Without citing any source, Fox claimed that President Obama's visit to Ireland might include discussions of a U.S.-funded "bailout" for Ireland. In fact, such claims are baseless; Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny reportedly briefed Obama on Ireland's position regarding a European Union bailout, but there have been no reports that he did or plans to ask Obama to directly intervene in negotiations on Ireland's behalf.
Fox & Friends Claims Obama Will Discuss "Bailout" For Ireland With Irish PM
Line: "Ireland Is Broke. So It's Asking President Obama For Help. Can We Afford To Help Bail Out Other Countries?" On the May 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, guest host Molly Line said, "Ireland is broke. So it's asking President Obama for help. Can we afford to help bail out other countries?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/23/11]
Varney: "Should America Be Pouring More Money Into A Failed Program Which Is Going To Fail Even More In The Very Near Future?" Later during the broadcast, Line and co-host Steve Doocy invited Fox Business host Stuart Varney on the air to discuss the president's visit to Ireland. Line said, "With our debt here at 14.3 trillion dollars, can we afford to bail out these failing countries?" Varney wondered if the U.S. should "be pouring more money into a failed program which is going to fail even more in the very near future." From the broadcast:
DOOCY: President Obama has landed in Ireland about 90 minutes ago for the start of his European tour where he will be meeting with political leaders to discuss ways that the United States can help Ireland with that big debt.
LINE: Massive debt. But with our debt standing here at 14.3 trillion dollars, can we afford to bail out these failing countries? Let's ask Stuart Varney, host of Varney & Company on the Fox Business network. So can we afford this? We know Ireland is in big trouble --
LINE: -- but we're in trouble, too.
VARNEY: I don't think we don't realize quite how much trouble all of Europe is in. As we speak, Europe is unraveling economically. Greece, Portugal, Ireland -- massive debt. And Greece actually cannot repay that debt. The other two are having real trouble. But secondly, Europe is falling to pieces politically. Voters across the continent are saying, we don't like these bailouts, and we don't like the austerity that comes with them. So the question is, and you're right to pose it, should America be pouring more money into a failed program which is going to fail even more in the very near future? The answer is --
DOOCY: Where's our bailout?
VARNEY: Where's our bailout? Here's an example of how bad it is in Ireland. This is where the president has just arrived. Ireland has total tax revenue of 30 billion euros a year. It's got to pay out 24 billion in interest on its debt.
DOOCY: (laughing) Oh, man.
VARNEY: How can you possibly do that? So are we going to lend more money there? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/23/11]
Kilmeade: "Can We Really Offer Up Even More Of Our Own Money When Our Own Economy Is In So Much Trouble?" Later during the show, co-host Brian Kilmeade interviewed Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus about the president's trip, saying:
KILMEADE: President Obama arriving in Ireland earlier this morning, kicking off a six-day tour of Europe. There is some speculation that we could be offering up a bailout to Ireland, whose economy is in a major league hole, but can we really offer up even more of our own money when our own economy is in so much trouble? Reince Priebus is the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and I ask you that, Mr. Chairman, should the president be saying, "Hey, Ireland, I can help you out?"
PRIEBUS: Well, hopefully he's not going to start out with anymore border talk, but that's a different subject. Listen, I think what the president should do, Brian, is start listening and start looking around when he goes to Europe and really make a determination whether that's the type of country and future that he wants for America. There's a lot to learn in Europe. There's a lot to see there. I think he should go to Greece -- and, you know, half my family lived over there -- and see what happens when your debt skyrockets in comparison to your GDP. That's what he's going to see in Europe. So my whole bit is instead of talking about bailouts, he starts learning and listening, and brings some leadership back here at home and really get serious about where the debts are in this country, and really follow through on his promises on deficits and get people back to work with good paying jobs. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/23/11]
But Irish PM Asked Obama For Support In Trade, Bailout Talks With EU -- Not A US "Bailout"
Belfast Telegraph: The Prime Minister "Will Not Ask Mr Obama To Directly Intervene On The Country's Behalf In Negotiations With Other EU Countries On ... Ireland's Bailout Rate." A May 23 article in The Belfast Telegraph noted that although Prime Minister Enda Kenny will "attempt to make US President Barack Obama an ally in [Ireland's] drive to improve the terms of the IMF/EU bailout," he will not "ask Mr Obama to directly intervene on the country's behalf in negotiations with other EU countries on the proposed cut in Ireland's bailout rate." [The Belfast Telegraph, 5/23/11]
Guardian Blog: "Prime Minister Enda Kenny" Wants To "Get Obama Onside To Try To Improve The Terms Of Ireland's IMF/EU Bailout Deal." From a May 23 post on the Guardian's Ireland Business Blog with Lisa O'Carroll:
It's not an official state visit, but prime minister Enda Kenny will be doing everything in his power to get Obama onside to try to improve the terms of Ireland's IMF/EU bailout deal.
He will brief Obama on Ireland's financial crisis in Dublin today as part of a campaign to put international pressure on the EU to drop its hostility towards the notion of a renegotiated deal.
The talks come just days after the IMF's latest report on Ireland, which was released on Friday and is being widely seen as evidence that the Fund now believes the deal struck last November is unworkable.
The IMF's view is that the EU's plans for a new expanded bailout fund in 2013, which will include haircuts for bondholders, will deter anyone from buying Irish government bonds and therefore the sovereign debt problem (and banking liquidity problem) will continue. [Guardian, Ireland Business Blog with Lisa O'Carroll, 5/23/11]
Bloomberg: Obama Pledged The U.S. "Will 'Do Everything That We Can To Be Helpful' To Aid Ireland's Economic Recovery" And Said U.S. "Wants To Strengthen Trade With Ireland." From a May 23 Bloomberg article:
President Barack Obama, on the first stop of a four-country European trip, pledged the U.S. will "do everything that we can to be helpful" to aid Ireland's economic recovery.
"We're glad to see that progress is being made in stabilizing the economic situation here," he said after meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny in Dublin. "I know it's a hard road, but it's one that the Irish people are more than up to the task in achieving."
Ireland became the second euro-area nation, following Greece, to receive an international bailout last year to end speculation that the cost of propping up its banks would overwhelm the nation's finances. Kenny's government, elected in February, is seeking to cut Ireland's deficit below the EU limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2015 from about 12 percent last year.
Kenny said he and Obama talked about "our seriousness of intent in dealing with" the budget deficit and the economy.
Obama said he told Kenny that the U.S. wants to strengthen trade with Ireland. He said the U.S. is "rooting for Ireland's success and we'll do everything that we can to be helpful on the path to recovery." [Bloomberg, 5/23/11]