On Thursday's CBS Evening News and Friday's Early Show, CBS glossed over President Obama's aim to break a campaign promise with a proposal to raise taxes on people who make less than $250,000 a year. Both Chip Reid and Bill Plante noted that "the White House is also insisting on...a limit on deductions for people...making more than $200,000 a year," but didn't reference the Democrat's 2008 tax pledge.
Near the end of his report, which aired 44 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour, Reid highlighted the Obama administration's push for tax hikes:
With a month to go before the next supposedly "drop dead date" regarding the nation's debt ceiling, liberal media members are out in force with hysterical claims about the world ending if Congress isn't free to spend more money it doesn't have.
Ever the faithful shill, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman did his part Friday cautioning that any spending cuts at this time "would destroy hundreds of thousands and quite possibly millions of jobs":
NBC's Today and CBS's Early Show on Thursday turned to Obama advisor David Plouffe on Thursday to offer his spin on the President's 67-minute presser on Wednesday, instead of interviewing Republicans. Both shows failed to press their guest about Obama's part in raising the nation's debt. NBC's Matt Lauer did toss some hardball questions at Plouffe on the President's "ownership" of the economy.
During her interview of the White House political advisor, which aired eight minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour, Jarvis raised how, in the midst of his anti-Republican press conference, the President compared his congressional opponents negatively to his own kids in her second question. Plouffe replied by foisting all of the blame for the debt on the GOP in his answer:
At the top of Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry proclaimed: "President Obama calls out Congress to strike a deficit reduction deal during a feisty news conference." Moments later, fellow co-host Matt Lauer added that the President "gave Congress a pretty good tongue lashing on Wednesday."
Curry further described how Obama "rebuked Congress for taking recesses instead of tackling legislation to try to help turn around the economy." In a later report on the press conference, White House correspondent Chuck Todd announced: "On issues ranging from taxes, the debt ceiling, even Libya, President Obama issued a blistering critique of Republicans in Congress. And essentially in blunt terms said it's time to step up and stop complaining."
Jon Stewart Wednesday finally stopped responding to the aftermath of his performance on "Fox News Sunday" and tried to make amends with a somewhat bipartisan segment bashing the President for his budget solutions as well as both parties for not getting anything done.
Toward the end of the opening "Daily Show" sketch, after a video clip of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying, "My Republican friends seem to be living in a fantasy world," Stewart smartly quipped, "If they were living in a fantasy world, would you still exist?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
“The problem is this issue with the House Republicans,” NBC’s Chuck Todd declared Wednesday night in naming the culprit blocking help to Americans whom anchor Brian Williams asserted “are hurting every day and hoping for a result to make their lives better.”
In a story on President Barack Obama’s press conference, Todd maintained Obama and the Senate could come together, but he blamed the conservatives for preventing a debt ceiling deal, fretting over “that new conservative, the Tea Party caucus” which rejects “anything that even remotely looks like a tax hike on anybody.”
Apparently, a pledge to reduce the deficit and cap spending long-term and vote for a strict balanced budget amendment is an extreme measure. CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, reporting on the conservative "Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge," quipped that "it's not exactly cut, cap, and balance. It may be more body-slam and pile-driver."
The pledge, sponsored by numerous grassroots conservative groups, entails signers promising to oppose an increase on the debt limits unless three conditions are met. The conditions are that the spending cuts must reduce the deficit "next year and thereafter," caps on spending must be instituted to bring about a balanced budget, and Congress must pass a balanced budget amendment.
On Wednesday's NBC Today, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell declared that Michele Bachmann "faces new candidate scrutiny, including financial records for a family business" and proceeded to hype a non-controversy of a mental health clinic run by Michele Bachmann's husband accepting Medicaid reimbursements for treating low-income patients.
O'Donnell implied such reimbursements conflicted with the Minnesota Congresswoman calling "for less government spending and opposes an expansion of Medicaid." Appearing on the broadcast minutes later, left-wing MSNBC host Rachel Maddow cited O'Donnell's report and proclaimed:"Michele Bachmann is trying to make this case that she's a purist Tea Party candidate despite the fact that she has this hypocrisy problem with having benefitted herself from so much government spending."
The United States is in debt up to its eyeballs - or more realistically the Statue of Liberty's eyeballs. On May 16, America hit the debt ceiling. which is slightly less than $14.3 trillion. That works out to about $46,000 for every man, woman and child in the nation.
Despite those staggering numbers, the broadcast networks have relegated their coverage primarily to the politics involved, rather than the economics. Reporters have complained about the "partisan sniping" over spending cuts or tax hikes, but have barely included any economists in their coverage.
CNNMoney.com described the debt ceiling as "a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow." The Obama administration wanted a "clean" (read unconditional) vote on raising the debt limit and got its wish on May 31, when the House voted down such a debt limit increase with a large bipartisan majority (318 nays, 97 yeas).
Chris Matthews Tuesday once again showed that his tenuous grasp of reality is getting dangerously weak.
During the final segment of "Hardball," the host unequivocally blamed the 2007 financial crisis and resulting recession on George W. Bush just moments before he said, "Okay, Obama hasn't been able to get us out of it yet, but...there’s no sense blaming one Party or the other" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Something astonishing happened in New Jersey last week. A majority Democratic legislature and a Republican governor agreed on a measure that will cut benefits for the state's 750,000 employees and retirees.
Like Wisconsin and other states that are being forced to deal with large budget deficits caused mostly by sweetheart deals struck in more prosperous times between politicians who need votes and labor unions who deliver them, New Jersey couldn't afford to go on like this.
I'll make you a deal: I'll quit accusing Democrats of obstructing spending and entitlement reform when they quit obstructing spending and entitlement reform.
Now we even have the nonpartisan, sterile, unflappable Congressional Budget Office virtually predicting a "fiscal crisis," yet the Democratic Senate hasn't passed a budget for 785 days. There ought to be a law.
Susan Haigh's report Friday evening on the current status of budget negotiations between Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and the state's public-sector unions contains two glaring errors which mar the entire enterprise.
Haigh conveniently withheld the fact that the Nutmeg State's legislature has already approved $2.6 billion in new taxes over two years until her report's final paragraph, while giving voice in a much earlier paragraph to an absurd union demand that "big businesses and wealthy taxpayers would be asked to pay more if they agreed to givebacks." Uh, the taxes have already happened, guys. She also dramatically understated the objections of state residents to the over 75(!) new taxes which have been imposed.
Here are excerpts from Haigh's hijinks (bolds are mine):
On Sunday’s This Week, ABC’s Christiane Amanpour repeatedly hit Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with the White House’s plea for “revenue raising” measures, often the new euphemism for tax hikes, but when she talked to Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn, the Assistant Minority Leader in the House, she failed to press him about agreeing to GOP spending cut proposals and instead only asked him about prospects for a deal.
Amanpour began with how reasonable President Obama and Democrats, who “need revenue,” are acting: “Democrats are saying they’re not putting, for the moment, tax hikes on the table, but they need revenue, they’re talking about closing loopholes, subsidies for wealthy corporations. Is that out of the question for you, or are you willing to entertain that?”
I can't say that I'm up on what every state is doing, but it's hard not to notice contrasts between two trios of states singing decidedly different tunes:
Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey, three states with recently elected conservative Republican governors, have either put their budgets to bed, or are on the verge of doing so, by cutting costs and not raising taxes.
Connecticut, Minnesota, and California, three states with recently elected liberal governors who are Democrats, are on the verge of a shutdown, serious layoffs, or issuing IOUs. All three governors have enacted or want tax increases.
In an exclusive interview with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer played a clip of a woman attacking the Republican as hypocritical for sending his children to private school while cutting funding for public schools. Lauer agreed with her premise: "I thought it was a fair question."
Lauer sympathized with the woman and argued: "...what she was asking you was – she clearly sends her kids to public schools and she's saying, 'Governor, I understand you send your kids to private schools, but is it possible, though, then you don't understand how these cuts are going to affect families,' like her's on a daily basis. Why isn't it a fair question?"
It took well over a year, but New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has gotten his way.
Covering the story for the New York Times, Richard Perez-Pena seemed to alternate between shock and "Awww." His biggest journalistic distortion was understating the degree to which Christie needed -- and got -- Democratic Party help to pass legislation which, in Pena's words, "will sharply increase what state and local workers must contribute for their health insurance and pensions, suspend cost-of-living increases to retirees pension checks, raise retirement ages and curb the unions’ contract bargaining rights."
The shock and "Awww" at the Times extends to the difference between the item's browser window title ("N.J. Legislature Moves to Cut Benefits for Public Workers") and the article title, which readers will see after the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
The New York Times may flinch at the thought of cutting Medicare or unemployment benefits to cut deficits, but reporters have quickly warmed to the idea of a speedy withdrawal from Afghanistan in the name of cost-cutting.
Lawrence O'Donnell on Tuesday accused Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) of being a socialist.
"The Last Word" host, who has admitted on national television to himself being a socialist, did so by cherry-picking from an article published at the perilously liberal website "The Huffington Post" (video follows with commentary and full transcript at end of post):
Previously this year, Times reporters had questioned “deepest and most far-reaching” cuts in unemployment benefits by Michigan and Florida, although the supposedly drastic cuts reduced total (state plus federal) unemployment benefits to the jobless by a mere six weeks out of up to 99.
Rampell found a sympathetic case whom she sketched as being in a tragic, “for want of a nail” situation, and seemed to think the decision a no-brainer for Arizona because, after all, the federal government was paying for it:
On NBC's Sunday Meet the Press, host David Gregory took on an alarmist tone as he worried that any significant attempts to address the nation's enormous debt could lead to violence: "Look at the images that came out of Greece this week as you've got...big cuts in public spending. And this is the result, rioting in the streets....Could we have that kind of reaction here?"
Gregory posed that question to Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham early in the program, further fretting: "Are we headed in this direction with the kind of actions we're talking about in terms of cutting public spending?...Is there a risk...that these draconian cuts in spending that so many Americans think are necessary may actually halt what we're still...seeing as a very fragile, very weak economic recovery?"
Update, June 20, 12:30 p.m.: Revised to reflect another AP math error not caught the first time around.
Update 2, June 20, 3:20 p.m.: The AP has issued a correction indicating that lost sales taxes are $23 billion and teachers' salaries which could be paid are 460,000. The contradiction explained below about California's claim that it is failing to collect only $200 million (less than 1% of the total, in a state with 12% of the nation's population) is unexplained. The post's text has been revised to reflect AP's correction. AP has NOT corrected its original story here or here.
What is it with Associated Press reporters and basic math?
Earlier this evening, I noted how the wire service's Scott Bauer failed to correctly state the nature of the pension costs many of Wisconsin's unionized workers will have to pay; he said they would have to pay "5.8% of their pension costs," when it's really "5.8% of the gross pay into the state's retirement fund.
Yesterday, the AP's Chris Tomlinson, in reporting on states' desperate attempt to force online vendors to collect sales tax on their behalf, contributed a couple more math and conceptual errors of his own:
Gosh, I would have thought that someone in Wisconsin's or America's labor movement would have caught Scott Bauer's clear June 15 understatement of the net pay hit many unionized public sector workers in the Badger State will be taking as a result of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, commonly known as the "Budget Repair Bill," once the law's provisions become effective on July 1. That error is in the following sentence from Bauer's report ("New lawsuit filed against Wisconsin union law"):
The law also requires workers to pay 12 percent of their health insurance costs and 5.8 percent of their pension costs, which amount to an 8 percent pay cut on average.
The AP reporter apparently spent time which should have gone towards getting the facts right to ensuring, as he did in a June 14 story (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), that the law was described as "polarizing" as often as possible. Bauer's frequent use of the P-word also seemingly distracted union supporters who read or heard portions of Bauer's report from noticing the error I will explain shortly.
Newsweek's Evan Thomas on Friday tried to float the typical media meme that neither Party is doing anything to solve our nation's budget crisis.
Unfortunately for him, fellow "Inside Washington" panelist Charles Krauthammer accurately noted that the Republicans have offered a proposal to cut $6.6 trillion in the next ten years, "but the Democrats have done nothing except to demagogue the plan and to destroy it" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As has been the case virtually from the beginning, the Associated Press's Scott Bauer has been clearly unhappy with 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, commonly known even to the Wisconsin Supreme Court as the "Budget Repair Bill." Today, the court ruled that the law as enacted by the Badger State's legislature and signed by Governor Scott Walker can go into effect on July 1.
Looking back at what's available of Bauer's body of work on the matter during the past four months, his consistent mischaracterization of the bill's contents, saying that it would "eliminate collective bargaining" when it doesn't (shown here and here), is truly striking. What's even more striking (pun intended) is how he and his employer described the law in the report's headline and first sentence in at least one early version this evening:
CBS hounded four Republicans from the left during a town hall on the economy which aired on Tuesday's Early Show. Bob Schieffer, Erica Hill, and Rebecca Jarvis pressed Reps. Paul Ryan and Allen West, Senator Tom Coburn, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to consider tax hikes to deal with the deficit. Schieffer also specifically accused the three members of Congress of "doing nothing" to fix the economy.
The two online questions which Jarvis took from viewers touted Democratic talking points about deficits under former President George W. Bush and how cutting the federal budget would lead to an increase in the unemployment rate, due to the laying off of federal employees. She also vigorously pursued both Rep. Ryan and Rep. West. about the issue of jobs. In the first instance, the CBS business correspondent used an earlier answer from Haley, which emphasized the issue, to actually accuse the greater Republican Party of not paying enough attention to this issue, as well with the overall issue of the economy: