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.
Are bitter conservatives "clinging" to spending cuts? That's the tone of New York Times political editor Richard Stevenson's front-page "Political Memo" Monday, "G.O.P. Clings to One Thing It Agrees On: Spending Cuts," which contained a whopping 13 "conservative" labels (and a couple of "liberals" as well).
Conservative governors are signing on to provisions of what they once derisively dismissed as Obamacare. Prominent Senate Republicans are taking positions on immigration that would have gotten the party’s presidential candidates hooted off the debate stage during last year’s primaries.
In an interview with left-wing MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie used dire language to describe the current budget sequester: "It was supposed to be something that forced both sides to the table, mutually assured destruction. Cuts that were so bad they would never go into effect. Here we are in the sequester era. How does this end?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Maddow responded by turning up the hype even further: "In Prohibition, the government came up with the brilliant idea that to stop people from drinking, they would put poison in industrial alcohol....what they did was poison a lot of people. This [sequester] is the same kind of thing." Guthrie seized on the comparison: "And part of the effect though is this poison, to borrow your metaphor, it's not a poison that kills you overnight. Apparently it's a slow, rolling poison."
As NewsBusters reported earlier, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough had quite a heated discussion about the budget, debt, and the economy on PBS's Charlie Rose Monday evening.
Near its conclusion, Scarborough actually scolded Krugman for pompously behaving like a sighing Al Gore (video follows with transcript and commentary):
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough had an at times heated discussion about budget deficits, debt, and the economy on PBS's Charlie Rose Monday evening.
At one point Krugman got so rattled by the facts that he actually said Scarborough quoting what he had said in the past was making an ad hominem attack against him (video follows with transcript and commentary):
According to the first paragraph of Alicia's Caldwell's report today at the Associated Press, aka the Adminstration's Press, Homeland Security Secretary Janey Napolitano told attendees at a Politico breakfast this morning (Politico's coverage is here) that, in Caldwell's words, "U.S. airports, including Los Angeles International and O'Hare International in Chicago, are already experiencing delays as a result of automatic federal spending cuts." Additionally, again in Caldwell's words, "she expects a cascading effect during the week, with wait times expected to double in worst cases."
Well, either someone forgot to tell airport spokesperson and the travel industry to fall in line, or said officials are refusing, according to follow-up stories at the Politico and the UK Telegraph. Notably, the AP had no such follow-up story at its national site as of 10 p.m. ET tonight, but did have a story by Pauline Jelinek ("HOW BUDGET CUTS COULD AFFECT YOU") published at the about the same time as the two follow-ups just noted dutifully echoing Napolitano's talking points. Excerpts from both follow-up stories are after the jump.
CNN's Dana Bash fact-checked President Obama's falsehood about the sequester on Friday, but the major networks didn't exactly follow CNN's lead in reporting the distortion that Capitol Hill janitors and police would receive a pay cut because of the sequester.
In his Friday press conference, Obama claimed, "They're going to have less pay, the [Capitol Hill] janitors, the security guards. They just got a pay cut." Shortly after that, CNN's Bash obtained from the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms that the workers would not receive a pay cut, just a limit on overtime pay. NBC ignored the distortion on its weekend newscasts, while CBS and ABC reported it one time each.
I have long contended that public policy issues are as complicated as they appear because the giants of Capitol Hill like it that way, particularly the giants of the left. Bills can be written more simply. Decisions can be phrased with a certain lucidity. Yet, if they were, the electorate would mull them over and, after a cup of coffee, make a decision on them. As things stand today, with talk of budget imbalance and of esoteric matters such as "sequestration," voters scratch their heads, blink their eyes and walk away. Who gives a hoot? It is time for my morning nap, perhaps, two naps.
This is another anti-democratic way that Washington politicians have bootlegged our legislative process. Make policy so confusing to normal people that they will take little or no interest in it. It is all a game reserved exclusively for the political class. Al Gore in his new book, prosaically titled "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change," bangs on about the power of lobbyists and giant corporations in shaping legislation — do you know anyone who sits on more corporate boards than Gore? Has he considered the unwieldy nature of the legislation in the first place? Debt piled atop debt that even Warren Buffett cannot conceptualize. Sequestration, indeed — why not segregation or constipation? It is a geek to me.
The perils and victims of the round of the mandatory federal spending cuts known as sequestration led the New York Times' weekend coverage, with the 2.4% cut in annual federal spending that went into effect starting Friday labeled "austerity" and ushered in with headlines warning that "Poor May Be Hit Particularly Hard." Also: those who still approve of Congress tend to be "Obama haters," according to a news story.
"The Obama administration couldn’t have made its cheerleaders at ABC, CBS, and NBC look any more foolish," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell noted earlier today in reaction to a new study by the Media Research Center's (MRC) Geoff Dickens showing that 66 percent of the broadcast network news coverage of the budget sequestration that took effect on Friday advanced Obama White House talking points but failed to include any rebuttals from skeptics.
"Thanks to the bogus sequestration panic pushed by the administration and the liberal media, the American people recognize that the networks are nothing more than an adjunct of the Obama White House press office," the MRC founder added in a March 4 statement. “Like squawking parrots, ABC, CBS, and NBC mindlessly repeated the administration’s phony, over-hyped doomsday talking points during the two weeks leading up to sequestration. That a full two thirds of their stories didn’t include a shred of skepticism is an abomination." Below are just some of the most outlandish claims made on the networks:
**UPDATE** Earlier version of blog incorrectly stated that Ron Fournier had deleted tweets in question when in fact they are still on his account.
It appears as though the days of civility and integrity in journalism are long gone. On March 1, National Journal’s Ron Fournier, formerly the Washington bureau chief at the Associated Press, took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with government sequestration, suggesting that President Obama:
Can handle Bin laden, not Boehner? He may be POTUS, but Obama incapable of “a Jedi mind meld.”
Fournier continued his violent rhetoric in a follow-up tweet, suggesting that, “Bin Laden didn’t compromise. Handled him pretty well.”