Fox Hiding Half The Story On Automatic Spending Cuts


Fox News is telling a one-sided story focused exclusively on cuts to defense spending that were included in a 2011 budget deal. What Fox is not telling its viewers is that the deal also included cuts to critical services for vulnerable Americans and reductions in important medical research funding, and that non-defense spending cuts would lead to a loss of more than 1 million jobs.

Fox News Hypes Sequestration-Mandated Defense Cuts, Disappears Non-Defense Cuts

Fox's Kilmeade: GOP Senators Are Going Around The Country, Highlighting Defense Spending Cuts. During the July 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade interviewed Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) about the sequestration-required cuts to defense spending. At no point in the interview did Kilmeade, McCain, or Ayotte address non-defense discretionary spending. From the broadcast:

BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Republican Senators are launching a tour around the country, warning voters of defense cuts that will reach up to $500 billion over the course of a decade. So with criticism mounting, how will the White House respond? Will they at all? Joining us right now is ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee on that tour Senator John McCain, and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Kelly Ayotte. Welcome to both of you.

SEN. AYOTTE: Good morning.

SEN. MCCAIN: Thank you.

KILMEADE: Alright Senator McCain, let's just start with you. What are you doing, and what states have you chosen to get the message about sequester and what it means to the Pentagon?

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, we're going to -- we're here in Florida, and we're going to North Carolina and Virginia, and then we'll be -- then up to New Hampshire tomorrow, and then we'll be going to other states. And we're going to places obviously that are most severely hit by these draconian cuts, which in the words of the Secretary of Defense, would have a devastating impact on our national security.

KILMEADE: And Senator Ayotte, do you think that people don't understand this or are we just gonna -- are we just so overwhelmed by the amount of news coming our way that we're just ignoring this?

SEN. AYOTTE: Well, you know, I think there needs to be a wake-up call not only across America, so that we're here to inform America, it means nearly a million jobs in the defense industrial base, but as Senator McCain has said, our Secretary of Defense has said essentially we would be shooting ourselves in the head if we go forward in this. Hollowing out our force, jeopardizing our national security. And I think there needs to be a wake-up call to Congress on both sides of the aisle. So, not only do we want the American people to know what's at stake, but members of Congress have to get into action and where is our president, our commander-in-chief on this important issue? He really has been absent and we're calling on his leadership. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/30/12]

Fox's Folbaum: "Three Senators Sounding The Alarm On Some Potential Deep Cuts In Defense Spending -- Hundreds Of Billions Of Dollars Over The Next Decade." During the July 30 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, co-host Rick Folbaum and Mike Emanuel, Fox's chief congressional correspondent, reported that Republican senators are warning against defense cuts during a multistate tour. Neither Folbaum nor Emanuel reported on the consequences of cuts to non-defense discretionary spending. From the broadcast:

FOLBAUM:  Right now three senators sounding the alarm on some potential deep cuts in defense spending totalling hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. They're afraid that the cuts could make us unprepared for new threats like Iran and the growing military strength of China. Chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel is live in Norfolk, Virginia. Mike, good to see you. So what are some of the key themes these senators are talking about as they go from stop to stop on their tour.

EMANUEL: Rick, they're visiting huge defense communities in four battleground states. The theme is preserving America's strength and talking about the impact to our national defense. And also our economy of these defense cuts. Here's Senator Lindsey Graham sending a message.

SEN. LINDSAY GRAHAM (R-SC) [video clip]: Politicians, you know, quite frankly, respond to pressure. And I'm urging every defense industry that could be affected by sequestration to put your employees on notice before November. The more it becomes real to us as to what comes the nation's way, the more likely we are to solve the problem.

EMANUEL: Next stop is Fayetteville, North Carolina then they will come here to Norfolk, Virginia. Rick.

FOLBAUM: Well let's not forget this sequestration thing is a problem of the senators' own doing from both parties. They got to sit down and hammer out a deal. What are Democrats saying about these defense cuts, and what will they do to fix it?

EMANUEL: Well, Rick, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida sent a letter to Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte pledging his bipartisan support. The number two Democrat in the United States Senate, Dick Durbin, called on President Obama for help.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL) [video clip]: With the president's leadership we can come together. There's a bipartisan answer here that will reduce the deficit and still create an environment for economic growth.

EMANUEL: So bottom line, these Republicans are calling on the commander-in-chief to step in. Again, they will be here later this afternoon, in Norfolk, a community that would be affected not only from the military perspective, but of course small businesses across this community. [Fox News, Happening Now, 7/30/12, via Media Matters] Concern In Washington About The Fiscal Cliff, A "Combination Of Massive Tax Hikes And Massive Defense Spending Cuts."  In a July 30 article, detailed efforts by GOP senators to highlight scheduled cuts to defense discretionary spending, labeling these cuts as well as scheduled tax increases as part of the coming "fiscal cliff." However, did not mention consequences that could stem from non-defense discretionary spending cuts. From the post:

On the jobs front, the economic news continues to dim. Growth slowed to 1.5 percent in the second quarter, and the unemployment rate is stuck at 8.2 percent. But what's more troubling to just about every official in Washington is what the so-called "fiscal cliff" could do to the already-slack economy. That's the term for the combination of massive tax hikes and massive defense spending cuts that are set to take effect starting in 2013 unless Congress acts.


The looming defense cuts are in large part the making of congressional lawmakers. A bipartisan committee was tasked last year with nailing down mutually agreeable deficit-reduction measures, or else face an ax of indiscriminate cuts to the military and other areas. The committee, though, failed to strike a deal, and those indiscriminate cuts were triggered.  

The White House has argued that Congress has dropped the ball on this issue, and further suggested that if lawmakers could only agree to raise taxes on top earners, then a deal could be worked out -- or could have been worked out -- to reduce the planned cuts to the military. [, 7/30/12]

But The Cuts Would Also Have Major Consequences For Health, Education, And Other Domestic Programs

HHS: Sequestration Would Have "Profound Consequences" On Department's Ability To "Provide Critical Services To Vulnerable" Citizens. In a June 29 letter to Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pointed out that sequestration would "have profound consequences on the Department's ability to protect Americans' health and safety and provide critical services to vulnerable populations." From the letter:

The deep discretionary cuts projected by CBO would have profound consequences on the Department's ability to protect Americans' health and safety and provide critical services to vulnerable populations. As you note, the cuts projected by CBO would limit the Department's ability to accelerate scientific knowledge and innovation. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) could potentially eliminate 2,300 new and competing research project grants, with nearly 300 fewer grants issued by the National Cancer Institute.

The cuts projected by CBO would also reduce the Department's ability to support American families. For example, up to 100,000 children would lose Head Start services and approximately 80,000 fewer children would receive child care assistance. In addition, approximately 12,150 fewer patients would receive benefits from our AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Approximately 169,000 fewer individuals would be admitted to substance abuse treatment programs and an estimated 14,200 fewer people who are homeless would receive assistance.

Sequestration would also hinder the Department's ability to realize savings produced through proven investments, such as the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control (HCFAC) program. CMS actuaries conservatively project that for every new dollar spent by HHS to combat health care fraud, about $1.50 is saved or averted. [Department of Health and Human Services, 6/29/12]

Politico: "Nobody Seems To Be Talking About" Non-Defense Discretionary Programs That "Face Across-The-Board Cuts." In a July 18 article, Politico noted, "For all the hysteria in Washington over sequestration, you'd be forgiven for believing it only affects defense." The article pointed out that Head Start and other child care programs are in danger of facing "across-the-board cuts." From the article:

For all the hysteria in Washington over sequestration, you'd be forgiven for believing it only affects defense.


But nobody seems to be talking about the other $500 billion in reductions -- to Head Start, child care and AIDS programs, as well as many other domestic programs that face across-the-board cuts. The limited lobbying and political attention on the domestic end of the sequester reveals the brutal reality of how Washington works when it comes to budgets: Industries with the biggest companies and the most powerful lobbyists still drive the conversation.


The truth is that the $1.2 trillion budget pain caused by the sequester will hit domestic and defense spending equally -- and the cuts were never supposed to happen. The sequester was meant to be a punishing mechanism designed to force last year's supercommittee to reach a deficit-reduction deal. [Politico, 7/18/12]

NY Times: "Tens Of Thousands Of Young Children From Low-Income Families" Could Be Dropped From Head Start If Sequestration-Required Cuts Occur. A July 26 New York Times article reported that sequestration-required cuts to non-defense discretionary spending could force "[t]ens of thousands of young children from low-income families" to be dropped from Head Start programs "if Congress cannot find a way to prevent automatic cuts to the federal budget in 2013." The article further reported:

Supporters of Head Start fear the cuts would put more children at a disadvantage even before they reach kindergarten. Critics, including Congressional Republicans who tried to slash the Head Start budget in 2011, say the cuts would help rein in an overpriced program whose benefits have not been proven.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that the automatic cuts would slice $590 million from federal spending on Head Start, which will be more than $7.9 billion in 2012. The National Education Association said the cuts would eliminate 80,000 of the 962,000 slots for children and more than 30,000 jobs of teachers, aides and administrators in the program. It began in 1965 to provide summer school for children about to start kindergarten and later expanded to include year-round preschool classes. [The New York Times7/26/12]

Sen. Harkin: Sequestration Would Slash "Critical Priorities Like Education And Medical Research." A report prepared by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, noted that sequestration would slash "critical priorities like education and medical research." From the study:

  • States and local communities would lose $2.7 billion in Federal funding for just three critical education programs alone -- Title I, special education State grants, and Head Start -- that serve a combined 30.7 million children. Nationwide, these cuts would force 46,349 employees to either lose their jobs or rely on cash-strapped States and localities to pick up their salaries instead.
  •  In health, 659,476 fewer people would be tested for HIV, 48,845 fewer women would be screened for cancer; and 211,958 fewer children be vaccinated.
  • At a time when the unemployment rate is still above 8 percent, 1.6 million fewer adults, dislocated workers and at-risk youth would receive job training, education and employment services; and the families of 80,000 fewer children would receive child care subsidies, making it harder for parents to find work. [Senate Appropriations Committee Majority Staff, Under Threat: Sequestration's Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services, 7/25/12]

George Mason University Study: "Non-DOD Agency Budget Reductions ... Would Generate Job Losses Of" More Than 1 Million. A July 17 study by George Mason University, titled "The Economic Impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 on DOD & Non-DOD Agencies," found that non-defense cuts resulting from the sequestration would reduce employment by more than 1 million jobs. From the study:

Non-DOD agency budget cuts would generate direct employment reductions of 420,529 jobs with an estimated 229,116 jobs or 54.5 percent of these direct job losses consisting of federal workers. Professional and Business Services would lose 125,012 direct jobs (29.7 percent of the total direct jobs losses), reflecting the impacts on federal contractors providing scientific, engineering and technical services. Additionally, suppliers and vendors of primary federal contractors would lose 150,552 jobs. This loss of direct and indirect jobs would contribute to the loss of an additional 476,268 jobs dependent on the payroll spending (induced jobs) foregone due to these spending reductions experienced by non-DOD agencies.

In total, non-DOD agency budget reductions for the FY 2012- FY 2013 period would generate job losses of 1,047,349 with almost half of these (510,229) consisting of federal jobs and 31 percent coming from the professional and business services sector. These two sectors would account for 80 percent of the direct, indirect and induced job losses attributable to non-DOD agency budget reductions. [George Mason University, 7/17/12]

George Mason University Study: "Non-DOD Spending Reductions Would Reduce U.S. GDP By $120.5 Billion." The George Mason University study further found that non-DOD spending reductions would reduce the nation's Gross Domestic Product by $120.5 billion. From the study:

Budget cuts impacting non-DOD agencies (FY 2012-FY 2013) are estimated at $59.0 billion including $33.8 billion in reduced federal payroll (see Table 6). These non-DOD spending reductions would reduce U.S. GDP by $120.5 billion. Non-DOD cutbacks would have a much greater direct impact on federal employment than DOD budget reductions due to the respective differences in procurement and payroll distributions. [George Mason University, 7/17/12]

Posted In
Economy, Budget, Poverty, Education, Education Funding
Fox News Channel
Brian Kilmeade, Mike Emanuel, Rick Folbaum
FOX & Friends, Happening Now
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