The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky has turned up the partisan hyperbole to 11. In a January 13 piece, the leftist writer claimed that, “the fight over unemployment benefits underscores the right’s extremism” with a picture of Tea Party Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) featured to illustrate his point.
The frequent MSNBC guest argued that because the GOP is demanding that for the first time in years any extension in unemployment benefits be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget that “the party has been hijacked by extremists.” [Pro-tip: Never play a drinking game involving liberal journalists and the term "hijacking." You'll die of alcohol poisoning.]
Following up on Friday's awful jobs report from the government (only 74,000 seasonally adjusted jobs added, with the unemployment rate dropping to 6.7 percent only because adults continued to leave the workforce), the Asssociated Press's Christopher Rugaber tried to search for excuses.
To its credit, the headline at Rugaber's report didn't blatantly dissemble like the one at Bloomberg, which, in revising the title of an underrated Stevie Wonder song from the 1970s ("Blame It on the Sun"), blamed it on the cold and snow: "Old Man Winter Put a Chill on U.S. Labor Market at End of 2013." But the AP reporter predictably failed to entertain the possibility that Obamacare's virtual chaos, plan cancellations, and impending 2014 premium hikes might have thrown a great deal of sand into the job market's gears, even though a virtual halt in healthcare hiring stuck out like a sore thumb. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
The Labor Department released absolutely horrendous employment numbers Friday that are going to be difficult for the Obama-loving media to positively spin.
Moments after the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that only 74,000 jobs had been created in December with the unemployment rate declining due to almost 500,000 people leaving the job market, Christine Romans on CNN's New Day called the report “a big miss,” “a real shocker,” “a big disappointment,” and concluded that the jobless rate “fell in part because people simply gave up” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Lee set about spinning the results of the latest Quinnipiac Poll, which shows President Obama sitting atop a 41 percent approval rating, up from a low of 38 percent in December, but still a net negative approval rating. Lee used the slight uptick in approval as a springboard to forecast that the president's economically liberal spending agenda could change his and his party's fortunes (emphasis mine):
There's little debate among academic economists about the effect of minimum wages. University of California, Irvine economist David Neumark has examined more than 100 major academic studies on the minimum wage. He reports that 85 percent of the studies "find a negative employment effect on low-skilled workers." A 1976 American Economic Association survey found that 90 percent of its members agreed that increasing the minimum wage raises unemployment among young and unskilled workers. A 1990 survey reported in the American Economic Review (1992) found that 80 percent of economists agreed with the statement that increases in the minimum wage cause unemployment among the youth and low-skilled. If you're searching for a consensus in a field of study, most of the time you can examine the field's introductory and intermediate college textbooks.
Economics textbooks that mention the minimum wage say that it increases unemployment for the least skilled worker. The only significant debate about the minimum wage is the magnitude of its effect. Some studies argue that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage will cause a 1 percent increase in unemployment, whereas others predict a higher increase.
Daily Beast political writer Patricia Murphy dutifully peddled Democratic spin on the economy and unemployment while singing the praises of Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller who led a breakaway contingent of fellow GOPers to invoke cloture on a Democratic bill to extend unemployment benefits without any offsetting spending cuts.
CNN's Chris Cuomo pounded Republicans on Tuesday's New Day for demanding offsetting spending cuts in exchange for extending jobless benefits.
"Are they holding these people hostage? I mean, shouldn't these be extended and then have a legitimate jobs policy discussion?" Cuomo asked in disbelief of Republicans holding out for a deal on jobless benefits. Cuomo is the brother of New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, and once again sounded like a Democratic strategist going after Republicans. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Fifty years after it was first waged by LBJ, the federal War on Poverty has worked, and not only that, it's been a "wild success," the Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky is insisting.
Great, that being the case, we can de-mobilize and drastically cut back spending on social welfare, right? Heaven forbid! No, Tomasky wants to double-down with efforts at tackling "income inequality." Of course, along the way he insists that things under Republican presidents -- but particularly Reagan -- were absolutely dreadful for the lowest-income earners in American society (emphasis mine):
In late October, continuing a four-year pattern of making such claims, MIT's Jonathan Gruber, who along with Ezekiel "Zeke the Bleak" Emanuel is considered one of the two "architects" of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, pointed to a study which claimed that "the Affordable Care Act is working even better than expected, producing more coverage for much less money." But, as Wingfield noted in his Friday column, Gruber sang a totally different tune when quoted in the Washington Post on Thursday.
It's hard to know what's more ridiculously entertaining when choosing between Jesse A. Myerson's "Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For," the illogical screed in Rolling Stone which would lead to the enslavement of those about whom he claims to be concerned, or Myerson's tweets as the opprobrium has poured in.
In his State of the Union address on Jan. 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared a "war on poverty." Today, with roughly the same number of people below the poverty level as in 1964 and with many addicted to government "benefits," robbing them of a work ethic, it is clear that the poor have mostly lost the war.
In 1964, the poverty rate was about 19 percent. Census data from 2010 indicates that 15.1 percent are in poverty within a much larger population.
Even as he hailed Bill de Blasio's "progressive revolution," The Daily Beast's Michael Daly sought to downplay fears that the newly-sworn-in mayor was a radical leftist intent on soaking the rich. Instead Daly practically painted a picture of the Democratic politician as a drum major leading the "march" to a more "equal" New York.
While noting de Blasio was a "leader speaking much the same language" as the now moribund Occupy Wall Street movement, Daly insisted the left-of-center David Dinkins acolyte "was only asking [wealthy New Yorkers] to pay 'a little more.'" Heck, de Blasio "suggested that the city’s very wealthiest would be paying only $973 more a year," no big whoop:
Drudge's headline linking to a Politico item by Carrie Budoff Brown and John Allen about the Obama administration's plans to aggressively identify and promote Obamacare successes in 2014 ("White House Plans to Step up Obamacare Propaganda in 2014") is far better than the tired one Politico itself used ("White House looks to spread good Obamacare news").
What Team Obama plans to pursue will be propaganda, because as it identifies and "spread(s) good news," it's going to have to ignore a far larger volume of bad news. An NBC investigative report (video at link; HT Political Outcast) two days ago about the situation at a Michigan car dealership makes that point about as well as it can be made (bolds are mine):
In an earlier post today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that reporters at Politico and CNNMoney.com seemed mystified at a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll showing that 68 percent of Americans believe the economy is in poor shape, and that over half believe it will still be that way a year from now.
One reason for their incredulity is that, perhaps deliberately, they haven't been paying attention to household income data compiled monthly by ex-Census Bureau workers at Sentier Research. Sentier's latest report covering November came out today. It shows that annualized inflation-adjusted median household income is still more than 7 percent below where it was when Barack Obama took office in Janaury 2009, and that it's gone nowhere in the 23 months since December 2011. At an index value of 92.7, November's figure is virtually the same as it was in December 2011 (92.8).
One thing the establishment press will not be celebrating this evening as we head into 2014 is the fact that they have been unable to convince the American people that the economy has been and will continue to be on the rebound.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released on Friday, which "oddly enough" (no, not really) is not being touted at ORC's related press release web page, shows that 68 percent of Americans believe the economy is in poor shape. Over half expect the economy to be in that condition a year from now. This came as somewhat of a surprise to Lucy McCalmont at the Politico and Gregory Wallace at CNNMoney.com.
In a December 27 blog post, New York Times columnist and incurable Keynesian economist Paul Krugman capitalized on the problems United Parcel Service and to a lesser extent Fedex had in delivering Christmas packages on time: "Can’t the private sector do anything right?"
While I recognize that there's sarcasm in his question, Krugman then went on to try to make HealthCare.gov's problems appear analogous: "[M]any pundits were quick to declare healthcare.gov’s problems evidence of the fundamental, irretrievable incompetence of government, and as an omen of Obamacare’s inevitable collapse. ... (But) none of these people are making similar claims about UPS or Amazon." Since the Nobel Economics laureate appears to be too dense to understand the differences between the two situations, Robert P. Murphy, "the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism," explained many of them in a Sunday post at the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada's web site (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Bloomberg Businessweek and others are trying to capitalize on the difficulties United Parcel Service and to a lesser extent Fedex had in delivering packages in time for Christmas to claim that the U.S. Postal Service is coming out of it smelling like a rose ("An Unlikely Star of the Holiday-Shipping Season: The U.S. Postal Service").
Not so fast, people. Let's be extremely generous and take it as a given that the Post Office didn't have any late arrivals, and that it deserves props for delivering 75,000 packages on Christmas Day. It's hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison, but based on the quoted number of packages UPS planned to deliver on Christmas Eve, the private company's package volume, particularly its air package volume, dwarfs that of the Post Office, and would overwhelm it if it tried to pull off what UPS routinely does:
On Friday's PoliticsNation on MSNBC, host Al Sharpton asserted that Republicans "don't care" about the unemployed whose unemployment benefits are expiring and went on to accuse Republicans of having a "heartless ideology that says if you're out of work, you're out of luck."
The Declaration of Independence? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Meh. That's so, like, 18th century. No, Ed Schultz has come out with a new declaration of what he calls the Four Pillars of American Life: health care, jobs, education and equality.
Schultz promulgated his manifesto on the year-in-review episode of his MSNBC show today. View the video after the jump.
Concerning the Christmas shopping season, the Associated Press's Anne D'Innocenzio and CNBC's Krystina Gustafson agree: It has stunk.
D'Innocenzio noted that "sales at stores have fallen for the third consecutive week as Americans continue to hold back on spending during what is traditionally the busiest buying period of the year." Gustafson, apparently looking over the same ShopperTrak data as D'Innocenzio, added that "store traffic in the final week before Christmas posted the third straight week of double-digit declines." Neither noted that combination of much lower traffic and relatively slight sales declines appears to indicate that the well-off are splurging, while many families of average means are AWOL. Though it's hard to see how, the keepers of Christmas data at ShopperTrak the National Retail Federation and the International Council of Shopping Centers still believe they will end up in meaningfully positive territory when all is said and done.
In an October 3 column at USA Today, economics correspondent Tim Mullaney pronounced "HealthCare.gov a winner despite glitches."
Mullaney from all appearances has never retracted any of what he wrote that fateful day. He also defended himself vigorously in correspondence with yours truly during the week or so after my NewsBusters post critical of his writeup appeared. Accordingly, in light of what has really happened with HealthCare.gov, it seems more than appropriate to republish several paragraphs from his October review for their value as pure comedy gold.
Did you know that the left has been almost completely starved for funding all these years? Why, there's almost nobody out there providing seed money for "community organizers," activists, and "advocacy groups" to offset the evil impact of the Koch brothers.
Continuing an establishment press meme going back at least to April, as NewsBusters' Tim Graham noted at the time, that's the impression one would get from reading Evan Halper's coverage of Tom Steyer, the left's most recent addition to what is really a decades-long line of deep-pocketed providers of the mother's milk of politics — and the guy sure knows how to pick 'em when it comes to identifying a pet cause (HT to Gary Hall; bolds are mine):
Kelsey Snell "is a tax reporter at POLITICO Pro." Her output in a column entitled "Indiana lures 'Illinoyed' biz with tax breaks" makes one wonder how she arrived at her current position.
Snell's piece is riddled with striking omissions and lame progressive talking points. But the most jaw-dropping element in her report is her clear inability to detect erroneous numbers which she and her employer should know make no sense.
After Martin Bashir lost his MSNBC job for making a vile anatomical suggestion, you might think that others at the "Lean Forward" network would be circumspect about engaging in comparable crudeness.
But that didn't stop John Heilemann on today's Morning Joe. Whereas Bashir's remark focused on the beginning of the alimentary canal, Heilemann's went to its other extremity. Asked how he'd deal with Senator Rand Paul's theory that extending unemployment benefits does the unemployed a disservice, Heilmann said "I'd tell Rand Paul to stick that where it belongs." View the video after the jump.
Today's Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC, with Joy Reid guest-hosting, displayed a "Pope" poster of Pope Francis in the style of Shepard Fairey's "Hope" poster of Barack Obama made famous in 2008.
The show featured a long segment analyzing the Pope's critique of capitalism. What's the message of the poster and of MSNBC's decision to display it? That Pope Francis and Barack Obama share a critique of capitalism? That Barack Obama is himself a Pope-like figure? Something else? View the video after the jump.
On Thursday's All In show, MSNBC's Chris Hayes repeatedly used words like "screwing over" to describe Republican policies toward the poor, and claimed that Tea Partiers in Congress believe in "poverty as punishment" as he fretted over a delay in the extension of unemployment benefits and then hyped Georgia Republican Rep. Jack Kingston's suggestion that school children do chores in exchange for subsidized lunches.
After characterizing recent statements by congressional Republicans as being like immaturely declaring, "Yeah, and your mother," the MSNBC host a bit later whined:
As would be expected, Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger Wednesday treated Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's announcement that the nation's central bank will reduce the amount of money it creates out of thin air from $1.02 trillion per year to $900 billion, i.e., from $85 a month to $75 billion, as "its strongest signal of confidence in the U.S. economy since the Great Recession." As will be shown, it's a sign of continued serious weakness.
The pretense inherent in all of this is comparable to teaching a child how to ride a bike, raising the training wheels by one-eighth of an inch, and pronouncing him or her ready to roll. What should be troubling is that the tiny reduction means that the Fed will be financing a much higher percentage of next year's projected deficit and increase in the national debt than it has in previous years. That would seem to indicate that the nation is running out of other buyers who might be interested in purchasing Treasury securities, and that Bernanke's own words in July, namely that "the economy would tank" if he wasn't so obviously and artificially propping it up, are truer than ever.
On the Wednesday, December 18, All In with Chris Hayes show on MSNBC, host Chris Hayes fretted that uninsured Americans are not a "potent constituency" during a discussion of the debate over extending unemployment benefits.
He did not mention a CBS News/New York Timespoll which ironically was released earlier in the day finding that ObamaCare is as unpopular among uninsured Americans as with the general population.
Speaking with MSNBC analyst Ezra Klein, Hayes posed:
Bringing on yet another appearance of the dreaded "U-word" — "unexpectedly" (via Bloomberg) — the Labor Department reported today that initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 379,000. That's a nine-month high, and an increase from last week's also unexpected 369,000. This week's and last week's results were far above the 332,000 and 320,000, respectively, analysts had predicted.
The Department of Labor's excuse for the past two dismal weeks has been "holiday volatility." Though they mostly had a point last week, this week they don't. Last week was the week after Thanksgiving, while that holiday took place six days earlier in 2012. But the week ended December 14, 2013 and the comparable week from last year (12/15/12) are both sufficiently removed from Thanksgiving's influence on the numbers that the holiday has no meaningful impact. The business press is pretending that DOL is right.