Back on Christmas Eve of 2009, Obama's Treasury Dept. said it would lift the limits on what the federal government could provide in "emergency aid" to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - without seeking Congressional permission.
Very few reporters noticed, except for The Washington Post's Zachary Goldfarb who reported the story on Christmas Day and CNBC CME Group reporter and tea party inspiration Rick Santelli, who later pleaded for the public to take notice. With that occurrence in mind, Santelli scoffed at Sen. Chris Dodd's, D-Conn., legislative proposal of financial system reform that did not include reforms on both Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE).
"You know, I can't believe, first of all - you said, may not be included. They are not going to be included," Santelli said on "Fast Money" March 12. "And I think to put a moniker of reform on something that doesn't include Freddie and Fannie is very disingenuous. And I think that to pass something - what I heard Mr. Dodd say, Sen. Dodd, was, you know, it's the 101st senator. In other words, you know, we'll pass anything we have to show that we're doing something, no matter if it's the right thing or not, you know, I'm not buying that again."
At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith promoted the idea of division within the GOP as he declared: "A controversial vote for brand new Republican Senator Scott Brown, as he sides with Democrats to help push through a jobs bill."
While it's certainly true that some conservatives took real issue with Brown's support of the $15 billion spending bill, Smith clearly saw an opportunity to stir up conflict on the Right: "the senator who broke the Democrats' super majority, Scott Brown, is taking some heat today from conservatives."
Rather than talk to any conservatives about the issue, Smith instead turned to liberal-leaning political analyst John Dickerson and observed that Brown siding with Democrats was a sign of his independence: "It's very interesting, though, because Scott Brown actually showed up at the CPAC meeting, the conservative meeting over the weekend in Washington, and yesterday he was quoted as 'I said I came to Washington to be an independent voice.'" Dickerson replied: "That's right. He said he was going to be independent and he, in fact, voted independently in this case."
On the Monday, February 22, World News on ABC, host Diane Sawyer seemed to rejoice in the "bipartisanship" of newly elected Republican Senator Scott Brown’s willingness to vote with Democrats on a "job creation bill," as she passed on the "fresh sign" of bipartisanship, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s expression of hope that it is the "beginning of a new day" in the Senate. After correspondent Jake Tapper concluded a report on the ongoing debate over health care reform by noting the unlikelihood that President Obama and Republicans will reach an agreement, Sawyer read the short item on Senator Brown's vote. Sawyer:
Where would the world be without an independent, citizen-run type of media? It would be in a dark place, according to Media Research Center President and Founder Brent Bozell.
Bozell addressed CPAC on Feb. 20 about the state of the media. He cited how bloggers played a role in unearthing the former White House "green jobs czar" Van Jones past for signing a statement about the September 11 truthers and for stating he was a communist.
"Van Jones was a story that was broken by a blogger," Bozell said. "Say that after me - God bless bloggers, God bless bloggers, God bless bloggers. Now this blogger writes a story about one of the Obama czars. Now these czars, these guys are dangerous for all sorts of reasons. They're not elected. They're not confirmed. And they're not even announced. You just hear about them. They're like maggots. You pick up a rock and you find a czar."
Hosting Sunday’s This Week on ABC, Terry Moran noted during the past week the Obama administration “fanned out across the country” to trumpet how “the stimulus worked,” yet President Obama “sounded a little frustrated that people don't get it” as, Moran fretted: “What did they do wrong? They're playing defense on what was one of their major accomplishments.”
Earlier in his interview with California's Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pennsylvania's Ed Rendell, whom Moran touted as “two prominent Governors who call it like it is,” Moran despaired at the shrinking size of the “jobs bill,” worried $15 billion is not enough and whether “there needs to be another stimulus” bill:
The Senate is taking up a jobs bill this week. $15 billion. When it started at the White House, it was $200 billion. The House passed $185 billion version. There was a deal for $85 billion. We're down to $15 billion now. But do you think there needs to be another stimulus, federal stimulus, like this? Is $15 billion enough?
Later, Moran described former Republican Senator Alan Simpson’s rejection of tax cuts as an effort “to get real.”
John Fritze of USA Today noted in an On Politics blog post filed last night that "Sen. Brown's 'not one job' claim [has been] questioned."
But in relaying the attack on the Massachusetts Republican senator's claim that "not one job" has been created by the Obama stimulus package, Fritze only underscored the point that Brown was making in the context of his comments.
There is no real, net job creation from the stimulus bill (emphasis mine):
David Leonhardt, who serves as the New York Times's conscience on economics issues as a columnist and reporter, celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Obama "stimulus" on the front page of Wednesday's Business section, while attacking naysayers as "hard-core skeptics" and pushing for yet another "stimulus": "Success of Stimulus Bill Is Noteworthy as Another Is Weighed."
Leonhardt's column instantly became a gloatworthy morale-booster to sympathetic left-wing web sites like Talking Points Memo and Huffington Post. Even White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs put it on his Twitter feed. But is Leonhardt bashing straw men?
On Wednesday Leonhardt led his readers, Philosophy 101-style, through a thought experiment:
Imagine if, one year ago, Congress had passed a stimulus bill that really worked.
On the one-year anniversary of the Obama administration's “stimulus” spending bill, ABC, CBS and NBC all eagerly corroborated the White House's claims about how it “saved or created” many jobs and staved off economic disaster, though they all offered a range of numbers and definitions (ABC: “800,000 to 2.4 million new jobs,” CBS: “about 1.8 million” jobs “saved or created” and NBC: “1.6 to 1.8 million jobs have been created so far.”)
ABC and CBS touted anecdotes about companies and government agencies which asserted the spending had prevented layoffs or allowed them to hire new staff. ABC's Jake Tapper cited buses for Santa Monica, construction jobs in Baltimore, “63,000 green jobs” (with a solar panel-maker's CEO declaring “it is working and we're proof of that”) and a school system superintendent who told Tapper the funding “ helped save 61 jobs and create 73 new ones.”
On CBS, Chip Reid began with how “this highway paving equipment company in California canceled plans to lay off 40 workers because of demand created by stimulus projects,” before trumpeting how “in Washington, D.C. about 20 people are working on this road project” where “manager Matthew Johns calls the stimulus a lifesaver.” [audio available here]
Though “many independent economists put the number of jobs saved or created at about 1.8 million,” Reid relayed that “to the great frustration of the White House, most Americans simply refuse to believe it. In a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, a mere 6 percent said the stimulus has created jobs.” Reid's culprit: “That skepticism due in part to a relentless campaign by Republicans who say the stimulus is a bloated, big-government failure.” (The online “Political Hotsheet” echoed Reid's theme: “On Stimulus, Perception Doesn't Match Reality.”)
Over at the most trusted name in news, they sure know how to party when it's called for. That was evident this afternoon on CNN Newsroom when anchor Ali Velshi gushed:
Happy birthday, dear stimulus. Our producer Ben Tinker (ph) baked this cake. It is a stimulus happy birthday -- first birthday cake, which is also a pie chart. It is the birthday of the stimulus. It is actually very --
In the same segment Velshi assured guest Jared Bernstein, chief economic adviser to Vice President Biden, that "I don't think we give much sway to people who say nothing (in terms of jobs) was created, it's just hard to actually respond and say something was created, cause jobs were lost."
Presumably not celebrating the stimulus's anniversary with a cake were the 94 percent of respondents to a recent CBS/New York Times poll who don't believe the stimulus has created a substantial number of new jobs. Of course, Ali doesn't give them much sway anyhow.
Those Americans don't matter. At CNN, it's time to celebrate Obama's great achievement and those hundreds - or is it millions? - of jobs he's created or saved. It's enough to send a thrill up your leg.
It's no surprise that Democratic National Committee chair Tim Kaine would agree with the Obama administration about the effectiveness of last year's stimulus packages. That's why CNN's "American Morning" should have at least included a single critical guest Feb. 17.
Kiran Chetry began the interview by citing a CNN poll that showed public skepticism regarding the stimulus.
"What do you say to Americans who feel that this $862 billion was basically wasted?" Chetry asked.
Kaine defended the stimulus by citing a New York Times piece saying that the stimulus "has pretty much done exactly what it was intended to do." The former governor gave the stimulus credit with getting the economy growing again. Kane also said it saved or created 2.4 million jobs.
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell appeared on FNC's Fox & Friends Feb. 17, to discuss how the networks have covered President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package in the year since its passage.
Using research from MRC's Business & Media Institute, Bozell told cohost Gretchen Carlson that, of 172 stories ABC, CBS and NBC have run on the stimulus, just 90 of them (52 percent) included any criticism of the massive spending program.
Asserting that the media have failed in their responsibility to cover the stimulus, Bozell said, "Remember, the president said very simply - he said we needed $787 billion because we needed to create jobs, jobs, jobs. That's what he said this was all about. He said if we didn't do this, we were going to have - we were going to go from 8 percent unemployment, to 10 percent unemployment."
Holding up for the camera a paper reading "7.7%," Bozell said, "This is where we stood at unemployment when this bill was signed. We spent $787 billion. This is where we stand today." He produced a second paper that read "9.7%."
"So two things are true here," Bozell said. "No. 1: This bill bombed. No. 2: What happened to the $787 billion, and where are the national news media?"
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith teased an interview with the Vice President: "We got a great chance yesterday to spend some quality time with Vice President Joe Biden. He's got a lot to say on a lot of different topics." During the interview, Smith shilled for the failed stimulus package: "The Vice President says the stimulus created or saved 2 million jobs. Many of them green."
At the top of the show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez announced: "Today is the first anniversary of the economic stimulus package." Smith treated it like a celebration, joking: "Where's the stimulus package cake?" Rodriguez replied: "There should be." Smith began the segment with Biden by citing a Pew Research poll showing only 24% Americans actually think the stimulus plan has improved the economy, but rather that challenge the VP on its failure, he simply asked if taxpayers "got their bang from the buck from the stimulus." That allowed Biden to argue: "Absolutely. But I don't think they realize it....The job creating portions are really loaded at the second half here....they have gotten their money's worth."
Traveling with Biden in Saginaw, Michigan on Tuesday, Smith touted one employer who was helped by the stimulus: "At Fuzzy's Diner, a local businessman, Paul Furlo, told us government-backed loans helped him expand and add hundreds of new employees." No critics of the stimulus were featured in the segment.
The Business & Media Institute's Dan Gainor appeared on Stuart Varney's Fox Business program on Feb. 12 to discuss a new BMI report about network news coverage of last year's $787 Billion stimulus package. The report found that ABC, CBS and NBC did their best to put a positive spin on the stimulus.
"All three networks were close to 3 to 1 in picking supporters to comment on stories, as opposed to anybody who might be critical," Gainor told Varney.
Asked about the new $15 billion "jobs bill" under consideration in the senate, Gainor told Varney, "Now the problem we've got is that the government solutions the New York Times and, frankly, the network news shows have always been backing, trying to make look good, are all these big government solutions that hire people for government programs. America has one of the highest business taxes on the globe. You fix that problem, and businesses will be able to hire again."
As the old cliché goes, you don't use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but according to Rick Santelli, that's exactly what it appears the Obama administration is doing terms of financial regulation and fiscal discipline.
On CNBC's Feb. 2 broadcast of "Fast Money," host Melissa Lee proposed that taxing the wealthy is not the path to "economic prosperity and fiscal stability." Santelli, the network's CME Group floor reporter, agreed.
"Well, you're right," Santelli said. "But I also think you're going to see when the Bush tax cuts expire, a lot of middle class write-offs and exemptions and various tax benefits will also fall by the wayside. Not the least of which to mention, I have so many friends that work for the financial industry. And they've learned from the government, even if you only make $25,000 to $125,000 a year, one firm says if you leave to go into another job or whatever, anything outside retirement, they're going to keep 10-to-20 percent of the stock they took from you following the government's directives."
Historically, there are two kinds of White House reporters: those that confront officials with the strongest critique and demand a response (think ABC’s Sam Donaldson, who dogged Bill Clinton in the late 1990s just as he had Ronald Reagan in the 1980s); and those who see their job as simply repeating the White House spin of the day.
Reporting this morning on the Obama administration’s push for another $100 billion in spending, supposedly for “job growth,” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie fell into the second category. Rather than amplify the growing chorus of critics who argue that we can’t afford more massive spending when the previous “stimulus” was so expensive and ineffective, Guthrie on NBC’s Today saluted the President for making a “judgment call” that “all economists” could support:
This is a budget where the President makes a judgment call. He's asking for $100 billion to spur job growth, things like tax cuts for small business, tax breaks to increase wages. And he's doing this knowing that it will drive up the deficit, certainly even more in the short term, but all economists agree the real way to get a chunk out of the deficit is to increase hiring.
On Saturday’s Newsroom, CNN’s Don Lemon deferentially took President Obama’s advice and interviewed a stimulus “skeptic” turned “believer,” whom the Democrat cited as an example of the success of the stimulus during his recent State of the Union address. Lemon talked up the stimulus and the Obama administration’s energy efficiency tax credit with his guest Alan Levin, whose company produces windows.
Before playing his taped interview with guest Alan Levin, CEO of Northeast Building Products, the CNN anchor played the relevant clip from the President Obama’s address: “Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia, who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created.” After asking Mr. Levin if he was excited by this mention by the President, Lemon inquired about this previous skepticism: “You know what, here’s the interesting thing. You were skeptical about this process- about the stimulus. You weren’t exactly sure that it was going to get you the right people and help at all. And now?”
The White House continues to throw out random numbers in their quest to convince the public that their behemoth stimulus bill is saving jobs at a massive rate. The confusion has even seeped into the President's biggest support group - the media.
CNN recently announced how the stimulus plan funded nearly 600,000 jobs this past quarter. In their article, which parrots the numbers provided by the administration's Recovery.gov Web site, CNN hints that these figures may actually be low, in that they do not include jobs created 'indirectly' (emphasis mine throughout):
"It does not tally jobs created indirectly through companies buying supplies for stimulus projects, people spending their tax cuts, increased unemployment benefits and the like."
Would adding the number of indirect jobs have provided a boost to the stimulus numbers?
Not quite, according to a source CNN can likely trust - themselves...
Watching the media's inability to find relevant investigative news during the Obama era is like watching a bald-headed fellow named Fudd hunting for ‘wabbit'.
Such is the case of the main stream media's complete and utter ignorance involving the administration recently steering a $25 million no-bid contract to a Democratic campaign contributor.
While Fox News reporter James Rosen did an in-depth investigative report (and follow up) on the deal with Checchi & Company - despite working for what the administration considers a non-news network - the entire media establishment had ignored a significant reneging of campaign promises, right up until that deal was canceled.
Doing his best impersonation of a crystal ball, NewsBuster Tom Blumer correctly foretold the future when he questioned the media response to the story:
"Will the rest of the establishment press risk the tattered remnants of its credibility, follow the White House's suggestion, and ignore the story because it's coming from Fox?"
President Barack Obama's plan to "freeze" a tiny portion of the federal budget hit Washington with a "thud" Jan. 26.
Conservatives argued that the spending freeze Obama would highlight in his State of the Union address Jan. 27 wasn't enough. Liberals, including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called it "appalling on every level."
Krugman denounced the plan as "bad long-run fiscal policy." Of course, this is the same columnist who argued for a much larger stimulus package than the $787 billion one that was signed into law.
After Obama's State of the Union address the spending freeze seemed all but forgotten - and no wonder since the speech was full of proposals to spend, spend, spend.
The National Taxpayers Union Foundation, part of a non-profit citizen's group that works for lower taxes and smaller government, analyzed all those proposals and found that despite the so-called spending freeze Obama's proposals would cost more than $70 billion.
Keith Olbermann should keep a calculator on hand during his broadcasts. If he'd had one, the liberal MSNBC host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" could have run the numbers on Jan. 27 following the State of the Union address.
Olbermann was recapping President Obama's speech and told viewers: "Among those seated with the first lady in the visitor's gallery ... a man from Arizona whose company received $99 million from the stimulus and used it to create at least 50 permanent clean energy jobs."
On Monday’s Charlie Rose show on PBS, during a discussion of how the Obama administration might change course after the Democratic party’s loss of the Massachusetts Senate race, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham argued that President Obama has so far pursued “centrist” policies, even claiming that the bailouts could be described as “center right.” After the Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut argued that, at the White House, they are not yet sure which ideological direction they will head next, prompting host Charlie Rose to ask whether they would move “to the center,” Meacham seemed to bristle as he insisted that President Obama is already “in the center,” and scoffed at Tea Party activists:
Two Democrats on Sunday blamed the soaring budget deficit on George W. Bush, and ABC's Terry Moran didn't challenge either one of them.
First up on "This Week" was senior White House adviser David Axelrod who told substitute host Moran, "President Clinton left a $237 billion surplus, President Obama received a $1.3 trillion deficit."
Moran didn't challenge this, nor did he press Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) when he uttered virtually the exact same Democrat talking point moments later, "When George Bush came to office, he had a $236 billion surplus; Barack Obama was handed a $1.3 trillion deficit."
Here's how a REAL journalist might have responded the second time somebody made the same stupid comment in the course of about 15 minutes:
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Americans were treated to a number of populist sermons on the "special interests" who would oppose "reform" at any cost to maintain the "status quo" from which they "profit financially or politically." The drug companies, the energy companies, the Wall Street bankers, and the health insurers were the corporate enemies of a just and harmonious America, or so one might have gathered.
Obama was at the vanguard of this populist charge. But since his election, he has proposed health care legislation that would subsidize Pfizer and PhRMA, a cap and trade plan that would drive profits to General Electric, and Wall Street bailouts that lined the pockets of the same Goldman Sachs bankers he so reviled during the campaign. What happened?
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney exposes and investigates this monumental disconnect in his new book "Obamanomics: How Barack Obama is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses." Carney explores the "political strategy of partnering with the biggest businesses in order to create new regulations, taxes, and subsidies." Those measures, he argues, actually benefit the biggest businesses by crowding out competition, consolidating market share, or giving billions in subsidies directly to those companies.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has a brilliant solution for Barack Obama to improve his sagging poll numbers: spend more time blaming George W. Bush for the recession.
"The Obama administration’s troubles are the result not of excessive ambition, but of policy and political misjudgments," Krugman wrote Monday.
"The stimulus was too small; policy toward the banks wasn’t tough enough; and Mr. Obama didn’t do what Ronald Reagan, who also faced a poor economy early in his administration, did — namely, shelter himself from criticism with a narrative that placed the blame on previous administrations."
Don't be surprised if such thinking gets this guy another Nobel Prize (h/t NB reader Jeff):
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took to the WhiteHouse.gov blog today to try to refute a devastating AP report showing that the the stimulus's highway and road funding has done next to nothing to improve the unemployment situation. Though he offered a couple of valid points, LaHood, pictured right in a file photo, actually did very little refuting.
The AP asserts in its report that "there was nearly no connection between stimulus money and the number of construction workers hired or fired since Congress passed the recovery program. The effect was so small, one economist compared it to trying to move the Empire State Building by pushing against it."
LaHood points out--fairly--that the AP examines the construction industry as a whole while the seven percent of the $787 billion that went towards funding highway and road construction (roughly $55 billion) only affects the transportation construction industry, not the industry as a whole.
The Associated Press's Tom Raum had to work really, really hard to come up with a sunny way to present today's jobs report and the President's reaction to it, which consisted of awarding $2.3 billion in "New Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credits."
Here's what he concocted: The weak employment report gave Obama the chance to change the subject from terrorism, where he continues to get hammered by Republican meanies, to something else. It's as if the only reason that the job losses occurred is because the Undie Bomber distracted Dear Leader's attention from his domestic agenda.
Here are key paragraphs from Raum's ramblings:
Obama refocuses on jobs after weak labor report
His agenda altered by the Christmas bombing attempt, President Barack Obama pivoted back to the domestic economy on Friday, promoting new U.S. spending to create tens of thousands of clean-technology jobs.