This morning CNNMoney.com reports "Jobless claims slide in latest week." The article starts:
The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell last week, according to a government report released Thursday.
There were 454,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended July 3, down 21,000 from an upwardly revised 475,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said.
A problem with the story is the numbers are, according to the Department of Labor, "seasonally adjusted" with a statistical technique designed to accommodate fluctuations in the job market. DOL's release paints a more sobering picture:
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 463,560 in the week ending July 3, an increase of 22,560 from the previous week.
West coast viewers got to see a July 4 CBS Evening News on Sunday, and those who tuned in saw CBS's interim "report card" on Congress's performance so far. Under the headline of "unfinished business," correspondent Wyatt Andrews and his sole expert, Politico's Jonathan Allen, both fretted how Congress is now "paralyzed" due to a "growing fear of the deficit."
Many Americans are probably wishing Congress had become "paralyzed" a few trillion dollars ago.
Andrews rued that supposedly job-creating "stimulus spending" may be sacrificed if enough congressmen feel deficit spending is now "political Kryptonite."
Many members of Congress especially those in tough re-election campaigns are home right now, trying to figure out the spending issue: Will voters support more stimulus spending if it directly leads to jobs, or has deficit spending itself become political Kryptonite?
CNN's "American Morning" reacted with an appropriately downbeat report, but the onscreen chyron led with the better news -- showing the lower unemployment rate rather than the job losses. Christine Romans also pointed out that it was the "best unemployment rate since July 2009," though later in the segment she admitted the rate is still "horrible."
NBC's Ann Curry offered a very brief report on the jobs data on "Today," also highlighting the lowest unemployment rate "since last July."
The report also contradicted Vice President Joe Biden's predictions of 100,000 to 200,000 jobs gained each month for the rest of 2010. This month, Biden is off by about 275,000 jobs
Overall, the news media have been supportive of the Obama's spending requests, a trend some continued in reports about the summit.
An "American Morning" segment painted a flattering picture of Obama at the G-20 summit by ignoring the "rift" between Obama's push for more stimulus and Europe's desire to slash budgets. Christine Romans made it sound as if everyone came to an agreement.
It's hard to imagine an economist being provocative, but Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner, has managed to do so.
In his June 28 New York Times op-ed, Krugman argued that since governments around the world aren't willing to double-down on Keynesian policies meant to stimulate the global economy, the United States and the rest of the world are facing a third depression. But on CNBC's June 28 "The Kudlow Report," host Larry Kudlow asked if Krugman's premise were true, how come none of the measures being applied, which Krugman advocates more of, have failed to have any effect on the current economy.
"Steve Forbes, I want to focus this, coming out of G-20," Kudlow said. "Paul Krugman's remarkable op-ed today in The New York Times - he says, we are already in the early stages of a depression. He calls it the third depression in U.S. history. He says that it's primarily a failure of policy. But, Steve, the so-called spending cuts or tax increases or deficit reduction hasn't happened yet. In the last two years, we've had gargantuan spending and ultra-easy money which is what Professor Krugman has been advocating the whole time. And he still thinks we're in a depression. So I need to ask you, maybe his policies are what threaten the depression."
Forget about the riots in Greece over a social welfare system the government couldn't maintain or a $1.4 trillion annual U.S. budget deficit. Krugman claimed that the threat of deflation supersedes both of those results of runaway government spending - that is higher taxes in the long run and a debt to future generations.
In his June 28 column for The New York Times, Krugman wrote: "We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost - to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs - will nonetheless be immense."
Based on the view of a single economist, ABC portrayed the agreement by world powers, at the G-20 summit in Toronto, to pursue fiscal sanity over the accelerated government spending urged by President Barack Obama, as a threat the well-being of the American people. “President Obama lost an argument today with other world leaders, and some economists say that could plunge the world into a second recession,” Dan Harris intoned at the top of Sunday’s World News.
From Toronto, reporter David Kerley agreed: “The President lost the argument and there could be serious consequences. Some economists are saying what was decided in Toronto today could actually lead to a double-dip recession.” A dire Kerley elaborated: “The worry is that by turning off the stimulus spigot the fragile economic recovery could disappear and turn into a double-dip recession.”
ABC’s “some economists” turned out to be a single one, Professor Peter Morici of the University of Maryland, who ominously warned: “It will be very difficult to recover from that. Then we start to get into depression-like conditions.”
George Will on Sunday gave a much-needed economics lesson to New York Times Washington correspondent David Sanger that greatly demonstrated the difference between how conservatives and liberals view unemployment benefits.
As the Roundtable segment of ABC's "This Week" shifted to the G20 summit in Toronto, Sanger said, "Just the day before [Barack Obama] left, Congress could not come to an agreement on a very small extension of unemployment benefits, you know, the most basic stimulus effort that the President tried to push."
Host Jake Tapper asked, "George, why can't they pass this extension?"
With the ball sitting up nicely on the tee, Will smacked it out of the park (video follows with transcript and commentary, relevant section at 4:10):
On his June 24 radio show, left-wing host Ed Schultz went on a rant against NewsBusters’ Matt Hadro, who earlier that day wrote a pretty inoffensive piece documenting how Schultz credited President Obama’s $862 billion stimulus package with more than doubling the size of his North Dakota construction firm.
Schultz bizarrely (and incorrectly) tried to ridicule the Media Research Center summer intern as a spoiled rich kid.
Did Mommy and Daddy pay your way to go to school? Are you a little conservative boy that gets all the tax breaks of the top 2 percent rich? Have you ever gotten your hands dirty doing a job, Matt? [employs falsetto voice] ‘Oh, Matty, it’s time for milk and cookies! It’s 4:00, come home now! And here’s some more money. Oh, I think it’s so cute that you’re working for those wonderful conservatives over at Newsbusters. Oh, Matty!’ I’ll bet you that’s exactly who that kid is.
What triggered Schultz’s wrath was Hadro’s matter-of-fact reporting of what the talk radio host said on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Wednesday:
On Thursday, a new unemployment bill died in Congress as Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) joined Republicans on the grounds that government spending can't go on forever.
Instead of reporting both sides, the media couldn't seem to hide their anger.
The bill was called a "jobless aid" package that "governors were counting on" to help "the poor" across the nation. Almost all news reports began from the Democrat perspective and waited several paragraphs before weakly defending Republicans.
Worse yet, a consensus with far more damaging impact began to grow: the loss will cause the nation's economy to fall into a double dip recession, and it will be entirely the Republicans' fault.
Never mind last year's stimulus bill worth $700 billion, or the bank bailout of 2008, both of which have failed to live up to promises of recovery. No, our economy is suffering because fiscal conservatives won't spend even more.
Imagine you're representing the AFL-CIO, going on Fox News and trying to make a case that the $787-billion stimulus last year wasn't nearly enough and that more is needed, despite the prevailing argument being that Keynesian economics doesn't work based on this example.
Well, Ron Blackwell - the chief economist for the AFL-CIO faced that on the June 25 broadcast of Fox News' "Your World with Neil Cavuto." Cavuto, asking some honest questions, pressed Blackwell, who was attempting to make the case for more stimulus, as to why the idea of more government spending to help the ailing economy was a legitimate one.
"You're not creating the jobs, with all this money you're wanting us to spend - then why should we keep digging?" Cavuto asked. "What's wrong with saying let's put the shovel down - that's not working?"
"Well, you know, it's all about, in my opinion, definition and choice," Santelli said. "Definition, I don't disagree with our guest, Richard [DeKaser, president of Woodley Park Research], about stimulus, but I haven't seen any stimulus. I've seen a lot of spending. And in terms of choice, austerity isn't something people are going to volunteer for. The creditors are going to force it on them. I think these issues are much different than we're selling them. You know, we don't have a new Hoover Dam. We don't have a new electric grid. We paid a bunch of salaries and benefits and extension benefits, unemployment with a lot of that money that you save jobs because you paid teachers because states couldn't afford it I don't think any of that really falls under a definition of stimulus."
Fresh off his Tea Party cover storyin the June 24 Weekly Standard, CNBC's Rick Santelli foresees what could be classified as an economic black hole for the United States of America.
On the network's June 24 broadcast of "Strategy Session," the CME Group reporter explained how the country could be headed down the same path and face the economic calamity the Japanese faced in what is known asthe "lost decade."That period, from 1991-2000, was one which the Asian nation failed to grow economically despite countless efforts by the government to intervene. But as Santelli explained - the U.S. version of Japanese economic policies could result in Greek-style austerity measures.
"The notion that we are turning into Japan has been something talked about on this floor for probably a year and a half," Santelli said. "What changes though, is that it is now a toss up between Japan and Greece and trust me the eventual solutions or recommendations for avoiding the pitfalls of either are completely different strategies. A lot of Japanese say, ‘More Keynesian, more stimulus, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend.' And the other side of the equation says, ‘Well then, you are going turn into Greece.' Where does the truth lie? One thing I can tell you is, is that demographics are a big issue in this story as well. The Japanese have a demographic time bomb similar to the U.S. in terms of underfunded pensions and liabilities."
While defending the Obama administration as a champion for small business owners, MSNBC host Ed Schultz revealed that his construction company more than doubled its number of employees in the past year – thanks to the stimulus bill.
"We've gone from eight employees to 20 employees in the past year, because of the stimulus package," he said of his construction company. "We've put some people back to work. There is some growth."
[UPDATE, June 26: Schultz lashes out at NewsBusters's Hadro on his June 24 radio show]
Schultz made that revelation as a guest on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" Wednesday morning. In a segment of the show where he was discussing corporations shipping jobs overseas and skimping on benefits to regular workers and labor union members, Schultz stepped up and defended President Obama.
"This President, and this administration, has done more for small business than any other President has in the last thirty years," he claimed.
On Friday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty tossed cold water on the Obama administration's "recovery summer" claims, stating that the "current recovery has been one of the worst for job creation ever." Cafferty also criticized the dangerous growth in the national debt, underlining that there "appears to be a rather serious disconnect," as the President requested billions in additional spending.
The CNN commentator began his 5 pm Eastern hour commentary with a contrast between Obama's "massive P.R. campaign" touting the apparent effectiveness of the $860 billion "economic stimulus bill" and the continuing high unemployment figure: "President Obama and Vice President Biden have kicked off a massive P.R. campaign, celebrating what they're calling 'recovery summer'....But the celebration may be premature. Just yesterday, the Labor Department reported new claims for jobless benefits jumped by 12,000 last week- much sharper increase than was expected."
Cafferty touted a recent editorial in the Washington Times which "suggests the administration's 'make-work' jobs program has failed, and that those infrastructure jobs, which are being funded by the taxpayers, will disappear when the stimulus money runs out- soon." He bluntly continued, "Fact is the current recovery has been one of the worst for job creation ever."
For taxpayer-funded PBS, the blueprint for America's future is centered on advancing the Obama administration's taxpayer-funded green agenda. In the June 17 installment of "Blueprint America," Miles O'Brien, a "NewsHour" special correspondent, hailed Dubuque, Iowa as the "city of the future" for transforming itself into a liberal beacon of environmental sustainability.
O'Brien's piece showered Dubuque with praise as it promoted the city's liberal environmental initiatives, which the correspondent noted are bankrolled with taxpayer dollars courtesy of the Obama administration's economic stimulus package.
"The people in this old factory town along the Mississippi have signed on to a unique experiment," explained O'Brien. "They're attempting to turn Dubuque into one of the nation's most sustainable cities."
Listing the city's seemingly countless awards for "livability" -- a term the PBS reporter struggled to define -- O'Brien championed President Barack Obama's budgetary boondoggle for the bountiful fruit it has given to Dubuque:
The news media have recently been struck with World Cup fever, with two broadcast networks sending reporters to South Africa to cover the games. At the same time, a bailout request that could cost taxpayers another $50 billion was ignored by most broadcast news programs.
ABC, CBS and NBC spent a combined 25 minutes 54 seconds talking about World Cup soccer between June 13 and 15. That was more than 38 times what they spend talking about Obama's latest call for further government spending - which was guaranteed to upset taxpayers.
While the World Cup is a worthwhile story, U.S. taxpayers might have ranked a request for $50 billion more of their dollars higher than the networks did.
Obama sent a letter to Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle June 12, urging them to pass a "derailed" $50 billion state bailout bill. But the three broadcast networks' newcasts have all but ignored it. "Good Morning America" was the only network newscast to mention the president's push for more stimulus. Its story was 40 seconds long.
The network morning and evening news shows have all but ignored President Obama's Saturday letter to congressional leaders asking for $50 billion in additional spending to prevent the "massive layoffs of teachers, police, and firefighters." Only Sunday's Good Morning America on ABC has covered the President's request so far.
The chief executive's June 12 letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader John Boehner urged "swift action" on the multi-billion dollar proposal to prevent the public sector layoffs and "give our nation's businesses added impetus to hire and grow."
ABC anchor Bill Weir brought up the President's letter with White House correspondent Jake Tapper 13 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour of Sunday's Good Morning America:
In a PBS interview June 2, Vice President Joseph Biden predicted 700,000 to 1.4 million jobs would be created by the end of 2010. But at most, that would still be more than 5.2 million jobs shy of matching President Obama's claims about economic stimulus.
Biden forecast job creation "between 100,000 and 200,000 jobs on average all the way through this year" in an interview with Charlie Rose. He also predicted "trouble in paradise" for the GOP.
Left-wing website The Huffington Post reported the prediction calling it "fairly safe" by "recent trends." Sam Stein wrote that, "Biden would not, however, mark a date when he thought the unemployment rate would dip to, say, six percent."
Stein didn't remind readers that Obama said the stimulus package would create more than 4 million jobs by the end of 2010. Once you take out temporary jobs and the 100,000 minimum needed every month to keep up with population growth, the economy would need to create 932,000 new permanent jobs each and every month through the end of 2010.
Update - 5/27, 3:08 PM | Lachlan Markay: A new Harvard study finds that increased government spending actually reduces economic activity, contradicting the basic premise behind CBO's assumptions. Details below.
Good economic news is so rare for the current administration, that when some does emerge, many in the media parrot it as fact without really examining the claims that undergird it. New CBO numbers on the stimulus, for instance, have been trumpeted as proof the legislation at least helped, despite the fact that the numbers have little to no basis in reality.
Congressional Budget Office models are based on the assumption that stimulus spending will create jobs. They assume the conclusion they purport to demonstrate, and then claim they've demonstrated it. But if the model is inaccurate or simply based on false premises, it simply goes on tallying jobs "created or saved" without regard to the actual employment rate.
In March, a reporter asked CBO director Doug Elmendorf: "If the stimulus bill did not do what it was originally forecast to do, then that would not have been detected by the subsequent analysis, right?" His response: "That's right. That's right." Yet despite those numbers' disconnect from reality, the media continue to report them as fact, and proof that the stimulus is working.
A $787-billion stimulus. Liabilities of $356 billion for the TARP bailout on the federal government's balance sheet. And that's in addition to other unfunded liabilities from federal entitlements like ObamaCare, Medicare, and Social Security.
But that doesn't mean the U.S. is heading down the path toward socialism because they were one-time expenditures, according to CNBC senior economics reporter Steve Liesman.
On CNBC's "Squawk Box" April 29, as jobless claims for the week was being released on the floor of the CME Group in Chicago, co-host Joe Kernen asked for Liesman's opinion.
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
So you do your part and pay your taxes to the federal government. However, you feel you pay too much and you don't like how that same government uses that money. Do you have the right to petition and protest that government?
If it's on federal land that your tax dollars paid for, then your protest is hypocritical nonsense, according to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. To her, the tea partiers, who protested on the government land of the National Mall, are hypocrites. Worse, they're getting unwarranted media coverage.
"In the case of the tea partiers, though, mainstream media coverage has been willing to almost assume that they're making sense, even in the face of evidence to the contrary," Maddow said on her April 21 program. "Because the idea of being in favor of smaller government, the idea that government is inherently wasteful and incompetent and should be shrunk, because that idea has shifted from a conservative movement talking point 30 years ago to centrist Beltway common wisdom today, sometimes we don't recognize the hypocrisy when it's right in our face. The conservative movement won the framing fight. It doesn't sound crazy anymore to rail against the federal government while standing in a national park until you really think about it."
Remember that $787-billion stimulus passed last year, the one that was supposed to keep unemployment from hitting double digits by invigorating a new green economy? Well it hasn't exactly worked.
Conventional wisdom would suggest not trying it again. Based on the nearly 10 percent unemployment, it's obvious Keynesian economic policies, where the government is a major force in an economy, don't work. However, MSNBC's "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough made the case for an even bigger trip down that route.
"We talked about Sputnik at the event we did last year," Scarborough said on his April 21 program. "I wrote in my book last year that Sputnik was the moment that Eisenhower, a Republican, leaned forward and created a new generation of engineers, a new generation of scientists. That led to the Mercury program, the Apollo program, a man walking on the moon and the Internet. Can we make that type of, again, long-term investment?"
MSNBC's Monica Novotny on Friday highlighted a dubious Vanity Fair piece lamenting the "cost" of the Republican Party opposing Barack Obama's agenda. The News Live host talked to writers Duff McDonald and Peter Keating about their contention that the "party of no" has cost taxpayers $1.34 billion.
Apparently, the GOP and various conservative organizations total this much by not supporting health care or the stimulus. Never mentioned in the article or during the segment is the fact that Obama's spending on those two items alone will end up costing taxpayers $3.3 trillion, 2500 times the amount of the expensive Republicans.
During the segment, Keating snidely remarked, "And, you know, Republican offices need heat and light and water and sewage. People are showing up just to say no and we're paying for it!" Earlier in the piece, Novotny played along and complained, "So, for that [the price of the GOP], we've got nothing?"
The media is still having trouble understanding the Tea Party movement and what it is protesting, even though its roots are clear.
On Feb. 19, 2009 during CNBC's "Squawk Box," Rick Santelli made his famous rant heard around the world, calling for a so-called tea party-style revolt. And that helped fuel the growth of a Tea Party movement that has resulted in more than 600 protests this April 15, 2010.
Santelli's call for protest wasn't about high taxes. Instead, it was a cry against the Obama administration's plan for a taxpayer-funded mortgage bailout. The very beginning of the tea parties was about bailouts and the growth of government.
But the Associated Press still seemed to miss the point about worries over an overspending government in an April 15 article by Calvin Woodward about the Tea Party rallies. In that report, Woodward defended Obama's tax policies.
"Lost in the rhetoric was that taxes have gone down under Obama," Woodward wrote. "Congress has cut individuals' federal taxes for this year by about $173 billion, leaving Americans with a lighter load despite nearly $29 billion in increases by states. Obama plans to increase taxes on the wealthy to help pay for his health care overhaul and other programs."
Pop quiz: how do you cut taxes on low and middle-income wage earners and end up with a greater percentage of people paying taxes?
Such is a question the folks at the Associated Press should be asking themselves concerning a piece the wire service published Wednesday entitled "Nearly Half of US Households Escape Fed Income Tax: Recession, new tax credits have nearly half of US households paying no federal income tax."
In the same paragraph, author Stephen Ohlemacher predictably bashed former President George W. Bush's tax cuts that were "generous to wealthy taxpayers" while he applauded "tax cuts for low- and middle-income families, which were expanded when Obama signed the massive economic recovery package last year."
There's only one problem with this premise - the net result was that a higher percentage of people paid federal income taxes in Obama's first year in office than in Bush's last:
A recent blog post from Earl Devaney seeks to dispel several so-called myths involving the Recovery Board, but does little to dispel the notion that those operating the Recovery.gov Web site are woefully inept.
In fact, Devaney's defense for the ‘phantom' congressional districts (clerical errors), the claims that he reports to the Obama administration (they simply listen and adjust their thinking), and the complaint that Recovery.gov itself cost $18 million to overhaul (it might cost up to $18 million), make the operation look amateurish at best.
Couple all of this with stories of overly complicated systems involved in the stimulus application process, and inaccuracies in the reporting of supposed ‘two-time losers' - an error that prompted a statement of apology from the board -, and one can only envision those CareerBuilder monkey commercials from years past.
More troubling is Recovery.gov's insistence on using the phrase ‘jobs created' when tracking stimulus funds - as can be seen here on a report designed to show the viewer the ‘Most Jobs Created by State'. This comes nearly three months after Ed Pound, Spokesman for the Recovery Board, told ABC News that, "...since OMB is not going to use ‘jobs created or jobs saved' anymore, we're not going to use it either."
The reason the Office of Management and Budget was distancing itself from the phrase?
Democratic congressional efforts to steer the economy not working as advertised. The $787-billion stimulus passed back in early 2009 failed to curb unemployment as promised, and there are other risks of putting a blind trust in government to solve the nation's economic woes.
And to give credit where credit is due, CNN's Christine Romans is pointing these risks out. On the April 5 broadcast of "CNN Newsroom" hosted by Ali Velshi, Romans was asked about the politics of extending unemployment benefits, which were held up through the Easter recess by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. According to Romans, there is a tug-of-war going on in the Senate.
"The Senate Democrats say they are going to plug ahead and plow forward," Romans said. "The issue here is the same issue as last month basically. You have some Republicans - one in particular, Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma - saying, ‘Look, we've got to be able to pay for this. Let's pay for it. Let's do it. It's the right thing to do to help people. Let's find a way to pay for it.' And you have Democrats who are saying, ‘No, this is emergency spending. This is an emergency. The jobless situation is an emergency. Let's just do it right now quickly without finding another way to pay for it.'"
Former Clinton operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos interviewed former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich on Friday's Good Morning America and wondered what more the government can do to bring down unemployment.
After business reporter Suzy Welch highlighted the plight of states with high unemployment having to layoff teachers, Stephanopoulos advocated, "Suzy, that would mean more stimulus, more aid to state and local governments. Can you buy that?"
Talking to his former colleague, Reich, the anchor wondered, "So, the big question is, what more, if anything, does the government need to do about [unemployment]?"