Stuart Varney, Fox News' "very clearly partisan" economic analyst, said on Fox this morning that the stock market is doing well this month because investors are anticipating big Republican wins in November. Part of his explanation was that "a Republican sweep implies that most of us, if not all of us, will keep the tax rate we've got now. So that would end that uncertainty":
VARNEY: There is still uncertainty over taxes, what tax rate are any of us going to be paying on January the 1st? We flat out don't know. But a Republican sweep implies that most of us, if not all of us, will keep the tax rate we've got now. So that would end that uncertainty.
But you're right. The stock market anticipates what is likely to happen in the future, and the market is saying this is going to be a rally for the economy and the stock market because of a Republican sweep.
Except Democrats haven't proposed increasing tax rates for "most of us," as Varney suggests. Quite the opposite -- President Obama and Democrats in Congress have long said they plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for all income tax rates except the top two - those that benefit only households making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $200,000. According to the Tax Policy Center, "just 1.7 percent of all households would pay higher taxes under the president's proposal than if Congress extended all the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts."
Varney claims the stock market is doing well in part because if Republicans win big in November, "most of us" will "keep the tax rate we've got now." But the Democrats have already proposed doing just that. Let's hope the "market" doesn't get its news from Varney.
Fox News devoted at least 2 hours 33 minutes on September 22 and 23 to promoting, discussing, and reporting on House Republicans' "Pledge to America," their legislative agenda for the next Congress.
Coverage of CNBC's economic town hall meeting with President Obama has been dominated by analysis over poignant comments made by middle-class Maryland resident Velma Hart. Hart, who voted for Obama in 2008, told the president she was "exhausted" of defending him, expressed her fears about her family's economic future and famously asked him, "Quite frankly, Mr. President, I need you to answer this honestly: Is this my new reality?"
Unsurprisingly, Hart's comments, which were evocative of the nationwide uncertainty in the wake of the economic downturn, have been distilled by Fox News into a simplistic attack on the president: "Is Velma Hart the next Joe the Plumber?"
On this morning's Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy went from describing Hart as speaking "from the heart and sa[ying] I don't want to have to make those choices at the grocery store. I got kids going to college," before marginalizing her by asking, "Is she the new Joe the Plumber?" On September 22, America Live's Megyn Kelly repeatedly teased a segment on Hart by asking, verbatim, the exact same question:
Fox business analyst Stuart Varney appeared on America's Newsroom today to comment on the House Republicans' newly released "Pledge to America" and claimed that the plan shows Republicans want "less debt":
VARNEY: What they're really doing here is laying out a statement of intent. And what they're also doing is making a very sharp contrast with what the Obama plan already is. It's a duel of two economic plans. The Republicans want small government, less debt, lower taxes. And President Obama is running on his record of the economic team and the economic policies he's got in place.
In fact, the Republicans pledge to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts, which would reportedly cost $4.9 trillion over the next ten years, including interest payments, but they don't offer any specific proposals that would even come close to making up that loss. They would need to repeal the entire Recovery Act six times over to pay for the tax cuts.
As the Washington Post's Ezra Klein noted, "The document never says that the policy proposals it offers will ultimately reduce the deficit." When asked by George Stephanolopolous how the Pledge to America pays for the tax cuts, Rep. Paul Ryan said, "We'd put 1.3 trillion in cuts right there as well. But the President is also proposing $3 trillion of those $3.7 trillion in tax cuts be extended. So, it's not as if the President and the Democrats aren't saying extend some of them." Got that? Ryan's response to the charge that the Pledge is fiscally irresponsible with tax cuts is that the Democrats are slightly more fiscally responsible with the cuts.
So how can Varney look at the same document calling for almost $5 trillion in tax cuts that aren't paid for and conclude that the Republicans want "less debt"? Oh yeah.
UPDATE: Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center blog Tax Vox takes a look at the Republicans' Pledge and finds:
When it comes to revenues, the GOP reprises its long-term pledge to permanently extend all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Plus it adds a few more tax breaks, including a proposal to give small businesses a new 20 percent deduction. For those interested in deficit reduction, these tax cuts would dwarf any spending cuts in the GOP agenda. [emphasis added]
Eric Bolling appeared on Fox News today to comment on the growth of government and claimed that "for the exact same job -- I'm not talking apples and oranges" -- federal employees make twice as much in salary and benefits as private employees. In fact, the comparison he's pushing is indeed of the apples to oranges variety.
Bolling said on America's Newsroom:
BOLLING: USA Today a couple weeks ago - we've cited this study time and time again -- USA Today came out and said, you know, if you work for the federal government, you make on average $123,000 a year - that's salary and benefits and everything they lump in. If you work for the private sector for the exact same job - I'm not talking apples and oranges - we're talking landscaper vs. landscaper. Clergyman vs. clergyman. Cook vs. cook. You make less than 60 grand all year.
Actually, the USA Today report he cites used averages for all federal civil servants and all private workers and did not compare similar positions.
Right-wing media have seized on a recent Los Angeles audit of some stimulus funds the city has received to falsely claim that each stimulus-funded job in LA cost the taxpayer an average of $2 million per job. In fact, the controller's office noted that not all of the funds have been spent yet, additional jobs are expected, and moreover, such cost-per-job estimates are "highly misleading," as they do not capture the full impact of the stimulus.
From the September 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox News' Bill Hemmer uncritically repeated House Republican leader John Boehner's statement that he would repeal or block funding for health care reform before it "'bankrupts' the country." Hemmer ignored multiple Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports stating that health care reform will actually reduce the federal deficit.
From the September 7 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Last year, the Daily Show mocked Fox News' "vaunted news-opinion equator" and noted that the news shows make stories out of attacks launched "by the guy whose show was on right before you." Today, Fox News' Stuart Varney provided a perfect example.
On Fox and Friends, one of Fox News' opinion shows, Varney attacked the $50 billion infrastructure plan announced by President Obama over the weekend as a "stimulus plan for the unions" and claimed "the president essentially is scrambling" because of bad poll numbers:
DOOCY: We were just telling you about this: the president has a big idea to spend 50 billion dollars. Another 50 billion to revamp America's infrastructure. He says it's going to create jobs but Stuart Varney says it is a payoff to the unions.
VARNEY: It's a stimulus plan. They don't want to call it a stimulus plan but it is a stimulus plan for the unions. Ok? The president essentially is scrambling. All the polls say that he's very unpopular where the economy is concerned. I think we have a new Fox News poll out.
VARNEY: 47% say that the economy has gotten worse under President Obama. It was only 36% who said that in January. So you got a big swing against the president on economic policy. So this pressure -- do something. So he gets out there in Milwaukee. He's in full campaign mode. He's taking money from the wicked energy companies, giving it in a stimulus plan to the unions. It is all about the unions.
A few hours later, on America's Newsroom -- a show Fox categorizes as straight and objective news -- Varney reported on "criticism" that the infrastructure plan is "essentially a pay-off to the unions" and said that "some say" Obama is "scrambling because his polls on the economy are looking very, very bad":
VARNEY: Okay, first off, the fifty billion dollar infrastructure program would rebuild or build fresh 150,000 miles of road, 4,000 miles of railroad track, 150 miles of airport runways. Essentially, that would be paid for with taxes on the oil and gas industries. It's a six-year program. No new jobs created immediately. Much of the criticism is that it's essentially a pay-off to the unions.
There is a second plan, to be unveiled tomorrow. The Wall Street Journal is saying that this is a two-hundred billion dollar plan, two hundred billion dollars worth of tax breaks for businesses. It would speed up the write-off. For example, Bill, you spend ten thousand dollars on a computer right now, and immediately that ten thousand dollars comes off your business income, taxable business income. Overall, no new jobs created immediately. Some say that this is the president scrambling because his polls on the economy are looking very, very bad. And, both of those plans would require a vote in Congress which is not likely.
See, the difference between Fox's opinion and news programs is the phrase, "some say." The "criticism" on which Varney reported was his own, from another Fox News segment, three hours prior. On Fox, this cycle is familiar.
From the September 2 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Conservatives have criticized Judge Susan Bolton for ruling that a provision of Arizona's immigration statute requiring law enforcement personnel to determine the immigration status of all arrestees is likely unconstitutional. They have argued that Bolton should have ignored the plain language of the statute in favor of a contorted reading of the provision requiring Arizona law enforcement to check the immigration status of "any person who is arrested."
This suggests that conservatives are willing to toss aside their professed concern over judicial activism in order to win a case about an issue that matters deeply to them.
In a post on National Review's The Corner blog, conservative activist Heather Mac Donald claimed that Bolton participated in "the Obama administration's carefully cultivated fiction" that the concerns over the Arizona immigration law dealt with the treatment of lawfully present immigrants. According to Mac Donald, what the Obama administration really wanted was to maintain a "de facto amnesty" for undocumented immigrants. Mac Donald claimed that in order to support the Obama administration's supposed cover story about the effects on lawful immigrants, Bolton misinterpreted a provision of the law that "required that 'any person who is arrested shall have the person's immigration status determined before the person is released.' " According to Mac Donald, "any person who is arrested" did not mean "any person" but rather only people for whom reasonable suspicion exists that they are here illegally.
On Fox News, host Arthel Neville allowed Kris Kobach, who helped draft the Arizona law and is running for Kansas Secretary of State, to make similar claims without challenge. Kobach stated:
KOBACH: The judge actually made a rather startling mistake. She misinterpreted the intent of a critical provision of the bill. And the reason that's a mistake is there's a longstanding Supreme Court rule that says when you have a law that's not been implemented yet, the court must give the best possible reading to the bill. In other words, give the bill a reading that would not be in violation of any other law. And instead, what the judge did is give the worst possible reading. I think that's going to make her opinion very difficult to sustain on appeal.
NEVILLE: Let me see if I understood what you said. You said that the judge misinterpreted -- she misread the -- your SB 1070?
KOBACH: Yeah. There was the word arrest is used in Section 2, and what she did is there are multiple interpretations of that word arrest. And she picked the interpretation that would be most problematic, but on a facial challenge, a judge is bound to give the bill the best possible reading to give the state the opportunity to implement it in a constitutional manner. She failed to do this, and I think her opinion is very weak because of that and will probably be flipped on appeal.
In fact, as Bolton made clear in her opinion, the statute unambiguously requires law enforcement officials to verify the immigration status of every person who is arrested and that arguments to the contrary simply do not have any support in the statute's text.
Today on Fox News, an Arizona sheriff's deputy, who will be enforcing Arizona's new immigration law starting tomorrow, revealed that he does not know what the law actually says.
When asked by America's Newsroom host Bill Hemmer about how the law will be enforced, deputy Steve Henry stated that "the crime is trespassing. And we book on state crimes. So if the crime is trespassing in the state of Arizona, then we're going to book you on that state charge. And eventually you'll go through the system and ICE will get involved and it will go through the deportation process after whatever the court decides to do for that person for that state crime."
But the crime isn't "trespassing." As the Arizona Capitol Times reported back in March, the Arizona legislature removed the trespass provisions from the bill:
In its original form, the bill would have allowed trespassing charges to be brought against anyone on any public or private land in Arizona who is in violation of their federal immigration status. The amendment, though, changes the language so that illegal immigrants could be charged with "willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document," rather than trespassing. It also removes the part about being on any public or private property.
Hemmer did not correct Henry, who is the chief deputy at the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.
Throughout the debate over the Arizona law, Fox News has attached itself to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, which supports the new law, and privileged its views over other Arizona law enforcement representatives who oppose it. In fact, last week Fox correspondent William La Jeunesse worked with PCSO to produce a role playing bit purporting to show how the law will be enforced without racial profiling. And this week, La Jeunesse tagged along with Pinal deputies on patrol and reported that Pinal Sheriff Paul Babeu "says the Obama Administration needs to help the state of Arizona, not sue it." We noted on July 15 that Fox News had hosted Babeu for 18 separate live interviews since mid-April while ignoring Arizona Sheriffs Tony Estrada and Ralph Ogden, who have raised concerns about the new law.
From the July 20 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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When a news outlet doesn't do their research, it's easy to get duped. And that's just what happened yesterday, when the Center for Immigration Studies got Fox News to repeatedly promote its "mini-documentary," "Hidden Cameras on the Arizona Border 2: Drugs, Guns, and 850 Illegal Aliens."
The video features footage from hidden cameras placed in the Tucson sector of Arizona, along trails frequently used by people who entered the country illegally. According to the video, the cameras captured "about 850 illegal aliens" in "60 days between February and March 2010." CIS says of its production: "At minimum, the inescapable conclusion is that hidden cameras reveal a reality that illegal-alien activity is escalating."
Well if CIS says such a conclusion is, "at minimum," "inescapable," Fox News shouldn't waste their time verifying the claim, right? How I wish it weren't so.