Fox has attacked the economic recovery under President Obama by claiming that if Obama just adopted the policies of former President Ronald Reagan, there would be a stronger recovery. But as economists have pointed out, the Reagan recession ended not because of Reagan's fiscal policies but because the Federal Reserve drastically cut interest rates. Because interest rates are already at zero, such a rate cut is not a possible option now.
Right-wing media have attacked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for using federal workers' pension funds to ensure that the government meets its obligations for the short-term while lawmakers and the White House try to reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling. In fact, Geithner's actions are in line with those of the Treasury Department under former Presidents Bush and Clinton, the government is legally required to reimburse the program once the debt limit is increased, and economic disaster could have occurred had Geithner not taken these measures.
The national debate on the future of Social Security is surrounded by falsehoods and misconceptions regarding the program's finances and its relationship to the federal budget -- misconceptions that are repeatedly reinforced by major media outlets. In fact, as it's currently constructed, Social Security cannot add to the deficit in the long run, does not present a major threat to America's fiscal future, and is backed by some of the safest financial assets in the world.
CNNMoney gets in on the "Paul Ryan puff piece" trend:
Ryan, a longtime member of the House Budget Committee, which he now heads, is steeped in the math of deficits and debt and has crafted his own fiscal overhaul plan.
That plan -- the "Roadmap for America's Future" -- proposes sweeping changes to Social Security, Medicare and the tax code that would be a significant departure from the status quo, and mainline Republican thinking.
Yes, yes. Paul Ryan has sterling fiscal credentials -- never mind his career-long support for deficit-inducing wars and tax cuts and the like. CNNMoney sure didn't mention it. But what's worse is that CNNMoney refers to Ryan's "fiscal overhaul plan" without telling us how that plan would affect the nation's fiscal situation. The whole article is about how Ryan is going to attack the Obama administration's "handling of the economy and budget," and it mentions Ryan's budget plan without ever telling us what that plan would do. So what would it do? It would take 50 years to balance the budget. And that's the optimistic assessment, based on the dubious assumption that Ryan's deep tax cuts don't reduce revenue.
Yes, Paul Ryan has "his own fiscal overhaul plan." So what? Buying a whole bunch of Powerball tickets is a "plan," after all. The question is what the plan will do, and what the likely results are. News organizations should be sure to answer those questions, not just fall all over themselves in a rush to assert Ryan's fiscal bona fides.
Finally, the CNNMoney article is part of a special package on "America's Debt Crisis." I can find no such package devoted to "America's jobs crisis." CNNMoney might want to re-think those priorities. Not just because jobs are the more urgent concern to most Americans, but because focusing on debt rather than jobs and economic growth may be counterproductive even if your primary concern is the debt.
CNNMoney.com hypes a laundry list of grievances "business leaders" have with President Obama:
The latest White House summit comes a year after Obama chastised "fat cat" bankers who took large bonuses during the financial crisis, and six months after he lashed out at BP during the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Those remarks left a sour taste in the mouth of the business leaders, and rhetoric became elevated.
While business leaders have spoken out against Obama, they have also been highly critical of the legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress.
Businesses have pushed back against Obama's signature legislative achievements, including health care reform and a sweeping overhaul of the nation's financial system.
Just last week, the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs, released a report that said the success and profitability of U.S. companies "has been threatened by inflexible and cumbersome regulations in the financial services, environmental and health care sectors."
Now, here's what CNNMoney.com left out, courtesy of the New York Times:
The nation's workers may be struggling, but American companies just had their best quarter ever.
American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.
Corporate profits have been doing extremely well for a while. Since their cyclical low in the fourth quarter of 2008, profits have grown for seven consecutive quarters, at some of the fastest rates in history. As a share of gross domestic product, corporate profits also have been increasing, and they now represent 11.2 percent of total output. That is the highest share since the fourth quarter of 2006, when they accounted for 11.7 percent of output.
Seems like maybe some facts about corporate profits would be relevant in an article about "business leaders" complaining that onerous government regulations are hurting businesses, doesn't it?
Under the header "Economists: Extend Bush tax cuts for everyone," CNNMoney.com is hyping the "first in a series of economic surveys" with a write-up that does not bode well for the reliability of those surveys.
CNNMoney doesn't waste any time misleading its readers:
With income tax rates set to go up on Dec. 31, Congress is hotly debating what to do next. But most economists agree: Keep them where they are.
Well, no. CNNMoney's survey doesn't establish that "most economists" think anything. The survey involved 31 economists, and even CNNMoney doesn't claim that's a representative sample.
a majority of a panel of leading economists surveyed by CNNMoney.com said that the tax cuts should be renewed for everyone.
Leading economists? Perhaps, but the list is heavy on representatives of business interests (Bank of America, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Homebuilders, etc) and light on economists with academic affiliations (only 3 of the 31 economists are listed with academic affiliations.) I don't know if university economists are more likely to be right than economists employed by big banks, but they do seem less likely to be affected by the interests of their employers.
Now, this next part pretty thoroughly undermines the whole exercise:
The first in a series of economic surveys revealed that extending the tax cuts for all taxpayers is the most important thing Congress can do to help the economy. Of the 31 economists surveyed, 18 chose that from a list of options now being debated on Capitol Hill.
The survey didn't "reveal" any such thing. It found that, given a list of options, most of the 31 economists surveyed chose extending the tax cuts for all taxpayers. And what were those options? CNNMoney doesn't tell us. Oh, sure, there's a link labeled "See the full survey results." But the page it takes you to is simply a chart of each of the economists' projections of various economic indicators -- it doesn't say anything about proposed solutions. The remainder of the main article hints at some of the other options provided, but nowhere does it spell them all out. But even if it did, "the most important thing Congress can do" is not the same thing as "the most important thing among a narrow list of things now being debated on Capitol Hill."
Despite CNNMoney's broad and emphatic claims, the actual survey results it presents tell us approximately nothing.
An April 26 CNNMoney.com headline blares:
And the lead of the article reads, "The recovery is picking up steam as employers boost payrolls, but economists think the government's stimulus package and jobs bill had little to do with the rebound, according to a survey released Monday."
Only problem is: the survey didn't say that.
An Investor's Business Daily editorial, reprinted on CNNMoney.com, claimed that George Soros "has financed spin outfits such as Media Matters that specialize in providing distorted conservative political statements as grist for leftist politicians and media." The editorial also claimed that Media Matters "succeeded last year in denying incumbent [Sen. Joseph] Lieberman the Democratic nomination for Senate in Connecticut." In fact, Soros has never given money to Media Matters, and Media Matters does not participate or intervene in political campaigns.