Stuart Varney

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  • Fox Business Guest Completely Dismantles Any Economic Case For Trump’s Presidency

    Robert Powell: “The Reality Is Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees”

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    During an appearance on Fox Business, former Economist editor Robert Powell dispelled claims from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign that the candidate’s tax and economic policy proposals would generate at least five consecutive years of economic growth in excess of 4 percent annually.

    Powell, who is now the global risk briefing manager for the Economist Intelligence Unit, a forecasting and advisory business operated by The Economist, was interviewed on the August 24 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co. Host Stuart Varney opened the segment by asking for a response to Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore’s guarantee earlier this week that the massive tax cuts proposed by the Republican nominee would generate sustained economic growth far outpacing anything witnessed in the United States since 1966. Along the way, Powell poked holes in the arguments in favor of the budget-busting supply-side tax cuts Trump and other Republicans have advocated for years as a silver bullet solution to economic malaise.

    Powell mocked Moore’s guarantee, noting that “the reality is money doesn’t grow on trees,” and slammed Trump’s tax plan for promising to add trillions of dollars to the debt -- far more than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s proposal might. He undermined Varney’s unsubstantiated claim that cutting taxes will kickstart economic expansion, and reminded the Fox Business audience that President Reagan actually had to raise taxes to regain revenue lost to early tax cuts. Powell noted that to make up for built-in revenue losses, the rate of economic expansion would actually have to hit 10 percent or more -- which is not a “feasible” rate of growth. Most importantly, he questioned why Varney and his Fox Business cohort are gripped with so much economic anxiety when “unemployment is 4.9 percent” and the American economy is doing “relatively well” and is “a star performer” when compared with other developed countries around the world. From Varney & Co.:

    Powell mentioned during the interview that The Economist does not believe either Trump’s or Clinton’s plan can meet Moore’s arbitrary growth threshold, stating that “we’re perfectly reasonable, and we don’t think Hillary Clinton will deliver 4 percent growth either.” But Powell did argue that Trump’s position on taxes and economic policy is “less responsible” than his Democratic opponent’s.

    Trump’s inherent lack of responsibility is why the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global risk forecast for September 2016 ranks Trump being elected president as a threat to the global economy that is as big as “the rising threat of jihadi terrorism” and “a clash of arms in the South China Sea,” the site of a territorial dispute between China and other neighboring countries, including U.S.-allied Taiwan:

    One of the things that went unsaid during the interview was how absurd it was for Varney to accept Trump’s 4 percent growth target in the first place. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the United States has not witnessed five consecutive years of growth in excess of 4 percent in five decades. When failed Republican candidate Jeb Bush first promoted the target in June 2015, experts slammed it as “impossible” and “nonsense.” Since then, arbitrary targets of 4 or 5 percent growth have been adopted by other GOP hopefuls, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and now Trump. For its part, Fox News has consistently fixated on setting arbitrary growth targets for the American economy in excess of 3 percent, which it claims is proof of a failed economic recovery under President Obama.

  • Media Hype “Optics” In AP Report On Clinton Foundation, While Admitting There Is No Evidence Of Ethics Breaches

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & JARED HOLT

    Media are attempting to scandalize a report from The Associated Press that revealed that “[m]ore than half the people outside the government who met with now-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money ... to the Clinton Foundation,” calling the report “breathtaking” and “disturbing,” because it “looks bad,” and the “optics” and “perceptions” are problematic, despite the fact that their programs also note that “it wasn’t illegal,” and there was no quid pro quo. The focus on the “optics” of the situation rather than the facts has led some in media to criticize the reporting, and explain that “consumers of the media [should] think twice about whether or not the narrative” media are pushing “fits ALL of the facts.”

  • Fox Claim That Half Of Clinton State Dept. Visitors Were Donors Undermined By AP Report

    Associated Press Explains That Report Only Includes Her Meetings With People Outside The Government

    Blog ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Fox News personalities deceptively cited an Associated Press report to claim that half of all of Hillary Clinton’s visitors during her tenure as secretary of state were donors to the Clinton Foundation. But the AP only included her meetings with people “outside the government,” and the report made clear that her actions do not appear to violate the law. 

    A review of State Department calendars showed “at least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton … donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs,”  according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press.

    Fox News argued the report was proof of “influence peddling,” claiming it found over 50 percent of all Clinton’s meetings at the State Department were with Clinton Foundation donors. Stuart Varney, guest host of Your World with Neil Cavuto, called the AP report “clear evidence” of “a round robin of influence peddling” because Clinton “holds meetings half the time” with donors: 

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): This late report from the AP, roughly half the people who had meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had contributed money to the foundation. That is clear evidence, it seems, of influence peddling, doesn't it? You can't laugh that off, can you? 

    [...]

    You give money to a foundation. The foundation is headed by the Clintons. Hillary Clinton is secretary of state. She holds meetings half the time with with people who have given money to the foundation. That's a round robin of influence peddling. 

    The AP report makes clear that the meetings “do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former President Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009.” Additionally, AP explains that 154 meetings “did not include U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives”:

    More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money - either personally or through companies or groups - to the Clinton Foundation. It's an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.

    At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. 

    [...]

    The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. 

    [...]

    The 154 did not include U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives. Clinton met with representatives of at least 16 foreign governments that donated as much as $170 million to the Clinton charity, but they were not included in AP's calculations because such meetings would presumably have been part of her diplomatic duties.

  • Fox Scandalizes Report Claiming US Leveraged Payment To Iran To Ensure Prisoner Release

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News host Stuart Varney mischaracterized new details about the United States’ $400 million payment to the Iranian government, claiming that the State Department admitted that the money was a “ransom payment” for American prisoners. In reality the payment, stemming from a “decades-old” agreement, was “conducted separately from the prisoner talks” and was withheld as “leverage until the US citizens had left Iran.”

    The Wall Street Journal reported on August 3 that the Obama administration “organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran.”

    Right-wing media distorted news of the cash transfer -- which related to a settlement reached in 1979 “over a failed arms deal” that was resolved in The Hague -- to falsely claim the transfer had been done in secret and that the payment was ransom.

    The Journal then reported on August 18 that the cash exchange was “specifically timed to the release of several American prisoners held in Iran.”

    State Department spokesman John Kirby reportedly said that although “the US withheld delivery of the cash as leverage until the US citizens had left Iran,” the negotiations over transferring the money were “conducted separately from the prisoner talks.”

    Fox host Stuart Varney seized upon Kirby’s statement to falsely claim that the State Department “basically admitted that the Journal story is correct,” and that “this is a ransom payment.” Varney also said, “[it’s] very difficult to say that’s not ransom.”

    But the payment indeed was not ransom, as Kirby explained in an August 18 State Department press briefing. Kirby noted that the money was given to Iran after the prisoners had been released in an effort to “retain maximum leverage,” not before, as a ransom payment typically happens.

    Kirby also noted that the payment was timed with the prisoner release because “We were able to conclude multiple strands of diplomacy within a 24 hour period, including implementation of the nuclear deal, the prisoner talks, and the settlement” in question. Kirby made clear that “we deliberately leveraged that moment to finalize these outstanding issues nearly simultaneously” because of “concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release” and “mutual mistrust” between the two countries.

  • Fox Host Attacks Media For Covering Chaotic Vote Over RNC Rules

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    As chaos erupted on the floor of the Republican National Convention following a voice vote over whether or not delegates would be free to vote on the conventions' rules, Fox News first ignored the uproar and then criticized other media outlets for reporting on it.

    In what was billed as the last stand for the “Stop Trump” movement, a voice vote was taken to adopt rules drafted by the RNC rules committee. Despite chaos on the floor, it was ruled that “the ayes have it and the resolution is agreed to,” a ruling which was denounced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and other anti-Trump conservatives.

    While MSNBC and CNN were covering the scene from the RNC, Fox host Stuart Varney was attacking The Washington Post for its reporting on Fox host Neil Cavuto. When the network finally turned to the uproar, Varney used it to attack other media outlets for reporting on the “commotion,” saying “this convention will be treated by the establishment media as a series of confrontations, a series of crises. Very different from the expected media treatment of the Democrat convention next week”:

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): Now, we're bringing you this because there was some kind of commotion on the floor. Mike Lee, I believe, is trying to explain that commotion, whether it's a procedural thing, whether it involves those who oppose Donald Trump, that we're not quite sure of. The media, of course, is making the great play of some kind of commotion on the floor of the convention, which has already begun. We're trying to get our own James Rosen onboard to find out exactly what is going on down there. It's not a huge commotion by any means but Mike Lee, Republican senator from the state of Utah, is right there dealing with it. I'm not quite sure of his role in this commotion as I'm calling it. But that is what he is doing right now. Explaining to the media what just happened, why it happened, and what is going to happen next. That is Mike Lee on the floor of the convention. Now, the convention is barely been opened a fewer hours. Already we have contentious stuff happening on the floor. The media all over it, of course, as you just heard from Brent Bozell this convention will be treated by the establishment media as a series of confrontations, as a series of crises. Very different from the expected media treatment of the Democrat convention next week.

    Varney later repudiated claims that the convention had become a “car wreck,” saying that it should instead be described as “high drama.”