Rocky uncritically repeated Rove's misleading claims on tax cuts and Democratic opposition to Bush's Iraq strategy

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

An article in the Rocky Mountain News about White House adviser Karl Rove's speech to Colorado Republicans parroted Rove's misleading talking points that praised President Bush's economic policies and blasted Democrats' policies as unsupportive of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A March 3 Rocky Mountain News article about White House political adviser Karl Rove's recent appearance at a Republican fundraiser in Denver uncritically repeated Rove's misleading conservative talking points praising the effects of President Bush's tax cuts on the economy, promoting permanent tax cuts as necessary to balance the budget, and criticizing Democratic opposition to Bush's Iraq strategy as unsupportive of troops.

According to the article by reporters Lynn Bartels and Hector Gutierrez, Rove asserted at a March 2 fundraising dinner that the U.S. economy is "doing pretty well ... [b]ecause this president with a Republican Congress had the courage to cut taxes at just the right time." However, as Media Matters for America previously has noted, critics have challenged the claim that Bush's tax cuts were responsible for economic growth.

For example, a March 27, 2006, report by the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) concluded that "[a] more comprehensive look at the evidence, however, indicates that, while the dividend and capital gains tax cuts were indeed correlated with the upturn in the recover[y], they were not the cause of the improvement" (italics in original). The report further noted that "as of early 2003, various expert observers, including [current] Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal, were predicting that GDP [gross domestic product] and investment growth would accelerate in 2003." The CBPP report also noted that "the [p]resident's own Council of Economic Advisors [CEA] was predicting a significant increase in employment growth starting in 2003, even without additional tax cuts" but that "actual employment at the end of 2005 was significantly below the level CEA predicted it would reach without the tax cuts" (italics in original).

The News also quoted Rove as saying, "The rallying cry for Republicans aiming for a balanced budget in five years is to make the tax cuts permanent." Again, the News did not note, as Media Matters did, that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in 2005 that making the tax-cut policies permanent would increase the deficit by $155 billion in 2011, and by at least $260 billion in each of the remaining years through 2015. More recently, on March 2, Reuters reported that Robert Greenstein, executive director of the CBPP, called Bush's 2008 budget proposal "fiscally irresponsible." According to Reuters, Greenstein "highlighted the $1.4 trillion in higher deficits between 2008-2017 than under current policy, mainly because Bush would extend tax cuts set to expire in 2011."

Furthermore, U.S. News & World Report noted on February 5 that the CBO's preliminary analysis of Bush's 2008 budget "shows the budget moving into balance after 2010, but there is a key difference from the Bush budget: The CBO assumes the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts will expire, thereby bringing in a load of new tax revenue. The Bush budget assumes the tax cuts stay in place." The Washington Post similarly reported on February 5, "According to the CBO, a vibrant economy has indeed produced a gusher of revenue over the past two years that could help turn the nation's $248 billion deficit into a $170 billion surplus by 2012. But if the tax cuts and other expiring tax provisions are extended, the CBO predicts, the deficit would hit $146 billion in 2012 and grow thereafter as health costs skyrocket and the baby-boom generation retires."

The News also uncritically quoted Rove's criticism of congressional Democrats regarding the Iraq war, without reporting the publicly stated Democratic position that made Rove's remark inaccurate:

On the war, Rove said Democrats try to have it both ways.

"How can you say you support the troops and yet you want to deny the funds necessary to do the job and protect them in battle?" Rove said.

However, the News did not report Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) February 28 statement on funding U.S. troops in Iraq: "Let me be very clear: Congress will fund our troops." Pelosi also told the Los Angeles Times, "We will fund the troops as long as they are in harm's way." The Times further reported that "Democratic leaders in the Senate have never been enthusiastic about using congressional authority over funding the military to tie up the deployment." And while The Miami Herald reported on February 28 (accessed through the Nexis database) that U.S. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) "was poised to tie troop readiness to funding in a $93.4 billion war-spending bill requested by the White House," the same article reported that "many Democrats are wary of going that far; even Murtha's ally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she won't hamstring war money in a way that hurts troops."

From the March 3 Rocky Mountain News article "Rove, Pelosi both in Denver to rally party loyalists," by Lynn Bartels and Hector Gutierrez:

Master GOP strategist Karl Rove, who was born in Denver, rallied nearly 800 Republicans Friday night at a "Let's Paint the State Red" dinner at the Denver Marriott South.

"So, what do we do?" Rove said to the audience, acknowledging last November's losses to Democrats in Congress. "I think it's pretty simple. We pick ourselves up off the mat, we stand on principle and we can get back in the fight."

Republicans applauded in approval. "And the reason is because over the long haul the American people agree with our philosophy, our vision and our principles more than they do the other party," Rove said.

President Bush's close adviser touted his chief's economic record despite the setbacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the war on terror, spikes in oil prices and corporate scandals.

And Rove didn't hold back his accolades for Bush's 2003 tax cuts.

"And yet look at our economy today. It's doing pretty well," Rove said to more applause. "And why? Because this president with a Republican Congress had the courage to cut taxes at just the right time."

A new goal for the GOP, Rove said, will be to balance the federal budget by 2012.

"And we can do it because the economy is growing, and the revenues are coming in," he said.

The rallying cry for Republicans aiming for a balanced budget in five years is to make the tax cuts permanent, Rove said.

On the war, Rove said Democrats try to have it both ways.

"How can you say you support the troops and yet you want to deny the funds necessary to do the job and protect them in battle?" Rove said.

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