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.
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.
From Barone's February 24 Washington Examiner column:
It's an argument that has often been appealing to Europeans but that has always been unappealing to Americans. That's why these advocates segue to other arguments, like Barack Obama's assertion that the government can expand coverage and save money at the same time.
But voters quickly sniff out what this means. The government will use the "science" of comparative effectiveness research to achieve cost savings the only way government can: denial of care. The Soviet medical system kept down the heart disease caseload by placing cardiac care units on the fifth floor, walk up. Death panels, anyone?
Right-wing media seized on Fox News and Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) reports and claimed that in December "five Muslim soldiers" were "arrested for trying to poison the food supply at Fort Jackson," often while fearmongering about a "jihadist" plot against the base or speculating that the delay in reporting on the allegations was due to a "Fort Jackson cover-up." The right wing has made these claims despite the fact that military officials have said "there is currently no credible evidence to substantiate the allegations."
In the latest attack on an Obama appointee, conservative columnist Cal Thomas and FrontPageMag.com each claimed that special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference Rashad Hussain has, in Thomas' words, "a history of participating in events connected with the Muslim Brotherhood." However, the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, from where their claims stem, has been criticized for employing a "fairly loose definition of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates," and numerous prominent conservatives have also met with representatives or affiliates of groups named in its article.
Conservative media outlets, as well as a USA Today blogger, have suggested or asserted that the Obama administration is forcing the recall of millions of Toyota vehicles for safety issues regarding reports of sudden unintended acceleration in order to denigrate the company, benefit unions, and boost sales of vehicles manufactured by General Motors and Chrysler, which the federal government bailed out last year. In fact, sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles has reportedly been an issue as early as 1999, and Toyota has stated that its recall was voluntary.
Both the Washington Examiner and Fox Nation falsely described the budget reconciliation process as the "nuclear option," despite the fact that the "nuclear option" actually refers to a procedure that would be used to change Senate rules. Reconciliation requires no such rule changes and has been used many times in the past.
Asserting that "global warming is a falling doctrine," conservative columnist Cal Thomas falsely claimed the climate change consensus "suffered a severe blow" from recent European winter storms and falsely cited U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) data on summer Arctic ice. Thomas also trumpeted David Rose's questionable January 10 Mail on Sunday article, which purported to report on the research of climate scientist Mojib Latif, but was denounced by Latif for distorting his work.
From a December 9 Washington Examiner editorial, headlined "Czar Obama takes aim at Congress":
Congressional liberals who failed to get their cap-and-trade scheme approved in the Senate are ecstatic about the EPA's ruling. There was a time when American liberals worried about excessive executive power; today they cheer as Barack Obama dons the robes of the imperial presidency in ways that Richard Nixon never dreamed possible. Consider, for example, the enthusiasm of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who said "the message to Congress is crystal clear: Get moving. If Congress does not pass legislation dealing with climate change, the administration is more than justified to use the EPA to impose new regulations." In other words, if Congress heeds public opposition and refuses to pass cap-and-trade, well, then Czar Obama will act on his own.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute is challenging the EPA Endangerment Ruling in federal court, but Congress ought not wait on the judicial branch to declare this action unconstitutional, as it surely should if and when the Supreme Court reconsiders the issue. Congress must assert its supreme authority now by denying funds for the enforcement of this pernicious ruling and explicitly directing EPA to withdraw it. Like Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are Democrats, but does that mean they must also be his servants?
In her December 8 Washington Examiner column, Barbara Hollingsworth writes of the tea party movement:
The growing grass-roots movement will indeed destroy the political careers of many politicians who fail to heed the warning it delivered Sept. 12, when 1.7 million angry voters (according to a crowd estimate by Zac Moilanen of Indiana University) descended on Washington to say they were totally fed up with bailouts and stimulus packages, and want the country to return to its constitutional, limited-government roots.
But as Media Matters has detailed, Moilanen's estimate is somewhat less than authoritative. Moilanen, an undergrad studying East Asian Languages and Cultures at Indiana, cited such not-quite-unimpeachable sources as a Free Republic post and a message board to arrive at his crowd estimate.
On the Right, it seems, a good falsehood never dies -- even after it's been repeatedly proven wrong, and especially when a deep-pocketed billionaire's money is financing it.
In a Washington Examiner column, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) claimed that President Obama and Congress "don't seem to realize that adopting bad policies kills jobs" and that "[w]e now have proof that the Obama administration's job-killing policies are hurting America." But to support his assertions, Gingrich made false and misleading claims about the Obama administration's and Congress' policies and failed to mention that the steep rise in unemployment began well before Obama even took office.
On his radio show, Glenn Beck claimed that "in the cap-and-trade legislation that is being proposed, the president has new emergency powers" that would allow him to "take over industries" if greenhouse gas levels reach a certain level, echoing other conservative media outlets that have claimed that the legislation requires the president to declare a "climate emergency" and "act like strong man Hugo Chavez." But the legislation explicitly directs the president to respond within existing statutory authority and to present to Congress any recommendations for legislative action.
Members of the conservative media, including Fox News, are attacking President Obama for not attending the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. But when Obama has traveled abroad in the past -- including a trip in which Obama commemorated D-Day -- Fox News and figures at other media outlets have criticized him for supposedly going on an "apology tour."
Echoing GOP claims, The Washington Examiner stated: "Even if we take at face value the White House claim that it created or saved [650,000] jobs with approximately $150 billion of the economic stimulus money, a little simple math shows the taxpayers aren't getting any bargains here: $150 billion divided by 650,000 jobs equals $230,000 per job saved or created." However, as the Associated Press noted, this "math is satisfyingly simple but highly misleading," because it does not capture the full impact of the stimulus.
Since President Obama declared the H1N1 pandemic a national emergency on October 24, conservative media figures have accused the Obama administration of attempting to, in the words of Rush Limbaugh, "create panic and chaos" in order to "sell health care." These charges ignore the prevalence of the disease, which, along with the consequent need to "enable U.S. health care facilities to implement emergency operations plans," were factors Obama specifically cited when he declared the national emergency.