Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday linked the accidental deaths of seven U.S. Marines to sequester spending cuts. All three networks have, thus far, skipped the story. After highlighting the details of the botched training event in Hawthorne, Nevada, the Democrat manipulated the tragedy: "But one of the things in sequester is we cut back in training and maintenance."
He added, "This sequester should go away...These men and women, our Marines were training there in Hawthorne. And with this sequester, it's going to cut back this stuff." These comments came on the floor of the U.S. Senate, yet ABC's World News and Good Morning America, NBC's Nightly News and Today, the CBS Evening News and the CBS This Morning all ignored Reid's remarks (though they discussed the accident itself). ABCNews.com covered the story, but acquitted Reid of bad motives: "Harry Reid Commemorates Dead Marines, Calls for End to Sequester."
Much of the press is describing the EU's demand that Cyprus seize a portion of bank account holders' deposits, a demand rejected yesterday by the island nation's legislature, as a "tax."
I think it's reasonable to suggest that this characterization is designed to minimize the frightening authoritarianism the EU has just attempted. In a bit of a pleasant surprise, one organization openly calling the move an attempt at "seizure" is the Associated Press.
The scare tactics that Democrats from President Obama on down have employed to wring political benefit out of the sequester have apparently hit a despicable new low. In comments made about the deaths overnight of seven U.S. Marines in a training incident in Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Dem from Nevada, reportedly suggested that we may see more such incidents because the sequester cuts put Marines at risk.
NBC military correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, appearing on Andrea Mitchell's MSNBC show this afternoon, reported that the Marines have strongly rejected Reid's claim, and that one Marine official accused Reid of "pure political posturing on the backs of these dead Marines." View the video after the jump.
On Tuesday's NBC Today, news reader Natalie Morales warned viewers: "With a potential government shutdown looming later on this month, the White House may have to cancel its annual Easter Egg Roll." In the report that followed, White House correspondent Kristen Welker added that the "event might be in jeopardy....due to the ongoing budget battles here in Washington." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
While Welker simply repeated administration talking points without skepticism, she completely ignored the fact that just days ago, during a Fox News interview on March 15, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney testily told anchor Jenna Lee that while tours of the executive mansion had been cancelled, the Easter Egg Roll was safe: "Well actually, Jenna, again, if you did a little reporting...it's paid for by the sale of those eggs that come out, as well as from donations on the outside, so it's a totally different budget. These are apples and oranges."
At the Washington Post's Post Politics blog on Monday, Juliet Eilperin revealed that the White House has notified participants invited to the April 1 Easter Egg Roll that the event "is subject to cancellation due to funding uncertainty surrounding the Executive Office of the President and other federal agencies."
Eilperin only considered the White House's latest obvious example of "no petty and partisan gesture left behind" a partisan matter when a Republican who hasn't held political office for 15 years objected (bolds are mine):
"If ever the mainstream media reaches a point where they recognize that if we destroy this nation and destroy the economy, they, too, will be destroyed, I think at that point they will start asking the tough questions and helping to move the population in the right direction."
So predicted Dr. Benjamin Carson on Fox News's Hannity Monday (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Betraying his impatience with the Republican Party's insistence that President Obama cut spending, New York Times political reporter Jonathan Weisman sounded shocked that the GOP wasn't simply surrendering its principles in the wake of Obama's four–point victory last November, in Monday's "Republicans Determined To Press On With Air, If Not Vote, of Confidence." (Nice flattering photo of Paul Ryan, by the way.)
A year ago this month, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin stood on the floor of the House and declared that the ideals of small government, privatized health care and rigorous spending discipline captured in the budget plan about to pass the House would and should be central to the 2012 election campaign.
A true "watchdog press would be all over" President Obama's "moving the goalposts" on the federal budget, NewsBusters senior editor Rich Noyes told Fox Business Network's Stuart Varney on Monday's Varney & Co.
Instead, the media are falling down on the job, failing to note how the president has broken promise after promise on federal spending, both from his 2008 campaign and subsequently as president:
There's a reason why Media Research Center sister site CNS News had to put out a story about how much the government has spent so far this year -- $1.505 tillion -- after Wednesday's release of the February Monthly Treasury Statement: Two of the three major wire services failed to report that obviously important number, and the third saved it for their writeup's final sentence.
What follows are excerpts from the respective Wednesday reports at Bloomberg, Reuters and the Associated Press.
The official Monthly Treasury Statement for February came out Wednesday showing a deficit for the month of $204 billion, basically the same as the Congressional Budget Office predicted several days earlier. The reported deficit through five months of the fiscal year is $494 billion, down from $580 billion a year earlier.
That February result was an "improvement" of $28 billion over the $232 billion deficit seen in February 2012. Unfortunately, the two main reasons for the difference demonstrate that the economy really isn't any better than it was a year ago. $20 billion of the difference occurred because the IRS was slower in sending out tax refunds than it was in 2012 because of the late passage of tax-related fiscal cliff measures in early January. The rest of the improvement can be traced to the repeal of the 2-point payroll tax cut which had been in place during calendar 2011 and 2012. Since February 2013 outlays were almost $9 billion lower than February 2012, one could argue that the economy actually did a worse job of generating taxes for the government than it did a year ago. Nevertheless, as would be expected, Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, cited "an improving economy":
Tavis Smiley invited ultra-liberal Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on his show Monday night for a friendly chat about the American economy. Predictably, Krugman used the appearance as an opportunity to bash Republicans, and on a taxpayer-subsidized television program no less.
Krugman and Smiley both complained that the American people have not yet become “sufficiently outraged” over the budget cuts brought by sequestration. Smiley demanded to know why the outrage has not appeared and when it will come. Don’t worry, Krugman reassured him, pain from the sequester will take time to kick in. The outrage will come once people start losing essential government services. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Lowrey, who on March 2 called the hard-to-detect budget cuts of sequestration "painful and stupid," gave the game away in her lead sentence, signaling that she doesn't really think that enormous debt is much of a crisis:
In an interview with former Bill Clinton adviser George Stephanopoulos at ABC (transcript here), President Barack Obama claimed that “We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt." Despite his claim, no one can know that for sure, but it's at least consistent with what he said during the 2012 presidential campaign ("we don't have to worry about it short term").
Obama's elaboration on the debt topic, however, was not consistent: "In fact, for the next ten years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place." Ten years is long-term by any reasonable definition. His statement directoly contradicts what he said In October 2012: "... it is a problem long term and even medium term." Of course, ABC's subsequent coverage of that interview by Jonathan Karl didn't note the President's change of tune, and went further to assist Obama by presenting a misleading visual and by misstating the relative size of this year's officially projected deficit to that seen in fiscal 2009.
Back in February, I noted the Washington Post’s egregious omission of Senate Democrats as a category in a poll gauging the blame game if sequestration went into effect. Sequestration was an initiative spearheaded by the Obama White House, which is part of the story that has many on the left ripping liberal journalism icon Bob Woodward for reporting. Well, what do you know, in a new poll, the Post once again decided to leave the Democratic-run Senate off the hook, failing to ask respondents what they think about Senate Dems' handling of economic policy.
This is incredibly odd as it’s been way over 1,000 days since the Senate has presented, much less acted on a budget, something the liberal media would have ceaselessly hammered Republicans for had they been in control of the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress and done the same.
In Monday's New York Times, in a report which appeared online late Sunday, reporters Richard W. Stevenson and John Harwood devoted considerable space to the idea that President Obama's latest "outreach" effort is primarily an attempt to "salvage a big deficit-reduction deal," and not a political ploy to show voters in the 2014 congressional elections that he's really interested in achieving a compromise when no genuine desire exists.
Steven Hayes at the Weekly Standard believes it's the latter ("For Obama, It's All About 2014"), as should anyone, probably including the reporters just cited, who is on the mailing list of Obama's permanent campaign known as Organizing For Action. On Thursday, three days before the Times reporters tried to convince America that Obama is in deal-making mode, OFA, which self-evidently tailors its message to the White House's true desire went into over-the-top scaremongering mode in an email from proven prevaricator Stephanie Cutter (bolds are mine):
While NBC and CBS both highlighted a quote from an anonymous senior White House official labeling President Obama's recent budget meetings with members of Congress "a joke," ABC managed to leave the controversial remark out of its coverage of the budget negotiations, with Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos even failing to ask the President about it in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
In a National Journal article posted Tuesday morning, Ron Fournier recounted: "'This is a joke. We're wasting the president's time and ours,' complained a senior White House official who was promised anonymity so he could speak frankly. 'I hope you all (in the media) are happy because we're doing it for you.'"
Five days ago, this NewsBuster wrote that Harold Ford, Jr. "seems more interested in cultivating friends and avoiding offense than in saying anything interesting." On Morning Joe that day, Ford had managed to praise a trio of pols, even breaking out the old "my dear friend" line to describe one of them. When Ford employed the same shtick on today's show, Joe Scarborough eventually had enough, sarcastically asking Ford whether there's anyone he doesn't "like and respect."
This morning, Ford variously praised "the great Tip O'Neill," said he has "great respect" for Patty Murray, and even professed "I like Paul [Ryan] too." When Scarborough hit him with his pointed question, Ford responded by saying that he was a Christian who sees the good in all. That led to more ribbing from Scarborough and Willie Geist, who recalled a campaign ad from Harold's Tennessee days in which he posed in a church pew. View the video after the jump.
There are three major factors that stand in the way of entitlement reform and the other responsible budgetary measures that must be taken to avert an eventual national financial catastrophe, and they have a common source.
The first is that too many American people remain, amazingly, in the fog about the scope of the problem. The second is that a certain political ideology refuses to substitute a designated driver for the intoxicated entitlement state, which is driving the American bankruptcy bus. The third is that the leader of this noxious ideology has a further conflict of interest precluding a solution to the crisis, which is that he is hellbent on inflicting harm on the only political party pushing for reform and on successful entrepreneurs, who are critical to economic growth — a key component of any reform measure.
Appelbaum said in an August 2011 Times podcast that "the real problem is that there's this tremendous political pressure to get smaller, and everything we know about economics tells us that they should be doing the opposite, they should be getting bigger right now....it's as cheap as it's ever been to borrow money, invest it in infrastructure, invest it in things that will pay off in the long run, and help out the economy." On Saturday he and Schwartz (who also likes government stimulus) argued:
While you were watching Rand Paul's historic filibuster and the debate surrounding budget sequestration, an economic theory battle was waging between two of the nation's foremost liberal economists Paul Krugman and Jeffrey Sachs.
In his most recent salvo published at the Huffington Post Saturday, Sachs spoke heresy to Obama-lovers across the fruited plain including Krugman claiming that following the 2008 financial crisis, "It was the Fed, not the fiscal stimulus, which prevented a fall into depression."
Charles Krauthammer credited President Obama’s charm offensive toward Republicans to his losing the news media which couldn’t any longer abide his ridiculous sequester “cut” exaggerations.
“Obama’s strongest constituency, which is not the left, it’s the mainstream media, could no longer cover for him without being entirely embarrassed,” Krauthammer observed Friday night on FNC, “It had to expose the one exaggeration after another on the sequester.”
One has to hope that Mr. Jack Crawford of Silver Spring, Md., is pulling some sort of prank on the Washington Post -- as Rush Limbaugh would say demonstrating absurdity by being absurd -- because if he's serious, his 42-word March 9 letter-to-the-editor is the most overwrought missive I've ever read in a serious major newspaper.
Published along with two other letters about the Post's "Hyping the sequester's drama," in the Saturday paper's "Free for All" mail bag feature, Crawford expressed his "hope" that the Post "will publish the pictures of all the people who lose their jobs due to the sequester" much like the paper "did with the soldiers who died in Iraq." "Martyrs should be held up for public approval of their honor," he concluded. [see screen capture below]
With all the talk of sequstration and its supposed "austerity on autopilot" (as characterized at Voice of America -- your tax dollars at work against you), it's useful to look at what has really been happening with federal spending over the past six years, something the establishment press is very reluctant to do.
On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office released its February Monthly Budget Review ahead of the Treasury Department's official report which will arrive early next week. It estimates that the federal government ran a one-month deficit of $205 billion. It also shows that year-to-date spending through five months of the government's fiscal year is up by 2.7 percent, and is up even after adjustment for timing quirks:
The Broadway musical "Annie" is enjoying another revival on Broadway. The show opened during the Carter administration when America was in need of some optimism. "The sun'll come out tomorrow," sang Annie, and with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, for a while, it did.
Now we're back in "Hooverville," the name given to shanty towns that popped up during the Great Depression. It isn't that bad yet, though the Obama administration is forecasting gloom and doom if Republicans don't cave on another tax increase.
The liberal media should have reported President Obama's Chicken Little sky-is-falling claims about the sequester, but "with clear skepticism" instead of mindlessly parroting them, NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told Fox News's Sean Hannity on the March 7 edition of his eponymous program. "They should have gone to the American people and in effect said, this man is lying," but instead, "they did the exact opposite. They waved the pom-poms for him," the Media Research Center (MRC) founder argued.
Even worse, Hannity added, after the sequester ended up being a nothing-burger, the media whined about it, wringing their hands that the public are not concerned. "Let's understand what they mean when they say it's sad.... they're sad that the America people aren't believing the media," Bozell argued, adding the the "big losers" in the whole sequester ordeal are the liberal media, because "people are seeing right through it." [watch the full "Media Mash" segment here]
In the fortnight leading up to the sequester, the broadcast networks ABC, CBS, and NBC wrung their hands about "all the catastrophes that would happen if these cuts went through," NewsBusters senior editor Rich Noyes noted on the March 7 edition of Fox Business Network's Varney & Co. Since, then, however, "they've spent no time asking how is the White House going to decide where these cuts are, how is the administration going to parcel out these cuts?"
In short, "[t]hey're not doing their watchdog function at all," the Media Research Center's research director told FBN's Stuart Varney. What's more, for the most part, the same networks lack any skepticism about how the administration might be targeting their cuts in such as way as to deliberately inflict pain, when it's completely in the power of the Obama White House to structure cutbacks in a way that minimizes its impact on the taxpaying American (watch the full segment below the page break):
Barack Obama’s strategy going into the scheduled sequestration was to hit the panic button, over and over again, putting the very Obama-friendly media into a heavy rotation of disaster metaphors.
“Hours, now, until massive government cuts go into effect that could impact every American. Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free,” warned ABC morning anchor Josh Elliott. On screen were the words “BUDGET ARMAGEDDON.”
Liberal PBS host Tavis Smiley recently became the latest media member to refer to the $85 billion sequester as “austerity.” On his self-titled show Tuesday night, the taxpayer-subsidized Smiley got all frowny while discussing the American economy with former FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair:
"Since you raised the issue, let me ask how it is, in your mind at least, the notion of austerity, and whatever people in Washington don’t want to call it, that’s exactly what this is. Sequestration’s a big, fancy word. This is austerity masking as a conversation about deficit reduction as far as I’m concerned." [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
President Obama's sequester-related press briefing on March 1 contained the usual fibs. Examples include but are certainly not limited to the following: "We've already cut $2.5 trillion in our deficit," when the entire amount involved is something which might happen in the future; his claim that his State of the Union laundry list "is the agenda that the American people voted for," when many of the items involved were never mentioned during the 2012 campaign; and that the sequester is "happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made," despite the fact that his advisers with his personal approval originated the idea in 2011 and the reality that he was under no compulsion when he signed the bill setting it in place last week.
Since then, while the establishment press has largely ignored it, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler has twice honed in on a relatively small but clearly refutable statement Obama uttered that day: "Starting tomorrow, everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol ... they're going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they've got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real." No it's not.