Right-Wing Media Aren't Concerned About Helping The Poor, But They Sure Want To Help The Rich

››› ››› MIKE BURNS

As income disparities continue to increase, and the effective tax rate paid by the rich remains at historic lows, right-wing media figures work hard to make sure none of that changes. They routinely attack the poor and programs designed to assist them, while simultaneously extolling the rich and defending them against any attempt to get them to pay their fair share of taxes.

Conservative Media Frequently Deride The Plight Of The Poor As Well As Programs To Aid Them ...

... But Fiercely Defend The Rich ...

... Often Relying On Misinformation To Do So

Conservative Media Frequently Deride The Plight Of The Poor As Well As Programs To Aid Them ...

Limbaugh Suggested That Rather Than Raise The Minimum Wage, We Should "Get Rid Of It." From the February 2 edition of Premiere Radio Networks´ The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: I got an email during the break, and this is not a criticism of the email. But it is a perfect illustration of what's happening here in the Republican primary. I have a story. It is from David Espo at the Associated Press. Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney renewed -- now listen to me folks -- Mitt Romney renewed his support yesterday for automatic increases in the federal minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, a position sharply at odds with traditional Republican business allies, conservatives, and party senior lawmakers.

By the way, folks, have you seen the teenage unemployment rate in this country. Well, can you say 25 percent. I mean, it's 16, 18 -- it's way, way up there. The teenage unemployment rate -- it's a record highs. Whatever it is, it is a record high. And why do you think that is in part? It's the minimum wage. Businesses are having enough trouble as it is in this economy, and then to be told to go out and higher a bunch of people who have no experience and pay them an arbitrary amount of money that has no relationship to the business' operation, cost structure, is literally absurd. And so the only option the small businessman has is not hiring anybody. You can price -- it's sort of like raising tax rates. And these dummkopfs in Washington think: Well, you've got to raise the tax rates, and these taxpayers just sit out there like a bunch of idiots and they'll pay it.

Every time tax rates are increased, guess what? Revenue goes down. If you want more of an activity you cut taxes on it. If you want less of an activity you raise taxes. If you want more homes sold then you allow the interest on the mortgage to be deducted. If you don't want a lot of homes to be sold take that deduction away. If you want to spur teenage hiring lower the minimum wage or get rid of it. If you want to retard teenage hiring, if you want to slow down, if you want limit the amount of teenagers getting jobs raise the cost of hiring them. And that's what an increase in the minimum wage is.

The minimum wage, the stock conservative answer to it is get rid of it. It certainly isn't to raise it. It certainly isn't to tie it to the cost of living index. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/2/12, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh: The Safety Net Is A "Democrat Vote Buying Technique" That Is "Robbing [People] Of Their Humanity." From the February 2 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: In the last two days we have Romney stepping in it with a quote that's made to order to be taken out of context. And it has been taken out of context. "I don't care about the poor, I'm not concerned with the poor. They have a safety net. What I want to do is fix the safety net if there's a problem." No, no. Governor, no, no, no, no. The safety net is precisely what is creating dependency and destroying people's lives. It's robbing them of their humanity. The safety net needs to be totally reevaluated. It's a Democrat vote buying technique. Governor, no, it doesn't need to be fixed. It needs to be totally redone with an entirely different purpose behind it. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/2/12, via Media Matters]

O'Reilly Named "True Causes Of Poverty": "Poor Education, Addiction, Irresponsible Behavior, And Laziness." From the February 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

BILL O'REILLY: The mistake [Romney] is making is not dealing with the true causes of poverty, thereby showing real concern for the impoverished. That's what all politicians should do. And the causes are these: poor education, addiction, irresponsible behavior, and laziness. That's right, far-left people. Some folks are lazy. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 2/2/12, via Media Matters]

Radio Host Boortz: "The Poor" Are The "Toenail Fungus" Of America. In a February 1 Twitter post, right-wing talk radio host and frequent Fox News guest Neal Boortz wrote:

boortz

[Twitter, 2/1/12, via Media Matters]

Hannity Said He "Would Never Want To Be Dependent On Food Stamps," Unlike Those With An "Entitlement Mindset." From the February 1 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:

HANNITY: I don't want a thing from the government. Nothing. I wish I could pull out of Social Security today. I don't want -- I would never want to be on a government housing program, I would never want to be dependent on food stamps, I would never want the government to step in so I could keep my home.

[...]

HANNITY: The thing we've got to deal with more than anything else in this country is deal with this entitlement mindset, the government's going to help me in every aspect of my life. And you by leading by example I think's going to go a long way. We need more Americans like you. You're not what's wrong with this country. Believe me. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 2/1/12, via Media Matters]

Ted Nugent: Cut "Social Welfare Programs" Because Poverty Is Based On "Poor Decisions" "We Need To Punish." In his December 16, 2011, Washington Times column, Ted Nugent wrote that "[b]eing poor is largely a choice, a daily, if not hourly decision," and that "we need to punish poor decisions instead of rewarding them. We cannot continue to offer a safety blanket to those Americans who make poor choices. The fewer social welfare programs, the better." [The Washington Times, 12/16/11]

Limbaugh Called Poor Children Receiving Free School Meals "Wanton Little Waifs And Serfs Dependent On The State." On the December 12, 2011, edition of his radio show, Limbaugh said:

LIMBAUGH: State of Missouri is receiving a $2 million federal grant to help feed needy children near Kansas City and St. Louis during the summer. $2 million that we don't have to feed needy children near Kansas City and St. Louis during the summer. The state has operated a pilot project in Kansas City, plans to expand it with funds from the Department of Agriculture. The funding will be divided between Kansas City and St. Louis. State officials say they will be able to help 10,000 children in the St. Louis, Kansas City, Hickman Mills, and Center school districts.

Now, what did I just say? Nobody ever won anything defending it. Well, here you go. What are we trying -- we're trying to defend against this profligate spending. But we're not on offense. We're just trying to stop it. We're like at the Alamo. We're just trying to stop it. We're constantly on defense everywhere, 'cause we don't use government the way they do. They're constantly on offense, constantly making a move, constantly trying to make it bigger. We're just saying, Stop, stop, damn it, stop! We're not even trying to advance anything. Very troubling. So this is how it works, you see.

If you feed them, if you feed the children three square meals a day during the school year, how can you expect them to feed themselves in the summer? So you start out with breakfast for the kids that can't afford that, which happened when I was in junior high. I remember when it started. I remember the school making a big announcement over the PA, and I'm not lying to you, and I said, What the hell is this? I eat breakfast at home. What is this? Opening the cafeteria at seven o'clock, and it was like a continental, it was nothing hot, it was rolls and bread and butter and stuff like that. And then of course it expanded. And we learn -- now it includes dinner in Memphis and other places during the school year.

OK, then school ends, and of course how can we expect them to feed themselves in the summer when they haven't had to for nine months? So this is how it works. They demand to be fed during the summer. Or their acolytes demand that they be fed during the summer. Because, after all, we've conditioned them to not feeding themselves. Plus their parents don't have to take the responsibility of feeding them, and their parents don't have to take responsibility of paying, not directly, for them to be fed. So it's just natural. Mr. Limbaugh, these children simply are ill-equipped to feed themselves in the summertime. It's the only compassionate thing we can do. Yeah, well, who made that possible? You, Mr. New Castrati, by trying to make people helpless, wanton little waifs and serfs dependent on the state. Pure and simple. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 12/12/11, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh On Bill To Provide Diapers To Low-Income Parents: "This Is ... Indoctrination." Discussing a proposed bill that would provide free diapers to low-income parents, Limbaugh said, "This is taking indoctrination to steps I never dreamed of. Indoctrinate babies early and often in daycare, and you get them in daycare by promising free diapers." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/21/11, via Media Matters]

Fox's Charles Payne Explained Poverty: After Thanksgiving People "Take Their Welfare Checks And Bum-Rush" Walmart. On the October 3, 2011, edition of Hannity, Fox contributor Charles Payne said: "After everyone's eaten their Thanksgiving meal, right, go to Walmart at midnight. You're going to see why a lot of people don't have money. They're going to take their welfare checks and bum-rush the security guard, knock him down, and give away all their money." [Fox News, Hannity, 10/3/11, via Media Matters]

Fox's Stuart Varney On Low-Income Americans: "Many Of Them Have Things -- What They Lack Is The Richness Of Spirit." During the August 25, 2011, edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co. at Night, host Stuart Varney hyped a Heritage Foundation study showing that many Americans in poverty own appliances, saying: "The image we have of poor people as starving and living in squalor really is not accurate. Many of them have things -- what they lack is the richness of spirit. That's my opinion." [Fox Business, Varney & Co. at Night, 8/25/11, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh Derided People Who Rely On Social Safety Net, Suggested They're Taking A "Vacation." Limbaugh asserted that "the safety net has become a hammock," adding that "our safety net's become a vacation destination." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/17/11, via Media Matters]

Varney Thinks Tax Cut For The Poor Is A "Welfare Scheme." Stuart Varney complained about the "8 million" poverty-stricken seniors and disabled people receiving benefits to help pay for basic necessities, then attacked the Earned Income Tax Credit: "I'm going to call it a welfare scheme." In fact, the EITC is a tax credit available to working low-income individuals and families, not a subsidy program like many traditional welfare programs. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/15/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Business Pitted The "Takers" Of "Government Handouts" Against The "Makers." After a National Bureau of Economic Research study concluded that social safety net programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, were highly effective at keeping people out of poverty, Fox Business launched a week-long series pitting the "takers" of "government handouts" against the "makers" in the economy. [Media Matters, 5/24/11]

Fox Business Scolded Poor People For Not Being Ashamed Of Their Poverty. During the May 19 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney attacked anti-poverty programs as evidence that the U.S. now has an "entitlement mentality." Fox commentator Charles Payne then scolded people in poverty for not being "embarrassed" about needing public assistance:

PAYNE: Krystal [Ball], there's no doubt that these are good programs. I think the real narrative here, though, is that people aren't embarrassed by it. People aren't ashamed by it. In other words, the there was a time when people were embarrassed to be on food stamps; there was a time when people were embarrassed to be on unemployment for six months, let alone demanding to be on it for more than two years. I think that's what Stu is trying to say, is that, when the president says Wall Street is at fault, so, you are entitled to get anything that you want from the government, because it's not really your fault. No longer is the man being told to look in the mirror and cast down a judgment on himself; it's someone else's fault. So food stamps, unemployment, all of this stuff, is something that they probably earned in some indirect way. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 5/19/11, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh: "Do You Know Any Low-Income People Who Want To Get A Better Job? ... Do They Even Want To Work?" On the April 21, 2011, edition of his radio show, host Limbaugh said, "Do you know any low-income people who want to get a better job? ... Do they even want to work?" [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/21/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Hosts Hyped Appliance Ownership To Downplay Hardship Of Poverty In America. In July 2011, Fox News hosts cited a Heritage Foundation report about the ownership of appliances among the poor in America to downplay the hardships of the poor in the U.S. On the July 20, 2011, edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly asked, "So, how can you be so poor and have all this stuff?" [Media Matters, 7/22/11]

Fox's Gary B. Smith: "It's Not Just Wrong To Say Minimum Wage Is Good ... I Think It's Irresponsible." On the September 3, 2011, edition of Fox News' Bulls & Bears, Fox News contributor Gary B. Smith claimed that "it's not just wrong to say minimum wage is good, it's -- I think it's irresponsible." [Fox News, Bulls & Bears, 9/3/11, via Media Matters]

Fox's Eric Bolling: "You Can't Disagree That [Social Security] Is A Ponzi Scheme." During the September 8, 2011, broadcast of Fox & Friends, guest host Eric Bolling and host Brian Kilmeade discussed Gov. Rick Perry's (R-TX) claim that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Bolling concluded that "you can't disagree that [Social Security] is a Ponzi scheme." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/8/11, via Media Matters]

Wall Street Journal's Steve Moore: "How Do You Put More People To Work By Giving People More Money Not To Be Working?" During the September 5, 2011, broadcast of Fox News' America's Newsroom, guest host Gregg Jarrett and The Wall Street Journal's Steve Moore dismissed the stimulative effect of unemployment insurance by asking, "How do you put more people to work by giving people more money not to be working?" [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/5/11, via Media Matters]

Glenn Beck Likened Food Stamps To "Cakes and Circuses" Used By Roman Emperors To "Control The People." During the June 7, 2011, broadcast of Fox News' Glenn Beck, which has since been canceled, host Glenn Beck claimed that food stamps were comparable to "cakes and circuses" used by Roman Emperors to "control the people." From the broadcast:

BECK: Cakes and circuses, think of this. Given the cakes, can anybody give me an example of cakes being handed out by our government? Anybody hand -- if you are the emperor of Rome you gave people cake. Well, we are not giving people cakes now, but food -- food stamps. You want to control the people, the emperor knew, give the people cake and then entertain them. Isn't it interesting how entertainment -- we're not, really, really. What difference -- what are you going to do about this? [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 6/7/11, via Media Matters]

O'Reilly: The Social Compact Is "The Government ... Tak[ing] From The Wealthy And Giv[ing] To The Poor." During the April 18, 2011, broadcast of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that the "social compact" or "social contract" has helped lead to the U.S. facing "ruin because it owes more than $14 trillion dollars." He further claimed the social compact means "the government must take from the wealthy and give to the poor." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 4/18/11, via Media Matters]

O'Reilly: Affordable Housing Is "Social Engineering," An "Idealistic Jihad." On the May 26, 2011, edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly said:

O'REILLY: Barney Frank was consistent from the jump by saying he wanted these agencies -- Fannie May and Freddie Mac -- to be used to get as many poor people homes as possible. This is social engineering. That's what Barney wanted. I'm assuming that his boyfriend wanted that as well. So they're on an idealistic jihad using two government agencies to do what they think is the right thing to do. It didn't work. The poor people couldn't pay their mortgages, and then the whole thing collapsed. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5/26/11, via Media Matters]

Hannity: "Poor In America Is Not Poor Like Around The Rest Of The World." On the December 5, 2011, edition of his radio show, Hannity said:

HANNITY: Poor people in America, relatively speaking, comparatively with poor people around the world -- I've been to the poorest public housing units in the country. I went to Techwood Homes, which was the first one in Atlanta, Peppermill in Atlanta. My cousin was a cop in Far Rockaway. I've been to the south Bronx and some of the housing units there. And as bad as the neighborhood, as some of these neighborhoods are, people have running water and plumbing and they have kitchens and they have microwaves and big screen TVs and stereos and most people have cars. They may not be brand new cars, but they're cars. When I didn't have a lot of money I bought $300 cars, and I used to fix them myself. So poor in America is not poor like around the rest of the world. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 12/5/11, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh: "Kids Losing Weight Because They're Starving To Death" Is A Benefit Of School Being Out For The Summer. From the June 16, 2010, edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: Then, a companion story from AOL News: "Record Number of US Kids Facing Summer of Hunger." "With the sc-rewl year ending in communities across America, more than 16 million children face a summer of hunger." Now, Michelle Obama told us they're all so fat and out of shape and overweight that a summer off from government eating might be just the ticket.

Could it be possible -- "while classes were in session, they relied on free or discount" --

This, of course, takes into no account that the parents, I guess, just can sit around and let their kids starve. Why if the kids don't do it, they're gonna starve -- if the schools don't do it, the kids are going to starve.

"The children caught in the gap will likely spend the next few months cadging leftovers from their neighbors, chowing down on cheap junk, lining up with their families at food banks that are already overmatched or simply learning to live with a constant headache, growling stomach and chronic fatigue. When school rolls around again in the fall, they will be less healthy and less ready to learn than their peers."

God, this is just -- we can't escape these people. We just can't escape them. They live in the utter deniability of basic human nature. They actually have it in their heads somehow that parents are so rotten that they will let their kids go hungry and starve, unless the schools take care of it.

[...]

You know, one of the benefits of school being out, in addition to your kids losing weight because they're starving to death out there because there's no school meal being provided, one of the benefits of school being out, college campi being vacant this time of year, is that our audience levels go up. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/16/10, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh To Children: Can't Find Food? "There's Always The Neighborhood Dumpster." From the June 16, 2010, edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: I think, you know what we're going to do here, we're going to start a feature on this program: "Where to find food." For young demographics, where to find food. Now that school is out, where to find food. We can have a daily feature on this. And this will take us all the way through the summer. Where to find food. And, of course, the first will be: "Try your house." It's a thing called the refrigerator. You probably already know about it. Try looking there. There are also things in what's called the kitchen of your house called cupboards. And in those cupboards, most likely you're going to find Ding-Dongs, Twinkies, Lays ridgy potato chips, all kinds of dip and maybe a can of corn that you don't want, but it will be there. If that doesn't work, try a Happy Meal at McDonald's. You know where McDonald's is. There's the Dollar Menu at McDonald's and if they don't have Chicken McNuggets, dial 911 and ask for Obama.

There's another place if none of these options work to find food; there's always the neighborhood dumpster. Now, you might find competition with homeless people there, but there are videos that have been produced to show you how to healthfully dine and how to dumpster dive and survive until school kicks back up in August. Can you imagine the benefit we would provide people? [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/16/10, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh Criticized Homeless For Having Cell Phones, Blamed "Giant Welfare State." From the March 6, 2009, edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: In fact, there's a great picture out there. Michelle, my belle, Obama, once again sleeveless. Was it Time magazine or Newsweek did a story this week -- maybe The New York Times -- on how you, too, can have highly toned arms like Michelle Obama. After the State of the Union show, a bunch of stories -- "Now, you, too, can have highly toned arms and get rid of the" -- whatever they call these flab things under there. Wings, whatever.

There's a picture of Michelle Obama at a homeless shelter in Washington. She's on the other side of the glass, you know, where the server would be serving McNuggets at McDonald's. And she's serving food to the homeless. And the homeless and the poor are showing up taking pictures of her with their cell phones. Yeah, I just saw the picture. We'll put it at RushLimbaugh.com. This is the poor and the War on Poverty.

[...]

LIMBAUGH: What we have, ladies and gentlemen, is a giant welfare state that's in the process of being manufactured, that the Democrat Party will preside over forever. Because everybody or enough people are going to need the goodwill of Democrats in power in order to get by. Like, you're going to have to see the first lady behind the counter at McDonald's when you go in there as your poverty-stricken day drags on -- take a picture with your cell phone while you go in there and get your McNuggets or whatever's being handed out that day. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 3/6/09, via Media Matters]

Boortz: "Single Mothers Receiving Public Assistance" Are "Welfare Broodmares." From the August 19, 2008, edition of Cox Radio Syndication's The Neal Boortz Show:

BOORTZ: Two stories right here, I think gives us an idea of what, you know, life in this world and life in the United States is going to be like for our children. The first story. In Georgia, as well as, I dare say, most other states in the nation, the least -- or the less you can afford to have a child, the more likely it is you're going to have one. In Georgia, welfare broodmares -- that is also described as single mothers receiving public assistance -- are having babies at three times the rate, three times the rate of mothers who do not need public assistance. If you're on welfare, 162 births per 1,000 women. If you're not on welfare, 53 births per 1,000 women. Three to one. Three to one.

And then on a world basis, the world's poorest countries have one thing in even greater abundance: people. Nearly -- this is the Population Reference Bureau -- nearly all of the world population growth is now concentrated in the poorer countries. 1.2 billion people live in countries classified as developed by the United Nations. 5.5 billion live in less-developed regions. There is little population growth in the developed countries. In many of the developed countries, there is even a decline. By 2050, the global population -- you have a child, OK? Do you have a child right now? A 10-year-old. So how old will that child be by 2050? Fifty-two years old. If you just had a child in the last week, 42 years old. By 2050, global population up to 9.3 billion, the population share in the less-developed countries will be 86 percent, according to current birth rates -- 86 percent. We are going to have a situation, when your child right now reaches middle age, where 14 percent of the people in the world are supporting the other 86 percent. And those figures are reflected in this country as well. The women who cannot afford to have a child have them. The women who can, don't. Hey, look forward to your future. [Cox Radio Syndication, The Neal Boortz Show, 8/19/08, via Media Matters]

Boortz Called The People Of New Orleans Displaced By Hurricane Katrina "Garbage" And "Worthless Parasites." From the January 30, 2008, edition of Cox Radio Syndication's The Neal Boortz Show:

BOORTZ: I'm reading here about John Edwards. Oh, what a wimp. You know what he's gonna do now? He's gonna, he's going to continue work with Habitat Humanity, or for Humanity, at the volunteer-fueled rebuilding project at Musicians' Village. Where's that? Oh yeah, New Orleans, is that New Orleans? I like this: "Edwards' campaign will end the way it began 13 months ago, with the candidate pitching in to rebuild lives in a city still ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Edwards embraced New Orleans as a glaring symbol of what he described as a Washington that didn't hear the cries of the downtrodden." Cries of the downtrodden, my left butt cheek. That wasn't the cries of the downtrodden; that's the cries of the useless, the worthless. New Orleans was a welfare city, a city of parasites, a city of people who could not and had no desire to fend for themselves. You have a hurricane descending on them and they sit on their fat asses and wait for somebody else to come rescue them. "It's somebody else's job to get me out of here. It's somebody else's job to save my life. Not mine. Send me a bus, send me a limo, send me a boat, send me a helicopter, send me a taxi, send me something. But you certainly don't expect me to actually work to get myself out of this situation, do you? Haven't you been watching me for generations? I've never done anything to improve my own lot in life. I've never done anything to rescue myself. Why do you expect me to do that now, just because a levee broke?"

[...]

BOORTZ: Listen, listen. When these Katrina so-called refugees were scattered about the country, it was just a glorified episode of putting out the garbage. [Cox Radio Syndication, The Neal Boortz Show, 1/30/08, via Media Matters, emphasis added]

... But Fiercely Defend The Rich ...

Laura Ingraham Complained That Raising The Tax Rate For The Wealthy Is "Demoniz[ing] The Rich." On the April 12, 2011, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham referred to a plan to raise the taxes of the wealthiest Americans as a plan that "demoni[zes] the rich." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/12/11, via Media Matters]

Peter Johnson Jr.: "Most Americans Say" That "Patriotism Is Paying Less Taxes." On the April 18, 2011, edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. said: "What we have on this tax day is a White House that says, 'If you don't pay more taxes, then you're not being patriotic.' There's a lot of other Americans, and most Americans, who say the opposite: that patriotism is paying less taxes." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/11, via Media Matters]

O'Reilly: "If You Tax Achievement, Some Of The Achievers Are Going To Pack It In." On the September 19, 2011, edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly said:

O'REILLY: Here's the unintended consequence of Mr. Obama's revenue-enhancing plan. And I must tell you, I want the Feds to get more revenue. I don't want to starve them, as some people do. We need a robust military, a good transportation system, and protections all over the place. But if you tax achievement, some of the achievers are going to pack it in. Again, let's take me. My corporations employ scores of people. They depend on me to do what I do so they can make a nice salary. If Barack Obama begins taxing me more than 50 percent -- which is very possible -- I don't know how much longer I'm going to do this. I like my job, but there comes a point when taxation becomes oppressive. Is the country really entitled to half a person's income? [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/19/11, via Media Matters]

  • Limbaugh Pronounced Himself "Ecstatic" About O'Reilly "Fighting Back" And "Defending" The Rich. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/20/11, via Media Matters]

Cavuto: Ad By Millionaires Supporting Tax On Millionaires Is "Taking Class Warfare Viral." From the September 19, 2011, edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Taking class warfare viral. A new ad from a group called Patriotic Millionaires attacking Republican lawmakers who also happen to be millionaires for fighting against tax hikes on millionaires. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 9/19/11, via Media Matters]

Doocy: Obama's Jobs Bill Is "Class Warfare ... One Of Those Soak The Rich Things." During the September 13, 2011, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said:

DOOCY: So even though the president of the United States last Thursday said, you know, there's not going to be any class warfare, once again, it is class warfare. It's one of those soak the rich things, where if you make $200,000 or more, like Brian said, your itemized deductions when it comes to charitable things? Gonna be impacted. Your home mortgage? Impacted. Stuff like that. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/13/11, via Media Matters]

Kilmeade On Taxes: "We Should Be Supporting" The "Mega-Wealthy," Not "Punish[ing] Them." On the July 22, 2011, edition of Fox & Friends, guest Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said that "we can't ... continue to cut taxes for the mega-wealthy in this country when we have a debt and deficit problem." Co-host Brian Kilmeade replied: "The mega-wealthy are paying the majority of taxes for the entire nation, and they're the ones who are going to bring us out of this. You would think, rather than punish them, we should be supporting them." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/22/11, via Media Matters]

Doocy: Taxing The Wealthy Is "So Last Week." From the July 26, 2011, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DOOCY: One word he did not use: veto. Remember, a couple weeks ago [Obama] said he would veto cut, cap, and balance. However, he did not say he would veto John Boehner's approach.

CARLSON: I think that's significant because a lot of people have said, Let's just put something before the president and dare him to veto it, because as we get closer to that August 2 date, you think he's going to veto that? I mean, then really everything hangs on his shoulders.

KILMEADE: You see, I think the biggest story is what he did -- he just said again that people have to pull their fair share. Equal shared sacrifice. 51 percent of the country isn't paying any taxes at all, and you have the people who are paying the bulk of the taxes being called out for not paying more than they're currently paying.

DOOCY: The interesting is, you've got to wonder whether or not they loaded an old speech in the teleprompter, because there was the president talking about the millionaires and billionaires are going to have to pay bigger taxes. That's not part of the Boehner plan. That's not part of the Harry Reid plan.

CARLSON: But those are buzzwords that work. Those are buzzwords that they've tested that they show that they work.

DOOCY: I know, but it's -- it's so last week. It's as if he hasn't gotten caught up to the headlines. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/26/11, via Media Matters]

Hannity: "If Rich People Don't Buy Yachts" Or "Planes" Or "Go On Expensive Vacations, Guess Who's Gonna Suffer." On the July 11, 2011, edition of his Fox News show, Hannity said:

HANNITY: I drove 200, 300 dollar cars for years. I worked in construction, I washed dishes, I waited tables, I tended bar, I was banging nails, I was painting houses. And you know what, Doug? I was glad rich people hired me, rich people went out to dinner. If rich people don't buy yachts -- remember the yacht tax? If rich people don't buy planes -- all the demonization of private plans. If rich people don't go on expensive vacations, guess who's gonna suffer. All the people the Democrats seem to care the most about -- they're killing the opportunity for people to succeed. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/11/11, via Media Matters]

Doocy: Obama Is Engaging In "Class Warfare" By "Talking About ... Soaking The Rich." From the May 13, 2011, edition of Fox News Fox & Friends:

VARNEY: You can easily demagogue this, can't you? You're taking money off children. You are starving the elderly. It's easy to do that.

DOOCY: And Stuart, isn't it becoming class warfare? The president and his men are talking about, you know, soaking the rich. Those guys are really successful. Let's take the money out of their pocket. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/13/11, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh: Proposal To Tax Wealthiest Americans Is A Way Of Saying "You're Gonna Get Rich Over My Dead Body." On the April 27, 2011, edition of his radio show, Limbaugh said:

LIMBAUGH: Now, speaking of Obama's academic record, he attended Harvard Law School at the height of something it was promoting, education technique or a theory. It was called critical legal studies. Critical legal studies was in its ascendancy at Harvard Law when Obama was there. You can look it up. Just Google critical legal studies. It is out and out Marxism.

In a nutshell, critical legal studies claims that law is just politics by other means. It is a way for the rich to keep the poor working man down and deny him opportunities for prosperity. That is what Obama was taught at Harvard, and based on what he believes and is doing it looks to me like he probably did get good grades. Look it up if you want. Critical legal studies. Law is just politics by other means. You can even turn it around -- politics is just law by other means. But, I mean, look at what they do. What has happened? You can't get your accomplishments done in the legislative body, you put judges that are gonna write law on your court system. When Obama proposes taxes on millionaires and billionaires and says the starting point's $200,000 a year, what he is doing is establishing a tax policy on millions and millions of small businesses, the express purpose of which is to prevent them from acquiring wealth. Their wealth is what is being taxed.

Millionaires, genuine millionaires and billionaires, they don't have income. They don't have wage income. They pay capital gains rates, 15% or what have you. They're not, you know, the 36 percent rate, the 39 percent rate. They may have a salary of a hundred grand that their sub-S pays them or what have you, but their wealth is not being taxed. There is no wealth tax in America yet, but there's an income tax and when you want to start taxing people at 200, 250 grand at 40 percent, small-business people. And what you're saying is, "You're gonna get rich over my dead body. You're gonna acquire wealth over my dead body." It's a way for the truly rich to keep everybody else serfs. That's what Obama was taught, critical legal studies at Harvard. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 4/27/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Complained That A Proposal To Eliminate Tax Breaks On Corporate Jets Was "Straightforward Class Warfare." After Obama cited tax breaks for corporate jets as an example of tax loopholes that could be closed to raise revenue, Fox News personalities criticized the proposal as unfair and accused Obama of engaging in "straightforward class warfare." [Media Matters, 6/30/11]

Doocy: Democrats Want To Raise Taxes On "Those Evil, Successful People," "The So-Called Rich." On the July 27, 2010, edition of Fox & Friends, Doocy claimed that Democrats say "those evil, successful people at the top 3 or 4 or 5 percent -- the so-called rich Americans -- we're going to continue to tax them at a higher rate." Doocy continued by suggesting that when you're talking about these "so-called rich Americans," "you're not talking about Donald Trump or a member of the Rockefeller family. You're talking about a lot of people who own and operate America's small businesses." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/27/10, via Media Matters]

Sarah Palin: Democrats Are "Prejudiced Against ... The Wealth-Owners" And Are "Punishing" Them. From the November 15, 2010, edition of Fox Business' Freedom Watch:

SARAH PALIN (Fox News contributor): We need to start asking, Where did our country start going wrong in terms of penalizing the productive.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO (host): Right.

PALIN: In terms of being prejudiced against those who are the job creators, the wealth-owners, because they are the ones who are most productive and they are to be rewarded for their work ethic. And instead, what government, what Obama, Pelosi, Reid are doing, they're prejudiced against these job creators. They're punishing them, and that's eroding the work ethic that we hopefully will be raising our children with. [Fox News, Freedom Watch, 11/15/10, via Media Matters]

Kilmeade: Taxing The Wealthy "Robs You Of Your Ambition." On the September 10, 2010, edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade said of ending the tax cuts: "On some level, it robs you of your ambition and your push and your drive." He then asked: "Why am I just gonna pay somebody else for my success?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/10/10, via Media Matters]

Krauthammer: Expiration Of Tax Cuts For The Wealthy Is A "Desperate Attempt" At "Creating An Issue Of Class War." On the September 14, 2010, edition of Special Report, panelist Charles Krauthammer claimed that extending the Bush tax cuts for wealthy earners is "a desperate attempt by Democrats in a terrible economy where they have no arguments about how they have improved it of creating an issue of class war." Krauthammer added: "Some people will respond on the class war issue, but others are gonna say it's insane to go around raising taxes in a recession." [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/14/10, via Media Matters]

For more examples of right-wing media attacking any proposal for the rich to pay their fair share of taxes as class warfare, see here and here.

... Often Relying On Misinformation To Do So

Tax Rates On The Rich Are At Historic Lows, Yet Conservative Media Push The Claim That The Richest Americans Are Taxed Too Much. Bloomberg Businessweek reported that "[e]xcept for a period from 1988 to 1992, the top tax rate has never been this low since 1931." And the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has found that the effective federal income tax rate for the very richest Americas has fallen sharply in recent decades.

cbpp

[CBPP, 2/23/10; Bloomberg Businessweek, 12/15/10]

  • Fox's Doocy Claimed "The Progressive Income Tax Has Not Been So Fair" To The Wealthy. On the August 3, 2011, edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts repeatedly called for taxes to be raised on low-income Americans. Gretchen Carlson said: "Most people would say, hey, things should be fair. But what does that mean when you factor in that 50 percent of the nation doesn't even pay federal income tax? Is that fair?" Doocy later said: "You know, historically, the tax system in this country, the progressive income tax, has not been so fair." [Media Matters, 8/3/11]
  • Carlson Asked If Obama's "Class Warfare Rhetoric" Will "Work" If "The Rich ... Are Already Paying Their Fair Share." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/12/11, via Media Matters]
  • Varney: Rate At Which Wealthy Are Taxed Is "Not Moral." On the September 10, 2010, edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney asserted that it's "flat-out wrong" that "we can't afford to extend these tax cuts to the rich and if you do, if you let them keep more of their money, they won't spend it. They won't stimulate the economy." He later asked: "Is it moral to take more than half of anybody's income? 'Cause that's what we're doing right now. ... I maintain that is not moral and it's un-American." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/10/10, via Media Matters]

Fox Has Repeatedly Claimed That $200,000 Per Year Income Is Not Rich. Fox has repeatedly defended against tax increases on the rich by claiming that people with incomes of $200,000 or $250,000 are not actually rich. However, According to the 2010 Current Population Survey by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.6 out of 119 million households -- less than 4 percent of all U.S. households -- earn more than $200,000 annually. Even in New York City, the median household income was $48,631 in 2007. [Census.gov, accessed 2/6/12, Media Matters, 7/28/10]

  • Carlson: Obama's Plan Would Affect Not "Just Billionaires," But Even People Who Make $200,000. On the April 21, 2011, edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson suggested that people making $200,000 a year in income are not rich, saying of Obama's plan to let tax cuts for the wealthy expire: "It's not just billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg who may pay more taxes. ... It's the people making $200,000 and above. There's a huge disparity between that and the billionaires." Carlson's comment followed many similar remarks Fox News anchors made in 2010, when they repeatedly claimed someone making $200,000 or $250,000 per year is "not rich." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/21/11, via Media Matters]
  • Kilmeade: "If You're Making $250,000 You Are Not 'Very Rich.' " [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/13/10, via Media Matters]
  • Fox Business' Chris Cotter: Living On $250,000 Is "Very, Very Tough" In New York Or San Francisco. "You're Not Rich." [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 2/2/10, via Media Matters]
  • Doocy Claims That New York City Households Earning Five Times The Median Income Are "Not Rich." On the July 23, 2010, edition of Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy disputed the claim that those who make over $250,000 are rich. Doocy suggested that "what they consider rich," in Washington, D.C., is "not necessarily part of the real world," and that a couple in New York could make that much but "are not rich." [Media Matters, 7/28/10]

Economists Disagree, Right-Wing Push The Claim That Taxes For The Rich Should Be Low In Order To Stimulate Hiring. Economists say that lowering taxes for the rich does not create jobs and that the Bush tax cuts for the rich did not spur economic growth. Nevertheless, right-wing media continue to call for lower taxes for the rich and rail against any tax increases for the rich on the grounds of economic growth. [Media Matters, 4/14/11, 6/27/11]

  • Doocy: Democrats "Need A New Bag Of Tricks" Because They're Trying To "Hit The People Who Are The Job Creators" With A Tax Increase. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/2/11, via Media Matters]
  • Kilmeade: Raising Taxes For Wealthy Will Give Money To Government Instead Of "Hiring More People." On the April 14, 2011, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade reacted to Obama's plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans by claiming it would give more money "to the government as opposed to investing it in different areas, starting a different company, hiring more people." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/14/11, via Media Matters]
  • Fox's Tantaros: "You Can't Argue That You're Going To Hurt Joe Six-Pack's Boss" Without Hurting "Joe Six-Pack." Later on Fox & Friends, after Fox News contributor Juan Williams pointed out that under Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget plan "all the sacrifice goes to the seniors and the poor," Fox contributor Andrea Tantaros claimed, "[Y]ou can't argue that you're going to hurt Joe Six-Pack's boss without implying it's going to hit Joe Six-Pack." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/14/11, via Media Matters]
  • Fox's Gasparino: Extension Of Bush Tax Cuts For The Rich Means Businesses Will Start Hiring. In a New York Post column, Fox Business correspondent Charles Gasparino wrote: "In fact, businesses have cited the likelihood for higher taxes as why they've been hoarding cash instead of hiring, and investors have cited higher capital-gains taxes for keeping money out of the markets. But with the Bush tax rates almost certainly extended for two years, businesses and investors can put money back to work." [New York Post, 12/14/10]
  • Fox's Hume Railed Against Tax Increases On The Rich: "When's The Last Time One Of These Poor People Offered You A Job?" On the July 25, 2010, edition of Fox News Sunday, in response to Juan Williams' assertion that "Obama has already cut taxes" and that the taxes Democrats are calling to be allowed to expire are only for "the very rich in the country," Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume asked: "When's the last time one of these poor people offered you a job?" He added that the people affected by letting the tax cuts expire "are the job creators, the people who have money to invest, capital to put at risk, to build enterprises and, they hope, make more money are people that have some money to begin with." [Media Matters, 7/28/10]


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