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."
When Katie Couric and the folks at CBS start doubting what the Administration says about how effective February's economic stimulus package was, you know President Obama is in trouble.
Consider that on Thursday's CBS "Evening News," Chip Reid began a segment with the following startling statement about a jobs report card to be released by the White House Friday:
Well, Katie, that report is going to claim that the stimulus has already created or saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, but if the administration`s first effort at counting stimulus jobs is any guide, tomorrow`s numbers could be hard to believe.
Readers are advised to make sure youngsters are out of the room, for watching Katie and the Gang say the White House might be fudging numbers could be way too frightening for minors (video embedded below the fold with transcript, h/t Terri Green, file photo):
It would appear that the Apparatchik Press -- er, the Associated Press -- thinks that part of its job is to soften the impact of embarrassing admissions made by Obama administration members.
Take the wire service's Thursday afternoon AP report by Jim Kuhnhenn on Council of Economic Advisers' chair Christine Romer's observations about the stimulus package. Romer said (in AP's words) that "the government's economic stimulus spending has already had its biggest impact," and will (in Romer's words) "likely be contributing little to further growth by the middle of next year."
As you'll see shortly, AP's headline doesn't reflect what Romer said. Additionally, Kuhnhenn allowed Romer to mischaracterize the economy's performance in the second quarter without challenging it, and saved the big news -- yet another administration official admitting that unemployment will stay near double digit through the end of next year -- for his eighth paragraph.
Here's a graphic capture of Kuhnhenn's first eight paragraphs, posted for fair use and discussion purposes:
Showing that Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have become interchangeable, in the 2:00PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Contessa Brewer mistakenly introduced Jackson as Sharpton: “Joining me now to talk about this and the nation’s real problem of joblessness, the Reverend Al Sharpton....I’m so sorry, the – the script in front of me said Reverend Al Sharpton...I know who you are, Reverend Jackson.”
Brewer was just starting to bash capitalism as she made the error: “A Goldman Sachs adviser....Brian Griffith says, quote, ‘we have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all.’” She then sarcastically asked Jackson: “What’s your reaction to hearing someone say, you know, when it comes to income inequality, all’s well, the rising tide floats all boats?” Before replying, Jackson had to clarify his identity: “I’m Reverend Jesse Jackson.” Which prompted Brewer’s apology. Jackson went on to argue that Griffith’s claim was a “vulgar statement.”
Eight months after President Obama signed a stimulus package worth $787 billion, less than half the funds have been spent and nearly half of Americans want the remainder to be repealed.
Of course, that hasn't stopped the mainstream media from pushing for more.
Recall that before the first bill was even signed, Reuters hailed a statement from billionaire George Soros warning that it wouldn't be enough. In July, NewYork Times columnist Paul Krugman called the bill "inadequate" and bemoaned fiscal conservatives for their "bittter and unrelenting" skepticism.
It's an odd natural occurrence when you put MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews and CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer together, but when it happens they seem to draw some obvious conclusions - albeit nearly 10 months too late.
It isn't often that one can see two decades of history re-written in under ten minutes. But such was the occasion on this morning's episode of Morning Joe. Max Blumenthal, author of "Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party," spent his time on the show demonstrating the combined power of cognitive dissonance, wanton ignorance, and a willingness to re-write historical fact.
Let's take it in chronological order, shall we?
First, Blumenthal is asked to present the major thesis of his book:
Although some in the liberal media were all too eager to point out instances where some are celebrating President Barack Obama's "epic fail" in the media, it was just a matter of time before conservatives and Republicans got the blame for the President's inability to secure the 2016 Olympics for Chicago.
Enter MSNBC's Ed Schultz. During his Oct. 2 MSNBC show, the liberal host launched into a rant blaming the Republican Party and went as far as comparing the party to the anti-American antics put on by Jane Fonda during the Vietnam War. (audio available here)
Former Clinton Labor Secretary and current Obama economic advisor Robert Reich was laughed at Friday for claiming "the stimulus package is the thing that is actually keeping the economy up, keeping people employed."
In a discussion on CNBC about the larger than expected September job losses reported Friday by the Labor Department, Reich was explaining to hosts Melissa Francis and Lawrence Kudlow how things would be much worse if not for the stimulus package.
He also implied that things won't get better until healthcare is reformed.
In the middle of this absolutely absurd statement, Francis and Kudlow appeared to look at each other with the former breaking out into laughter and the latter doing his best to hold it back (video embedded below the fold):
We looked specifically at seven months of coverage in 1982 and again in 2009 that had very similar periods of unemployment where it was going up between 8 - between 8 and the high 9 percent range. And what we found was that the network reporting on ABC, NBC and CBS was overwhelmingly negative to Reagan but positive toward Obama. They were actually 13 times more negative to President Reagan than they were to Obama.
The progressive mindset is a curious one, as evidenced by New York Times columnist and Nobel Economics Prize recipient Paul Krugman.
Krugman appeared on MSNBC's Sept. 23 "The Rachel Maddow Show" and lamented that the Obama Administration missed the opportunity the recent financial crisis offered to fundamentally change how the American economy operates. Host Rachel Maddow asked Krugman what the Great Depression taught economists when it comes to avoiding a repeat.
"It taught us a lot about how to avoid one, which is that you really have to, have to put some constraints. I mean, it sort of roughly, banking is very useful but extremely dangerous and banks have to have all kinds of - you know, fencing put around them as a protection. They have to have some guarantees so that we don't have bank runs, so people know their money is safe. But then, we also have some regulation so that bankers don't take huge risks with other people's money on a ‘heads I win, tails you lose' basis."
ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Friday attacked wasteful government spending of stimulus money, even going to the John Murtha Airport in Western Pennsylvania, which he derided as a "ghost town." Providing some refreshing journalistic skepticism about the Obama legislation, Karl described the airport as a "monument to powerful Democratic Congressman John Murtha."
The House member’s portrait could be seen in the background as Karl reported for Good Morning America on the $17 million that the tiny airport has received. (Politico puts the total number at $150 million.) The reporter conducted a tour of the empty, quiet building: "When we visited Murtha Airport earlier this year, the place looked like a ghost town. We have rented a car. But the Hertz counter is as deserted as the rest of the airport." (Karl also traveled to other small town airports that recieved money.)
Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer on Tuesday conducted a surprisingly tough interview with Tim Geithner, grilling the Treasury Secretary on tax increases, spending and highlighting the 9/12 rally in Washington D.C. Speaking of the American people, she asserted, "They don't see a possible way out without tax raises."
After Geithner tried to squirm out of responding, Sawyer, who will leave GMA in January to become the anchor of ABC’s World News, reiterated, "Are you still guaranteeing that no one in America will have their taxes raised unless they make more than $250,000 a year?" Geithner noted how this was a "commitment" for the President, prompting Sawyer to again attempt to nail down a firm answer: "That's your promise? It will not happen?"
About a year ago, then-Senator and Democratic nominee Barack Obama managed to seize control of the issue of taxes from the Republican Party by promising lower taxes for "95 percent of Americans."
But today it's a drastically different situation. Obama's $787-billion stimulus has been passed into law and the administration is taking on higher deficits, which will only increase if a Democrat health care reform bill passes. It looks as though the president's hand will be forced and he will have to raise taxes. That's begs question - where were the media on this a year ago?
CNBC's Erin Burnett asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at a CNBC made-for-television town hall on Sept. 10 if taxes would be raised. Geithner dodged the question, but Burnett interpreted the dodge to mean yes, as she explained on NBC's Sept. 13 "Meet the Press."
If you rely only on the three major broadcast networks or one of the top major national papers as your news sources, the name "Van Jones" might prompt you to say,"Who?" But, while the media had difficulty reporting on Van Jones the embattled member of the Obama Administration, it had no such trouble covering Van Jones the anti-Iraq War protestor.
Jones, who was President Barack Obama's so-called "green jobs czar" resigned in the middle of the night on Sept. 6 - a Saturday night/Sunday morning on Labor Day weekend. He had for weeks been embroiled in controversy after revelations that he had signed a petition demanding an investigation into whether the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job by the U.S. government, was a self-described communist and had publicly derided Republicans as "a**holes." But the story had gotten little coverage from the mainstream media.
It's clear that President Barack Obama's $787-billion stimulus hasn't worked as advertised, but some economists are worried it could backfire and cause something much worse.
According to a new study by economists Charles Rowley of George Mason University and Nathanael Smith of the Locke Institute and endorsed by Nobel laureate James Buchanan, the Keynesian tactics employed by Obama "will ultimately hamper the long-term growth potential of the U.S. economy and may risk delaying full economic recovery by several years." The study accuses the president of making Depression-era mistakes.
Stephen Moore, member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board and senior economics writer, explained the study on Fox News "On the Record" Sept. 7 and said that the stimulus certainly hasn't lived up to its billing.
Give Sharon Silke Carty of USA Today credit for unearthing important information about the serious back-office problems with Uncle Sam's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program, popularly known as "Cash for Clunkers."
But Carty didn't do nearly as much as she could have with the information she learned. Her most grievous oversights were her failures to compare the government's newly promised payment timetable to the 10 days dealers were told to expect, and to explain to her readers the extra unreimbursed costs dealers will have incurred as a result of the program even if (emphasis if) dealers receive full payment for their Clunker transactions.
What is it about consequences that the liberal media and government simply cannot grasp?
CNN "Newsroom" admitted Aug. 27 that new car prices are "expected" to go up as a result of the government Cash for Clunkers giveaway.
Heidi Collins told viewers, "The success of the Cash for Clunkers program may be pushing new car prices higher. Dealerships are expected to have lower inventory over the next few months, meaning higher prices for consumers. Around 700,000 people took advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program."
Collins' use of the word "success" to describe the program was consistent with the media's advocacy of the program. All three broadcast networks called it a "victim of its own success," after the initial $1 billion in funding ran out after just a week - instead of the 14 weeks projected.
Try to keep a straight face when you hear this: President Barack Obama isn't getting enough media love.
That's the world view of MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews - at least when it comes to the economy. According to Matthews, there has been a plethora of positive economic news - from a stock market that has shrugged off the threat of bad liberal policy, i.e. cap-and-trade or ObamaCare, to the actions of newly reappointed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke of pumping liquidity into the economy.
"What do you make of this whole thing about the good economic news out there the president gets no credit for?" Matthews said on his Aug. 25 show. "I'm in the stock market. I have suffered like others before and I have seen this comeback - back up to almost 10,000 now. He gets nothing for this. The fact that consumer confidence, which was once closer to the bone, is way up. The fact that the Fed chair has done such a good job in pumping up the money supply and pumping back the economy, and averting a Great Depression - no credit."
On CNN's American Morning today, business correspondent Christine Romans explained to anchor Kiran Chetry why there are new estimates showing the Federal deficit to be much worse than originally projected by the Obama administration:
ROMANS: Why? OK, this is really -- it's a complicated problem with a very simple analysis. It's how much money the government is taking in and how much money is going out.
Let's look at how much is going out. Government spending has skyrocketed as you all know over the past couple of years, up 21 percent in the first ten months of this year. Unemployment benefits, health care, bailout programs. We are spending more money than we take in. We are spending gobs of money constantly on lots of different programs to try to get this economy out of the mess it's in. At the same time, revenue is plunging.
The money that's coming in to the Treasury Department is plunging down 17 months in the first ten months, or 17 percent, rather, in the first ten months, declining income and peril taxes. People are out of work. We're not making as much money.
ROMANS: That's going down. Non-wage income. All other kinds of income people have down sharply. And then that stimulus tax credit -- that has to come from somewhere. Right? Everyone is getting this big tax break, that means less money going in.
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Ben Tracy reported on the ending of the problem-ridden Cash for Clunkers car buying program, but spun it this way: "Thanks to Cash for Clunkers, what could have been a dismal summer for car sales now has a Hollywood ending....But now, the wildly successful program that provided up to $4500 per clunker is being scrapped."
Tracy visited a Los Angeles Toyota car dealership, hence the Hollywood reference, and spoke with owner Don Mushin who explained: "We normally sell about 300 cars a month. We’re on track this month to do about 600." However, Tracy went on to acknowledge: "Yet, there have been problems. Dealers have to front the money for the rebates, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the government has been slow to pay them back.."
Ben Bernanke's able use of monetary policy to steer the economy during the current financial crisis sometimes makes it easy to forget that Bernanke helped steer the ship into that crisis early in his term as Federal Reserve Chairman and a member of the Fed's Board of Governors. That's a point Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) founder and CEO George Friedman made when asked the likelihood of President Obama reappointing Bernanke.
"Bernanke presided over the events leading up to the greatest financial crisis we've seen in quite a while," Friedman told CNBC's Steve Liesman. "The best that can be said is that he didn't make it any worse than he already made it. The president is not going to be wanting to reappoint the man that most of the country regards as responsible for the problem."
In an interview with CNBC Asia from the World Capital Market Symposium on the Aug. 10 broadcast of "Squawk Malaysia" Krugman said the stimulus that passed earlier this year was inadequate.
"We should be doing something to give the world, well give each of the major economies more of a jolt," Krugman said. "I mean, we've had these stimulus packages, but they were all inadequate. The United States, it was clear from day one that this wasn't going to be big enough."
After touting the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program as a "runaway success" and "great for the environment," Friday’s CBS Early Show finally reported on problems with the plan as co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "And find out why the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program could actually end up costing you long term."
While previous Early Show segments on the plan gave only passing attention to its critics, Rodriguez began Friday’s story by explaining: "Congress has passed a $2 billion extension for the popular ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program, but some critics are being vocal this morning, saying it may not be such a good idea after all." Correspondent Terrell Brown reported: "‘Cash for Clunkers’ is said to be environmentally friendly, but some are trashing the new government program....Recyclers say some salvaged car engines are still valuable. Instead, they’re being needlessly destroyed." One wonders why CBS did not highlight this criticism before the government spent another $2 billion on the program.
Brown went on to describe the car-destroying process: "Dealers are told to destroy the engine by replacing oil with sodium silicate and then running it....With the engine destroyed, many cars bypass the part recyclers and go straight to the salvage yards." The report featured the vice president of the Automotive Recylers Association, Michael Wilson: "We think a much more efficient program would have been to encourage recycled parts usage....All those parts that could have been reused will go right to a scrap processor."
Economists can argue back and forth in the media about the effect of big government programs such as the stimulus package and Obamacare but few things have illustrated government waste as effectively as this disturbing YouTube video in which a well running Volvo engine was destroyed as part of the Cash for Clunkers program. This video is currently going viral on the Web and has sparked outraged comments from many people whom I suspect have previously remained somewhat uninterested in the often elusive topic of economics. However, the wasteful destruction of this car seems to have awakened an economic sense of revulsion to an extent rarely seen before.
Here is a sampling of their YouTube comments which are in sharp contrast to the glowing praise of the Cash for Clunkers program prevalent in the MSM:
Say what you want about the Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck and his antics, but to give credit where credit is due, he exposed some disturbing language from the Obama administration's "Cash for Clunker" program Web site Cars.gov.
"Here is Cars.gov. Let's say you go in, if I understand this right - I go in and I say, ‘I want to turn in my clunker.' The dealer goes to Cars.gov, and then they hit submit transaction. Here it says, ‘Privacy Act & Security Statement,' and you're just like, ‘Oh, it's the Privacy Act of 1974. Whatever, I agree. Now, this is how bad this system is."
A year ago, when the government reported second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubled from the first quarter to 1.9 percent, the CBS Evening News centered a story around what Katie Couric described as “disappointing” news while ABC and NBC didn't utter a syllable about the GDP jump.
But Friday night, with a different President in office, Couric crowed a one percent decline in the 2009 second quarter GDP -- the first time since tracking began in 1947 that the economy has contracted for four straight quarters -- means the “glimmer of hope just got a whole lot brighter” with “the latest evidence the recession is easing.” ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas saw “new optimism about an economic recovery” and declared of the new negative number: “That's actually good” since “economists had projected the number would be worse.”
George Stephanopoulos shared the White House's joy over “the best news the administration has had in weeks.” The gullible ex-Democratic operative maintained “they can point to these numbers today and say, look, there is real evidence right now that the stimulus package that we pushed for so hard is working. They cited economists who said it made a three percent difference in these numbers.”