Republicans, want to defund Planned Parenthood for one year. Cecile Richards says we don't want that. We're going to bring in Hillary Rodham Clinton. We are going to support her. She has access to $20 million worth of Planned Parenthood funds. OK, got that.
O'REILLY: What does that mean?
VARNEY: They have a pool of money.
O'REILLY: Planned Parenthood.
VARNEY: Yes, to which -- this is not taxpayer money. But that money is now available to Hillary.
O'REILLY: In donations? In the form of donations? Planned Parenthood is going to fund her campaign this election? [CROSSTALK]
VARNEY: Yes, to some degree.
O'REILLY: All right.
VARNEY: Look, my problem with this goes back to those tapes we saw last year.
VARNEY: I thought that was absolutely inhuman when you saw a woman describing how to crush a fetus, to maximize the body parts.
O'REILLY: The harvesting of the organs.
VARNEY: The harvesting, to crush [a] fetus for the best outcome for the money. [CROSSTALK]
O'REILLY: It was terrible and clear-thinking people -- but I'm not sure about the villain thing because Planned Parenthood would support Hillary Clinton no matter what.
VARNEY: But look, Bill, I don't want a dime of my taxpayer money going to support an organization which is --
O'REILLY: But you just said it wasn't.
VARNEY: No. We're trying to defund Planned Parenthood. That's what the Republicans - [CROSSTALK]
O'REILLY: But that's never going to happen because the Democrats in the Senate will block it.
VARNEY: Irrelevant. I don't want a dime of my money going to any organization that does that kind of thing. And I don't care whether you are on the left or the right.
O'REILLY: OK, do you really feel that Ms. Richards in her belief system, which is abortion on demand, selling harvested body parts from dead babies' fetuses, depending on your point of view, do you think that that in itself is villainous?
VARNEY: Yes. It is villainous to expect me to contribute to it and to force me to contribute to it through taxation. That is villainous.
O'REILLY: They say none of that money goes to abortions or to harvesting of organs.
VARNEY: When you saw that tape of the woman saying here's how you crush the fetus - [CROSSTALK]
O'REILLY: It was appalling It was disgusting.
VARNEY: That's absolutely inhuman. Out of bounds.
O'REILLY: Immediately the president should have signed an executive order immediately freezing any tax money in there. That's what he should have done.
VARNEY: In my opinion, yes.
O'REILLY: But of course it's politics associated with Planned Parenthood.
VARNEY: It's villainy.
From the January 6 edition of Fox News' The Five:
Loading the player reg...
From the December 23 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello:
Loading the player reg...
A Fox News segment on Your World with Neil Cavuto attacked a new rule giving the IRS power to revoke the passports of Americans with delinquent tax bills as government overreach by the Obama administration, ignoring that the rule came from a bill passed by the Republican-controlled Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support.
During the December 22 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto, host Cavuto spoke with Republican strategist Lisa Boothe about the IRS rule which allows the agency to revoke passports from those who owe $50,000 or more in overdue federal income taxes. Cavuto said he had "serious issues" with the rule and criticized the IRS for "ignoring ... terror issues" while "going with far greater zeal after Americans who may be in the rears on their taxes for perfectly legitimate reasons." Boothe agreed, blaming the Obama administration for the rule, and calling the IRS, "way too big, way too corrupt, and wields entirely too much power":
NEIL CAVUTO (HOST): You owe, you're out. The IRS is revoking passports for those delinquent on their taxes to the tone of $50,000 or more. But what if you're fighting the IRS and you have a legitimate beef and you don't think you will end up owing $50,000 or anything? Well be that as it may, that rule is going into effect. But it got us thinking. It happens sometimes. Why not the same deal going after terrorists or those with terror ties because when it comes to that sort of thing, the IRS is all hands off and that worries Lisa Boothe.
I couldn't believe this, first of all, the IRS thing, because I have serious issues with that. People legitimately fight the IRS on claims. But this is a whole other thing. You're going after citizens in this country. You're just bypassing those who might wish ill to this country. Weird. What's going on?
LISA BOOTHE: Weill Neil the juxtaposition is mind-boggling because this is an administration who has actively fought against the idea of revoking passports for American citizens who are fighting alongside with ISIS. The administration has even said on the grounds of the Americans have a right to freely travel. So it's a little mind-boggling how the IRS clearly has no problem with that. And not to mention just that angle, Neil. It's also really upsetting, considering the fact that just the size and scope of the IRS alone. The IRS is already way too big, way too corrupt, and wields entirely too much power.
CAVUTO: And now we have the IRS ignoring such terror issues and ties here and going with far greater zeal after Americans who might be in arrears on their taxes for perfectly legitimate reasons. That, that's weird.
BOOTHE: It is weird. And Neil I think it speaks to the reason why almost 60 percent of Americans disapprove of President Obama's handling of ISIS and you've got 70 percent of Americans who believe the country is on the wrong track because of the ridiculousness of the federal government, the ridiculousness of the Obama administration in particular. And Neil we're also talking about an organization who in seemingly intentionally went after conservatives with various ideologies --
BOOTHE: -- based off of ideology. And Neil an organization that is so dumb, an organization that has sent out the wrong forms to 800,000 Obamacare employees who completely lost tens of millions of dollars of an Obamacare slush fund. It just went missing. So we're talking about an incredibly incompetent agency as it is.
Both Cavuto and Boothe neglected to mention that the IRS provision was approved overwhelmingly by the GOP-controlled Congress. The IRS rule was a provision of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which passed both chambers of the Republican-controlled Congress this December, getting more than 80 percent approval in the Senate and House.
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:
Loading the player reg...
From the November 10 edition of Fox Business' Republican Presidential Candidates Debate:
Loading the player reg...
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:
Loading the player reg...
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.