Glenn Beck and guests John Bolton and Stuart Varney mischaracterized a federal report to portray it as expressing "the worldview of the Obama administration." In fact, the document was issued during the Bush administration and is designed to "stimulate strategic thinking," not establish the administration's "worldview." Beck also falsely portrayed the report's discussion of trends in developing nations as applying to the United States.
From the September 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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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 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]
From the September 17 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
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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.
Stuart Varney's campaign of economic misinformation continued today on Fox & Friends, when he reported on a rise in disability payments and, with the help of co-hosts Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy, strongly suggested that the rise in claims was due to unemployed people "gaming the system," or committing "fraud." Doocy introduced Varney by saying he "says the jobless situation probably is worsening things and is getting people to game the system. In the history of Social Security, the number of people who are filing for disability has never been higher and you smell fraud!" Varney said "it's possible citing the fact that disability claims have increased from 2008-2009. From Fox & Friends:
Varney attributes this increase, in part, to two things: "A terrible underlying economy," and "mass unemployment." Varney is right, this did contribute to the spike in disability claims, but not for the reasons he thinks. Here's how he characterizes the effect the economy had on claims:
From the September 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Since President Obama took office, right-wing media figures have opposed every major package proposed to stimulate the economy, despite support from a consensus of economists and economic analysts. Recent opposition has included Obama's newly proposed infrastructure plan, the extension of unemployment insurance, aid to states, and food stamps, all of which have been shown to stimulate the economy.
From the September 7 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox News regularly uses Fox Business host Stuart Varney as their primary analyst of business and economic news. However, Varney has frequently advocated for Republican electoral victories and has described himself as "very clearly partisan."
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.
The right-wing media responded to Obama's new six-year jobs plan by rehashing the tired falsehood that the 2009 stimulus "failed." In fact, the stimulus has been estimated by both the White House and independent analysts to have increased employment by about 2 million jobs relative to a baseline estimate of what jobs levels would have been without the stimulus.
In June, Fox News figures downplayed job growth numbers by pointing out that many of the jobs created were temporary census positions. Now, those same Fox figures are hyping net job losses over the summer while ignoring that the losses are largely explained by the conclusion of those same temporary census positions.
From the September 4 edition of Fox Business' Freedom Watch:
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