Conservative media figures have long insisted that top marginal income tax rates effectively target small businesses. This "zombie lie" has sprung up throughout President Obama's first term as an argument against Democratic proposals to renew the Bush-era rates only for middle- and low-income Americans. Despite continual efforts by experts to debunk this claim, media figures continue to repeat these lies in the 2012 edition of the fight over high-income tax rates.
Fox News hosted Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist to advance a number of misleading and false claims aimed at undermining President Obama's tax plan. In reality, Obama's proposal includes significant spending cuts, raising taxes on the wealthiest households will not hurt the economy, and Americans support raising taxes on high-income earners.
National Rifle Association board member Grover Norquist undermined the NRA's conspiracy theory that President Obama would use his second term to destroy the Second Amendment during a radio appearance on Monday. The NRA has used that claim as the centerpiece of their election efforts.
Citing the ability of Congress and the Supreme Court to check the power of the Executive Branch, Norquist stated, "So if Obama was king would he go after your guns? Probably. He ain't king." Norquist's comments came during the inaugural edition of Media Matters' new radio program, The Agenda:
ARI RABIN-HAVT, HOST: Now according to the [NRA's] CEO Wayne LaPierre, this is has all been part of -- and this is a quote -- "a massive Obama conspiracy" to quote "lull gun owners to sleep" so he can eliminate the Second Amendment in his second term. You know, you're a very reasonable guy. Frankly that statement seems unreasonable, that it's all part of a secret plot. Do you agree with Wayne LaPierre on that? That Barack Obama is trying to lull America to sleep so he can ban guns in his second term? Something I don't think is even legislatively possible at this point?
GROVER NORQUIST: I think in his heart of hearts Obama is not a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and would limit gun rights to the extent that he can. Now the good news for people who care about the Second Amendment is that the House and the Senate have strong support for the Second Amendment. So one of the reasons Obama has been reasonable is that he doesn't have the votes to do something other than be reasonable. And the Supreme Court has also come down on the side of an individual right to be armed. So if Obama was king would he go after your guns? Probably. He ain't king.
Norquist's statement that Obama "ain't king" stands in sharp contrast to the musings of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who has been warning NRA adherents about an Obama plot to end private gun ownership. The theory was first aired out at a political rally in September 2011, when LaPierre suggested that the president's inaction on the gun issue evidenced a "massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in our country." He went on to claim:
We see the president's strategy crystal clear: get re-elected, and with no other re-elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms freedom. Erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and exorcise it from the U.S. Constitution. That's their agenda.
The theory has been widely ridiculed since its conception. Jon Stewart characterized it as "so crazy, it's f--king crazy." MSNBC host Rachel Maddow summed up the outlandish nature of the theory nicely in October 2011, stating, "The NRA says the way you can tell Obama is coming for your guns, is that he's not coming for you guns. It's genius! That is the insane paranoid message from the NRA this year." Hardball's Chris Matthews reacted to LaPierre's speech by calling him "another strain of the crazy far right."
Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.
From the December 1 edition of Fox Business' Power and Money:
Loading the player ...
Seeking to prove that "government spending does not create jobs," anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist said that fiscal stimulus amounted to moving buckets of water around a lake, an overly simplified analogy that is nothing more than a rhetorical mirage.
Norquist appeared on Meet the Press to justify GOP intransigence against raising taxes on the wealthy in order to increase federal revenue and help reduce deficits. He trotted out the tired canard that the 2009 recovery act failed to bolster the economy and argued:
The idea that if you take a dollar out of the economy and then -- from somebody who earned it, either through debt, or through taxes -- and give it to somebody who's politically connected, that there are more dollars around, that if you stand on one side of the lake and put a bucket into the lake, and walk around to the other side in front of the TV cameras, pour the bucket back into the lake and announce you're stimulating the lake to great depths. We just wasted $800 billion on stimulus spending that added to debt, that killed jobs.
Norquist's analogy is all wet. If we were to conceptualize the economy as a large lake, we would in turn conceive of the four components of the economy - private consumption, investment, government spending, and net exports - as tributaries feeding that lake.
Consider Lake Erie by way of example. Assume that unregulated mortgage bankers partnered with Wall Street and the ratings agencies to bundle worthless assets and use them to dam up the Detroit River. This presents a problem, as the Detroit River is a major Lake Erie tributary. The stimulus metaphorically added water to the Cuyahoga River in order to help mitigate the damage to Lake Erie's water supply. To extend the analogy, geologists estimate that the stimulus act increased the amount of water in Lake Erie last quarter, while the flow pattern from the Detroit River continues its struggle to return.
Norquist's misleading metaphor serves to perpetuate the zombie lie that government spending always crowds out private investment. Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman eviscerated that claim back in 2009:
Under the kind of conditions we're now facing, the main determinant of business investment is the state of the economy, as evidenced by the plunge in investment shown in the figure. This, in turn, means that anything that improves the state of the economy, including fiscal stimulus, leads to more investment, and hence raises the economy's future potential.
That is, under current conditions deficit spending doesn't lead to crowding out -- it leads to crowding in. In fact, you could argue that the worst thing we can do for future generations is NOT to run sufficiently large deficits right now.
The right wing media have claimed that President Obama is deliberately sabotaging the super committee's negotiations to reach a deal to decrease the deficit in an attempt to strengthen his re-election prospects. But Obama has repeatedly urged the super committee to come to a compromise, while the Republicans on the super committee have refused to compromise, instead proposing massive tax giveaways for the richest Americans and even more massive cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs Americans rely on.
From the July 31 edition of ABC's This Week:
Loading the player ...
In a July 31 op-ed for The New York Times, Frank Bruni described a recent conversation he had with Grover Norquist, head of the American Taxpayers Union. Bruni reported that Norquist stated: "Democrats are like a teenage boy on a prom date. ... They keep asking. Maybe she'll say yes. 'No! No! No!' But they have to keep asking. It's part of their DNA -- teenage boys and Democrats."
From the Times:
[Norquist] has emerged as the most visible mouthpiece and muse of the lower-taxes, less-government troops that have played a major role in the debt crisis. And he provides a handy window into them.
His assessment of Obama was succinct: "The president of the United States is a left-wing ideologue."
His analysis of the Democratic Party's values and tactics was unambiguous -- and uncomplicated by the deficits racked up under Obama's predecessor.
"Their game plan has always been spend, spend, spend, then come and ask Republicans to be responsible and raise taxes," he said.
"Democrats are like a teenage boy on a prom date," he added, proceeding to act out multiple parts in an imagined conversation, which is one of his favorite things to do. "They keep asking. Maybe she'll say yes. 'No! No! No!' But they have to keep asking. It's part of their DNA -- teenage boys and Democrats."
From C-SPAN's February 11 coverage of CPAC 2011:
Loading the player ...
From CSPAN 2's February 11 coverage of CPAC:
Loading the player ...
From the February 10 coverage of CPAC 2011:
Loading the player ...
The Daily Caller's Amanda Carey details the "Rise of conservative displeasure over Politico/NBC debate," quoting several conservative activists who worry (or pretend to worry) that Republican presidential candidates won't be treated fairly in a debate hosted by Politico and NBC.
Carey quotes conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt: "Can we be honest? They are all liberals. All of them. Not one of the questioners that could or would be proposed by Politico or NBC would be remotely in touch with the cares, concerns, and passions of the GOP's primary electorate." And Grover Norquist: "All the debates should be open to the media, but they should be held for the purpose of letting Republicans explain to Republicans why they should vote for them in the primary. … Instead, we'll get nitpicking from left-of-center journalists asking questions that will impress their fellow journalists." And Mark Levin: "There's no question that Politico and NBC are leftist and I'm not excited about their participation."
As usual, Media Research Center Brent Bozell out-shrilled them all: "When, oh when will Republicans learn? Every four years the presidential debate season takes place. Republicans dutifully line up for debates moderated by liberal 'moderators' except there's nothing moderate about these moderators who mercilessly attack them."
If this really takes place "every four years," there should be plenty of examples. And yet neither Carey nor anyone she quoted offered a single example of inappropriate questioning during debates moderated by Politico or NBC journalists. Certainly no "merciless attacks."
In fact, Carey never got around to mentioning that both Politico and NBC participated in GOP presidential debates during the 2008 campaign. This being the Daily Caller, it is of course possible that neither Carey nor her editors are aware of this basic fact, and that neither thought to check. And this being the Daily Caller, it's also possible Carey never mentioned those debates because they completely undermine the inane premise that Politico and NBC would attack Republican candidates during a debate.
Consider the May 3, 2007 Republican presidential debate moderated by Chris Matthews and Politico's John Harris and Jim VandeHei. Matthews kicked things off by asking Rudy Giuliani "Mayor Giuliani, how do we get back to Ronald Reagan's morning in America?" Then he moved on to John McCain: "Let me go to Senator McCain. We're in the house of Ronald Reagan. Every cab driver in America knew what Ronald Reagan stood for: defeat communism abroad; reduce big government at home. Can you, Senator McCain, restore that kind of unity of purpose?" That, apparently, is what Brent Bozell considers a merciless attack: Asking Republicans if they'll be like Reagan.
Later in the debate, Matthews invited the Republican candidates to "mention a tax you'd like to cut, in addition to the Bush tax cuts, keeping them in effect." He never asked how they'd pay for those tax cuts -- though during a Democratic debate a week earlier, NBC's Brian Williams demanded to know how the Democratic candidates would pay for their health care proposals (while never actually asking them to explain the proposals.)
That wasn't the only double-standard apparent in those two debates. During the Democratic debate, Brian Williams asked Barack Obama a loaded question about his personal finances -- a question that managed to smear the other Democrats on stage as well. A week later, Matthews, VandeHei and Harris failed to ask the Republicans a single question about their business dealings, personal finances, or ties to controversial figures. Those types of questions were reserved for Democrats only -- and this in spite of the fact that Giuliani's close relationship with the breathtakingly crooked Bernie Kerik was very much in the news.
The last time NBC and Politico participated in presidential debates, they lobbed softballs to the Republicans and held Democrats to a higher standard of fiscal responsibility. That's just a fact. It's what happened. And so, in whining about NBC and Politico participating in a 2011 Republican debate, the Daily Caller, Brent Bozell, and several other conservative media critics don't mention a single thing about those 2007 debates. Because conservative media criticism isn't about reality, it's about blind hatred of the media -- and about working the refs.
While numerous Republican candidates apparently see an opportunity in stoking the unfortunate outrage over the Islamic community center and mosque set to be built two blocks from Ground Zero in New York, the Washington Post reports that "Republican strategists said there are dangers in pushing the issue too forcefully." The Post reports that Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist said attacking the mosque could hurt the GOP in the long run:
"The support for criticizing a mosque is half a mile wide and an inch deep," conservative activist Grover Norquist warned. "And at the end of the process, the only people who will remember it are the people who feel threatened by this -- not just Muslims, but Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Mormons."
Although there may be short-term political gain now from criticizing the mosque project, he said, the subsequent backlash and perception of religious intolerance may last a long time.
From the April 26 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
Loading the player ...