On the March 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Politics Daily columnist Matt Lewis advanced dubious claims first made by the Wall Street Journal that certain provisions relating to overhauling student loans in the reconciliation bill were added to benefit "a handful of favored nonprofit companies." The legislation in question eliminates the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, which, as the New York Times reported, gave commercial banks "guaranteed federal subsidies to lend money to students, with the government assuming nearly all the risk." Under the legislation, qualifying state-based nonprofits would be able to continue servicing federally subsidized student loans. Lewis and the Wall Street Journal suggested that this provision was added to benefit, as Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy put it, "some of" the Democrats' "nonprofit pals."
Their evidence? The Journal claims that one of the "several dozen nonprofit firms" that could be affected by this legislation, ALL Student Loan, "may have helped its cause by retaining the services of Vincent Reusing, a lobbyist whom the Chronicle of Higher Education has described as a 'personal friend' of" Rep.George Miller (D-CA). Lewis repeated this charge on Fox & Friends. Without explaining how, the Journal claims that ALL Student Loan counts as one of the "favored nonprofits" who will be receiving a new "revenue stream" from this legislation. But considering the Journal itself admits that ALL Student Loan is only one of "several dozen nonprofit firms" that could benefit from the legilsation, it's hard to see how this provision was included in order to benefit one nonprofit who hired one lobbyist who may or may not be a "personal friend" of one of the lawmakers involved in drafting the legislation.
Several media reports have suggested President Obama is hypocritical for making recess appointments because he criticized President Bush in 2005 for bypassing the Senate when he appointed John Bolton as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. But Obama was not generally criticizing recess appointments; rather, he -- along with at least two Republicans -- specifically argued that a recess appointment for such a high-profile diplomatic position could affect the United States' credibility and leverage in the U.N.
Following the announcement that President Obama agreed to issue an executive order reaffirming that the recently passed health reform bill maintains current law on federal funding for abortion, conservative media continued to falsely claim that the bill contains federal funding for abortion. In fact, the bill bans federal funding for abortion except in cases currently allowed under the Hyde amendment: rape, incest, and conditions that endanger the life of the pregnant woman.
Advancing a smear that previously had been promoted by the right-wing media, The Wall Street Journal news pages claimed -- without any evidence -- that Democrats attempted to make a "deal" with California lawmakers by giving additional water supplies to central California in return for their votes on health care reform legislation. In fact, the Journal's own reporting debunks the claim that a deal was struck; the Journal previously reported that the allocation was increased after El Niño winter rains "raised the mountain snowpack" in California.
From Noonan's March 18 Wall Street Journal column:
Now for the Slaughter
On the road to Demon Pass, our leader encounters a Baier.
Thursday's decision followed the most revealing and important broadcast interview of Barack Obama ever. It revealed his primary weakness in speaking of health care, which is a tendency to dodge, obfuscate and mislead. He grows testy when challenged. It revealed what the president doesn't want revealed, which is that he doesn't want to reveal much about his plan. This furtiveness is not helpful in a time of high public anxiety. At any rate, the interview was what such interviews rarely are, a public service. That it occurred at a high-stakes time, with so much on the line, only made it more electric.
I'm speaking of the interview Wednesday on Fox News Channel's "Special Report With Bret Baier." Fox is owned by News Corp., which also owns this newspaper, so one should probably take pains to demonstrate that one is attempting to speak with disinterest and impartiality, in pursuit of which let me note that Glenn Beck has long appeared to be insane.
That having been said, the Baier interview was something, and right from the beginning. Mr. Baier's first question was whether the president supports the so-called Slaughter rule, alternatively known as "deem and pass," which would avoid a straight up-or-down House vote on the Senate bill. (Tunku Varadarajan in the Daily Beast cleverly notes that it sounds like "demon pass," which it does. Maybe that's the juncture we're at.) Mr. Obama, in his response, made the usual case for ObamaCare. Mr. Baier pressed him. The president said, "The vote that's taken in the House will be a vote for health-care reform." We shouldn't, he added, concern ourselves with "the procedural issues."
On Fox, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore claimed that one reason the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the health care reform reconciliation package reduces the deficit is because it scored "10 years of revenue ... but only six years of spending," adding that "if you match up the cost with the revenues, I think most analysts believe that this is a revenue loser." In fact, CBO estimated that the bill will continue to lower the deficit after 2019, long after all the spending has kicked in.
From the March 18 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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Media reports have repeatedly clouded the health care reform debate by uncritically reporting on false claims that the Senate health care bill provides federal funding for abortion beyond the limited cases allowed by current law: rape, incest, and conditions that endanger the life of the pregnant woman.
In recent weeks, conservative media have promoted a number of myths and falsehoods about the possible use of the budget reconciliation process to finalize passage of health care reform.
In a March 11 Wall Street Journal editorial, Fox News Contributor Karl Rove falsely claimed that the Senate health care bill has "abortion-funding language," adds to the deficit and contains no immediate benefits. In fact, the Senate bill prohibits federal funding of abortion, contains numerous immediate benefits, and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, reduces the deficit.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board today asserts that President Obama's deficit commission is a "trap" designed to provide "political cover" for tax increases and the permanent expansion of the federal government. To support this claim, the Journal says "Obama has rigged the commission" -- which the editorial describes as "allegedly bipartisan" -- "so Republicans will be outnumbered by at least 10-8."
In fact, by design, the commission's recommendations must have bipartisan support. And contrary to the Journal's claim that Obama ensured "Republicans will be outnumbered by at least 10-8," Obama actually specified that Democrats will outnumber Republicans by no more than 10-8 [emphasis added]. According to the executive order creating the commission, both Congressional Democrats and Congressional Republicans will select 6 members. Obama chooses the remaining 6 members of the 18-member panel, "not more than four of whom shall be from the same political party." (Obama has already made his picks, including former Republican senator Alan Simpson, who will serve as co-chair, and Republican David Cote, CEO of Honeywell.)
The order further dictates that the commission's recommendations "shall require the approval of not less than 14 of the 18 members of the Commission." So to review, the commission will have 10 Democrats and will need 14 votes to issue their recommendations. So even if both the Republicans Obama appointed to the commission vote with the Democrats, that still means at least two of the members chosen by Mitch McConnell or John Boehner will have to be on board. Clearly this is a "trap" that Obama "rigged."
But lest you see through that poor attempt to discredit the commission's bipartisanship, the Journal continues: "[H]e's also rigged it a second way by writing his executive order to say that Congressional leaders can only choose current Members of Congress. The White House knows that some GOP Members will be reluctant to endorse spending cuts as part of the commission for fear of opening themselves to Democratic attack."
The Journal thinks Congressional Republicans on the commission will fear the political fallout of recommending spending cuts. At the same time, it claims that the commission is going to "propose ways to raise huge new chunks of revenue beyond the current tax code." So do the Journal editorial writers really think Republicans on the commission will prefer the political implications of recommending tax increases to those of spending cuts? Or have they just disregarded common sense in a rush to oppose the president and turn a deficit-reduction commission into a radical left-wing conspiracy?
The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by radiologist Mark E. Klein criticizing President Obama over the Medicare board's decision not to cover virtual colonoscopies. But Klein performs virtual colonoscopies at his Washington, D.C.-area practice, and the Journal did not disclose his interest in whether Medicaid covers them.
In the past week, media figures have routinely referred to a potential effort to pass a health care reform bill with a majority vote as an effort to "ram," "jam," or "cram" a bill through Congress, a characterization pushed by Republican politicians. The reconciliation process, which enables the Senate to pass legislation with 51 votes, has been used repeatedly by Republicans, including to pass major changes to health care laws.
Reporting on the Democrats' possible use of the reconciliation budget process to pass health care reform, media outlets have advanced the Republican criticism that reconciliation is "an end-run around the normal legislative process." However, the procedure has been used repeatedly by Republicans, and, as NPR has pointed out, reconciliation has been used to pass major changes to health care laws.
L. Gordon Crovitz falsely claimed in a Wall Street Journal column that Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, told BBC that "there was more warming in the medieval period, before today's allegedly man-made effects," when in fact Jones said the available data does not establish this claim. Moreover, Crovitz falsely claimed that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "has backed away from" its 2007 statement that up to 40 percent of the Amazonian rainforests are highly sensitive to reductions in rainfall; in fact, IPCC stands by the statement, which is supported by peer-reviewed science despite the incomplete citation in the IPCC report.