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.
In the eyes of many in the liberal media, President Obama can do no wrong. If he does, it's not his fault; he is simply a victim of circumstance, or he made the best decision he could given the options. One can tell news items portraying Obama in this light by their descriptions of problems in the passive voice.
Take yesterday's New York Times article by Jackie Calmes, for instance. The piece displays a conspicuous use of the passive voice in the headline: "Promise to Trim Deficit Is Growing Harder to Keep", instead of, say, "Obama's Policies Make Deficit Reduction Unlikely".
The refrain is getting old. When Obama's economic policies caused the debt to skyrocket, and didn't lead to recovery but rather to more federal spending aimed at shoring up the economy, it was because the recession was worse than the administration had planned. Obama's brilliant plans to raise taxes on businesses failed because Congress succumbed to political pressure. Anticipated savings in Iraq were nullified when it turned out winning a war in Afghanistan might actually require significant funding. And Medicare is already being cut to pay for the health care overhaul, so those cuts can't go towards drawing down the deficit. You see, it's never actually Obama's fault.
In keeping with the tradition of the holidays - the minds at MSNBC, the place for politics if you're of the lefty persuasion, decided rate the top 10 political stories of the decade.
And leading this gang of masters of the political journalism universe was "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, who on the broadcast of his Dec. 24 program, announced that conservative activism, mainly the tea party movement was the eighth biggest story of the decade - but labeled "angry white voters" (emphasis added).
"Welcome back to ‘Hardball' - our number eight political story of the decade, angry whites at town hall meetings across the country," Matthews said. "Lawmakers heard the wrath of angry voters."
Uncle Sam's Bureau of Economic Analysis today revised economic growth in the third quarter downward a second time. After originally estimating annualized growth of 3.5% in October and then reducing it to 2.8% in November, the bureau's "third estimate" issued today came in at 2.2%.
If that "third estimate" term seems odd, it's because this is only the second quarter the BEA has labeled its reports "first estimate," "second estimate," and "third estimate." Previously, the respective terms for the three monthly reports were "advance," "preliminary," and "final."
If you're thinking that today's BEA figure is bad news, you obviously haven't gotten the word from Associated Press reporter Jeannine Aversa, who after a brief "not to worry," seemed to wax almost rhapsodically over how great the current quarter and next year will be (a partial screen cap of Aversa's first six paragraphs is saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; bold is mine):
In his 1981 inaugural address, former President Ronald Reagan said, "Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem." Nearly 29 years later, that still holds true according to CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.
Both Cramer and Greenspan were guests on NBC's Dec. 13 "Meet the Press" and although neither was making a vain effort to be nostalgic, but instead explained that Congress' deliberations over an "agenda" was creating uncertainty for business.
"I think the priority ought to be get rid of the agenda," Cramer said. "I hear the agenda over and over again from business people. In other words, Congress is stalled on health care. I favor universal health care, everyone does in this country. But Washington is killing job growth, not - and then trying to stimulate it small scale? How much does it cost to bring a new employee in? We don't know. We don't know what the health care will be. We don't know what the tax scheme will be."
Each year the Business & Media Institute looks back on the year's news and selects the top 10 worst economic myths. Here is our 2009 list:
10. CBS, NY Times Support Ecuadorian Shakedown of U.S. oil company 9. Media Fail to Scrutinize Obama's Job Claims 8. Government Stimulus is the Answer to Our Economic Problems 7. No Tax Increases for the Middle Class 6. The Recession was Over ... by July. 5. Cash for Clunkers was a ‘Success' 4. Reagan vs. Obama on Jobs: Same Rate, Different Story 3. Health Care Reform will be ‘Deficit Neutral' 2. Tea Parties aren't made up of grassroots protestors; they're just ‘Astroturf.' 1. ClimateGate
10. CBS, NY Times Support Ecuadorian Shakedown of U.S. oil company.
Media myth: Chevron is responsible for abandoned oil wells across Ecuador.
A South American country is trying to squeeze $27 billion out of Chevron for environmental cleanup from discarded oil wells - all with the help of the U.S. news media.
CBS "60 Minutes" and The New York Times took the side of "eco-radicals" at the Amazon Defense Coalition who have filed suit against Chevron, even though the government of Ecuador signed off on the company's cleanup actions more than 10 years ago.
White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, recently ridiculed a Gallup poll which showed the President's approval ratings at a record low for this stage of his presidency, for seemingly no other reason than they showed the President in a negative light. Gibbs referred to the Gallup polling organization as a wildly fluctuating EKG, labeling their results as the equivalent of ‘a 6-year-old with a crayon.'
Predictably, this administration has managed to throw a temper tantrum at every instance of failure that has defined them. The only surprise here, being that Gibbs was capable of taking the pacifier out of his mouth long enough to make the analogy.
On the other hand, it was mere months ago that Gibbs himself used Gallup poll numbers to demonstrate support for President Obama's economic stimulus plan - a stimulus plan that a 6-year-old with a crayon would have voted ‘no' on.
Comedy Central's Jon Stewart used crude sexual humor Monday to bash President Obama's jobs summit.
After playing a videotape of the President asking those in attendance at last Thursday's forum "for specific recommendations that can be implemented that will spur on job growth as quickly as possible," Stewart offered a somewhat vulgar idea.
Delicately paraphrased, "The Daily Show" host suggested that people masturbating or performing oral sex be included in the government's jobs statistics (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, vulgarity alert, h/t Story Balloon):
The New York Times’s Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff published a long Saturday report on the Food Stamp program that went into print on Sunday.
This is the second of three posts on their coverage; the first went up earlier today at NewsBusters and BizzyBlog. It addressed the pair's seeming happiness with the massive increase in program participation, their apparent unhappiness that 15-16 million who could be getting Food Stamps aren't, and their sense of relief that the "stigma" attached to being on a form of government dole has significantly dissipated.
This post will deal with something that should have been right in front of the Times pair's faces: Even before considering loosened eligibility standards (the third post will deal with that), Food Stamp benefits (gross and net) have increased by much more than the rate of food inflation during the past couple of years, especially in the past year, during which the increase in net benefits has been a whopping 30%.
Here are a few article excerpts from the Times report that deal with benefit levels (the first excerpted paragraph originally appeared in between the two other sets of paragraphs presented):
Here we go again. We've already seen how ineffective the previous $787-billion stimulus Congress and the President forced through earlier this year has been with curbing unemployment, as it has raced into double-digits over the previous months. But will there be an effort to force through another one?
"John, what would you say, I don't know, the chances of some sort of an additional jobs stimulus - however you'd like to characterize that, or whatever form it would take or price tag it might have ?" Burnett asked.
Good Morning America’s Bill Weir on Sunday defended the $300 million in pork that Senator Mary Landrieu acquired for her state, spinning, "The people of Louisiana sent her to Washington to get as much sausage as they could, you know, she could."
Landrieu provided the 60th vote on Saturday to bring the Senate’s health care bill up for debate. In return, millions in new funding will go to Louisiana. Guest George Stephanopoulos touted the money as a real bargain: "But I think Democrats are saying it's a pretty cheap vote. $300 million. Without Senator Landrieu's vote yesterday, this bill would have died, would have been very difficult to put it back together."
It didn’t seem to occur to either Stephanopoulos or Weir that one job of a senator might be to not waste millions in taxpayer money.
On Saturday, Fox News analyst Jim Pinkerton credited the Media Research Center for highlighting the lack of media outrage over the Obama administration’s fake congressional district scandal. After referencing the revelation that the Recovery.gov website claimed thousands of jobs had been saved in districts that don’t exist, Pinkerton suggested, "They [Obama officials] were embarrassed, but as the Media Research Center pointed out, the morning shows gave the story exactly 21 seconds."
Pinkerton was referencing a November 17 NewsBusters blog which noted that Tuesday’s Early Show on CBS and NBC’s Today show completely skipped the developing story. ABC’s Good Morning America devoted just 21 seconds to the topic. On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, Pinkerton concluded, "So, no, [the Obama administration will] get over it, because the media aren't going to turn this into another Watergate."
A "new consensus" has emerged on the success of the economic stimulus package, according to a New York Times headline. In touting the supposed success of the legislation, and hinting at support for another round of spending, the Times neglected to mention the widespread fraud that characterizes the administration's attempt at shoring up the economy.
As reported by P.J. Gladnick on Saturday, the Times made sure to attribute its claims to "dispassionate analysts," and asserted that the stimulus is "helping an economy in free fall a year ago to grow again and shed fewer jobs than it otherwise would." Gladnick thoroughly debunked this claim, and others, in his NB post.
In a further show of bias, the Times article makes no mention of the 76,779 jobs that were not actually "saved or created" by the package, but were added to the number touted by the administration (interactive map embedded below the fold - h/t Examiner's Freddoso, Spiering, and Hemingway). Given that this number is roughly 12 percent of the 640,000 jobs the administration claims to have "saved or created," it might merit a mention in the Times's story.
Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time. Once I built a railroad; now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime? Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime; Once I built a tower, now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Forget about the Great Recession. Pay no heed to home foreclosures. Ignore double digit unemployment.
The stimulus package is working! That is thrust of a New York Times article written from the alternate economic universe. Here is the happy face appraisal of the stimulus package presented by Times writers Jackie Calmes and Michael Cooper who counter the criticism of that program with this gem:
But with roughly a quarter of the stimulus money out the door after nine months, the accumulation of hard data and real-life experience has allowed more dispassionate analysts to reach a consensus that the stimulus package, messy as it is, is working.
The print story is accompanied by a screenshot of Recovery.gov, which the caption beneath it notes "is the government's stimulus-tracking Web site."
Of course, the biggest inaccuracies recently observed on Recovery.gov are non-existent congressional districts purported to have been "saved or created" jobs thanks to stimulus pork sent their way. Yet Post staffer Ed O'Keefe was careful to keep that juiciest tidbit out of his entire 10-paragraph November 19 story.
NBC and CBS’s morning shows on Tuesday completely ignored the revelation that the Obama administration’s Recovery.gov website claims to have saved or created jobs in congressional districts that don’t exist. ABC’s Good Morning America devoted 21 seconds to the developing story.
On ABCNews.com, Jonathan Karl wrote, "In Arizona's 15th congressional district, 30 jobs have been saved or created with just $761,420 in federal stimulus spending." There is no 15th congressional district in Arizona. On Monday night’s World News, the network did manage a full report by Karl. He elaborated, "And it lists $34 million spent in Arizona's 86th district. That district doesn't exist either. In fact, in virtually every state, the website lists millions of dollars spent and hundreds of jobs created in fictional congressional districts."
With the unemployment rate soaring in 10.2 percent in Friday's report on October, two old hands in the Washington press corps appeared on Sunday morning shows where they asserted that means we need another stimulus bill and/or the problem is the current “stimulus” bill wasn't big enough. On This Week, ABC News vet Sam Donaldson maintained “we're going to have to have more stimulus, more spending.”
Over on NBC's Meet the Press, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, a former Washington correspondent for the New York Times before covering politics for the Post, complained: “The problem is the stimulus was too small, and they compromised it down and so you had less effect. I mean, the fact is these numbers would be a lot worse without the stimulus.”
Drinking the Kool-Aid on MSNBC wasn't enough, even for CNBC's Jim Cramer, to escape the reality that Obamanomics isn't working.
Back on October 12, Cramer, to his credit, knew there were some problems with the $787-billion stimulus passed earlier this year. However, he felt it was necessary to pledge his admiration for President Barack Obama, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. But, Matthews asked Cramer if there would be something tangible to back up that praise.
"OK - let me ask you the question," Matthews said on MSNBC's Oct. 12 "Hardball." "Let's talk about how we keep score in electoral politics, that's how we keep score. Between now and next summer, when people begin to decide how they're going to vote in next year's election, will the employment rate be coming down by then?"
President Obama lobbied for government stimulus almost as soon as he took office. In order to gain passage of that $787 billion spending spree, Obama warned of economic "catastrophe" including double-digit unemployment.
Roughly 9 months later, we now have proof that those billions of taxpayer dollars spent didn't stop the unemployment rate from soaring to 10.2 percent. Still, that failure didn't prevent one CNN anchor from asking if a second stimulus might be needed.
CNN business correspondent Christine Romans announced the latest jobs numbers on Nov. 6 during "American Morning. She said, "The unemployment rate is 10.2 percent. It is worse than economists had been expecting - 10.2 percent - we have hit double-digits on the unemployment rate now and this is the highest since the early 1980s. The number of jobs lost: 190,000 jobs lost in the month. That is a little worse than we had thought."
Following Romans' report, CNN anchors John Roberts and Kiran Chetry consulted author William Cohan, a contributor to The DailyBeast.com and Bloomberg, and Diane Brady, senior editor of BusinessWeek magazine. Both guests were concerned about the rising rate of unemployment and Cohan said he didn't see "anything optimistic about these numbers."
The White House is taking it upon itself to police the news media. The trend started of course with the Fox News Channel, but the administration has moved on to bash other organizations, most recently the Associated Press and car site Edmunds.com. It seems to believe that any criticism of its policies is worth attacking.
The White House claims, in the words of Valerie Jarret, that it will go after any organization that "spreads false news." But the attacks suggest that the administration will take on any outlet that challenges claims designed to further its agenda.
Edmunds calculated the number of cars purchased during the Cash for Clunkers program that would have been purchased without the rebates. The site determined that C4C had incentivized the purchases of only 125,000 automobiles, meaning taxpayers paid $24,000 per car purchase under the program.
Now that the Obama administration is attempting to take a victory lap on the U.S. economic recovery, claiming the $787-billion stimulus passed earlier this year was what did the trick, despite a cost of $160,000 per 'stimulus' job, as ABC's Jake Tapper pointed out, it has come at the cost of the U.S. dollar.
Since then, the stock market has rebounded nicely. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is off a March low of 6,547 points, even topping the 10,000-mark recently. But what has caused this nearly 50-percent jump? According to CNBC's Larry Kudlow - loose monetary policy by the Federal Reserve, with low interest rates, has made it possible for the markets to rise, with the 'loose' money going into the market.
"The funny thing is, Steven, it has gone into stocks - I mean the stock market guys ... there's no real multiplier for the economy, right?" Kudlow said on his Oct. 30 CNBC program. "But it has gone into stocks and the stock market crowd wants to see the Fed to keep pouring the money in no matter what happens to the U.S. dollar."