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.”
Reporting on the Obama administration’s ‘Cash for Clunkers’ car buying program running out of money, CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes offered a mixed message: "‘Cash for Clunkers’ has been such a runaway success....The program is so popular...word spread it would be suspended...because of fears that sales would soon swallow up the $1 billion for rebates the government had set aside."
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "It’s a week old and incredibly popular. But is the government’s ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program coming to a screeching halt? We’ll see why it may run out of gas and why so many are angry." She later introduced Cordes’ report by explaining: "It appears that ‘Cash for Clunkers’ could be kaput. There’s been a lot of criticism that the week-old federal program is just too confusing. But the White House says it’s so popular that it’s already running out of money, so they’re reevaluating."
Subtitled: "Washington is spending $60 billion to create the careers of the future, but not a single green job yet exists. Obama's 'green czar' explains."
The Leftist publication deserves some plaudits for exploring this $60 billion gaping hole in the $787 billion "stimulus" package President Barack Obama signed into law in February. But there are many points in the article where they could have done better.
It would have been nice, for instance, if Newsweek had exhibited some of the scrutiny they show here in advance of the massive plan's passage. They begin with an interesting realization:
On Tuesday's Glenn Beck Program on FNC, host Beck picked up on P.J. Gladnick's recent NewsBusters posting which helped bring attention to President Obama's double standard in charging that Congress was "rushed" by the Bush administration into passing budgets and anti-terrorism measures with little time for debate -- in a 2004 interview with Randi Rhodes on the left-wing Air America -- even though as President he has pressed Congress to act quickly on a number of major spending proposals since taking office.
Beck also ran a clip of Congressman John Conyers as the Michigan Democrat scoffed at suggestions members of Congress should read and understand bills before voting for them. Conyers: "To get up and say, 'Read the bill.' What good is reading the bill if it's 1,000 pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?"
During the show's regular "Hot List" segment, Beck recounted: "The Web site NewsBusters.org posting a November 2004 interview with Air America's Randi Rhodes, where Senator-elect Obama complains about the Bush administration."
Then an audio clip of Obama from the 2004 interview ran:
During an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric on Tuesday, President Obama defended the administration’s handling of the economy: "nobody...anticipated that in the first three months, we would lose 700,000 jobs per month...the severity and the depth of the recession was something that, you know, really exceeded everybody's expectations."
However, on the February 6 Evening News, prior to the passage of the Obama stimulus package, correspondent Anthony Mason told Couric: "The size of the job losses last month surprised even most economists. And even if we begin to get a recovery later this year, many say the unemployment rate will continue to rise into next year, topping out somewhere north of 9 percent."
Obama made his claim after Couric asked about the current 9.5% unemployment rate: "Your administration projected that with the stimulus package, as you know, unemployment could be kept under 8%. Well, that was then, this is now." After Obama argued that the job loss "exceeded everybody’s expectations" Couric failed to point out the fact that she had reported on such expectations earlier in the year.
On Monday’s Hannity show on FNC, actor Jon Voight accused the press of "protecting" and "covering for" President Obama by not giving enough coverage to dissatisfaction with the President’s economic policies, including the anti-tax TEA party protests:
But the press, the press brought him in, and now they want to make sure that nobody topples the throne, it seems. So they don't report anything that will interfere with his policies. But when the news is biased, it can, you know, it can control the people in a dangerous way. We see what's going on in Venezuela, and we're shocked. We're shocked to see Hugo Chavez closing down the, the opposition media. We're shocked when we see what's happening to the truth in Iran. But this same thing is happening in our country right now. The Obama regime is controlling the press. They protect him, they cover for him, and they don't want the truth to come out that there is this dissatisfaction, that people are waking up, and it's being expressed in these TEA parties.
He also charged that Obama had been dishonest in promising to protect Israel, and that the President had a "cunning ability" to push his policies through Congress without proper debate:
Democrat strategist Bob Shrum on Sunday not only praised Reaganomics, but used it as an example as why Americans should be patient in allowing President Obama's stimulus plan to take effect.
During the panel discussion on Sunday's "Meet the Press," host David Gregory asked his guests, "Why shouldn't the Republicans, who certainly spent a long time spending a lot of government money and under whose watch the economy took the turn that it did, why shouldn't there be more patience from the Republican aisle?"
Shrum amazingly offered the following answer (readers are advised to prepare for an alternate reality):
Good Morning America's Jonathan Karl on Friday provided a questioning, skeptical analysis of how stimulus money is being spent on road signs promoting the legislation. At one point, the correspondent quipped, "But for now, the signs seem easier to create than jobs." However, former Clinton aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos provided White House spin on the total amount of stimulus money spent.
In a follow-up segment, GMA co-host Diane Sawyer pointed out that of the $787 billion allocated in February for the legislation, only ten percent has been spent. Providing White House talking points, Stephanopoulos offered a tortured explanation for how this wasn't so: "They [the Obama administration] argue, though, that more than ten percent has actually been put to work. They would argue that about 20 to 25 percent has been put to work, because money has been obligated that allows these projects to go forward." Continuing this charitable analysis, he added, "Even though the check isn't written until the roads are actually built."