- Since Obama took office, only 16 percent of health care stories mentioning the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) included any criticism of their accounting, despite criticism from many conservative and libertarian experts as well as the former head of CBO.
- Networks reporters and guests emphasized the CBO's integrity calling them "non-partisan," "independent" and the "referee" or "arbiter" of legislation costs. CBS's Nancy Cordes even declared them to be "trusted by both parties as the authority on budget matters."
The new majority in the House of Representatives has made it clear that voting on a full repeal of ObamaCare is its top priority, something a majority of Americans support. But their resolution, H.R. 2, has come under fire from the left and the liberal news media over the deficit.
Democrats, including Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., claimed that House Republicans "are breaking their first promise in their first week" because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that repealing the health care bill would add $230 billion to the deficit over 10 years.
CBS's Katie Couric called it "new ammunition" for Democrats on Jan 6, 2011, and on the network news that proved to be the case.
That "ammunition" used to portray the GOP as fiscal hypocrites has also been criticized as "nonsense," not that you'd know it from the network news media.
Appearing as a guest on Friday’s Countdown show on MSNBC, Washington Post staff writer and Newsweek columnist Ezra Klein defended Obamacare and warned Republicans against attempting to repeal the law as he contended that some provisions are popular with the public. After host Keith Olbermann asked if Democrats should "relish rejoining the fight over health care reform" because it could hurt Republicans, Klein urged Democrats to fight. Klein:
They should be going to war over it. It's an incredibly important achievement for them, and if Democrats cannot defend a deficit-reducing bill that brings health care insurance to 32 million people and allows folks with pre-existing conditions to get any insurance they want, if they can't defend that, frankly, they, on some level, don't really deserve to be a party. If you can't defend the best thing you've done in a generation, then you've got some political problems that are bigger than anything the Republicans are doing to you.
The Washington Post writer eventually predicted that Republicans would be embracing and defending Obamacare by the year 2050. Klein: "In 2050 Republicans will be saying, ‘How dare you cut Obamacare?’"
AP reporters Calvin Woodward and Andrew Taylor answered the bell and came out swinging at the Republican House within hours after John Boehner was sworn in as Speaker, accusing the GOP of supposedly breaking a number of core promises.
As usual when the wire service covers Republicans, there's no shortage of inconsistency bordering on hypocrisy coming from AP's alleged journalists.
Here are selected paragraphs from this morning's report ("PROMISES, PROMISES: GOP drops some out of the gate"):
President Obama has taken an admirable stand for fiscal austerity, and blasted attempts to yet again raise the debt ceiling, which currently stands at $14.3 trillion (with a T) - or roughly the GDP of the United States. Said the president:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
Just kidding. That was Senator Obama in 2006, when debt was apparently a far larger problem - even though the ceiling was only(!) $9 trillion at the time.
ABC’s Diane Sawyer hit a group of incoming freshmen House and Senate members about presumed Tea Party hypocrisy in accepting farm subsidies and not refusing to accept federal employee health care while CBS’s Katie Couric, with three House members, despaired over the “danger” that budget cuts might “be too deep?” Forwarding liberal talking points, in the pre-recorded segment aired on Wednesday’s World News, Sawyer relayed:
The Democrats have a challenge for the Republicans, saying, if you're going to cut spending, go ahead and start close to home. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler of Missouri got more than $750,000 in taxpayer subsidies for her farm. Are you ready to vote against all farm subsidies?
Sawyer continued: “And on the promise to repeal health care reform, Democrats ask: Will they be giving up their new taxpayer-subsidized insurance? Only two of them said they would.”
On the CBS Evening News, Couric noted “Republicans say high on their priority list is deficit reduction, starting with major cuts in domestic spending this year. Fiscally conservative freshmen say everything’s fair game.” She then fretted: “But is there danger in your view, Congressman West, that the ax will be too sharp, that the cuts will be too deep?”
Talking to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer on Wednesday's Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge saw efforts to repeal ObamaCare as a political liability: "How risky a proposition is this for Republicans incoming now?" Schieffer dismissed it as, "a lot of shouting, hollering, and symbolic votes," adding, "we've got a couple of months before anything really serious is going to happen."
Wragge went on to cite liberal New York Times writer Matt Bai, who claimed Republicans had no real political mandate despite extensive victories in November: "Once you win, the human tendency is to credit the gravitational force of your own ideas, to assume that you made a more compelling and more substantive case than you actually did." Wragge asked Schieffer: "Is that what we may see in the early days from the Republican leadership here, do you think?"
During the 12PM ET hour on MSNBC on Tuesday, anchor Contessa Brewer condemned Republican plans to reign in government spending: "Republicans poised to take over the U.S. House tomorrow and they arrive with a big, fat budget ax. They're planning make good on a promise to curb spending and cut the federal deficit and their plan could mean real pain for many Americans."
Brewer claimed the effort "is so politically risky, even Republicans in the Senate haven't pledged their support." She then touted White House talking points attacking the GOP: "...the White House warns Republicans the cuts could create catastrophic consequences for the economy. Budget Director Jacob Lew says it could put the recovery in a deep freeze and kill thousands of jobs." Brewer cheered: "The President is urging GOP leaders to focus on the economy and steer clear of politics."
Reporting on Monday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes decried House Republicans attempting to repeal ObamaCare: "...they made it clear they'll try to use their 49-vote advantage to wipe out key Democratic legislation from 2010. Including the President's signature achievement, health care reform."
Following Cordes's report, co-host Erica Hill asked political analyst John Dickerson about the likelihood of repeal. After Dickerson explained that repeal could not pass, a relieved Hill declared: "So, folks who like it may not have to worry about it? Because there are certain provisions that have actually gone over well with a fair number of Americans. Things like keeping your adult children on you're insurance and of course those lifetime coverage limits." Dickerson agreed: "And new things that people will like are coming on line with the new year. Middle income seniors will see – get some relief in the prescription drug prices."
On Sunday's Face the Nation, substitute host Harry Smith dismissed GOP goals of "dismantling health care" as merely a "fool's errand."
Filling in for Bob Schieffer on Sunday's Face the Nation, CBS's Harry Smith grilled Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann on Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare: "One of the things the Tea Party has talked about is dismantling health care. And we're wondering if, in the end of the day, that ends up being a fool's errand...it will face a certain veto. Is it worth the effort to try to do?"
Bachmann defended the move and pointed out popular support for repeal: "ObamaCare will bankrupt the country. And so you've seen that the more the people learn about ObamaCare the less they like it. It's very costly, it's unwieldy. So we will put forth a clean repeal bill of ObamaCare. And you'll continue to see us make that fight because that's what the American people want us to do."
John Lindsay might have been the worst mayor in NYC history. Epitome of the limousine liberal, Lindsay nearly bankrupted the Big Apple. But that hasn't stopped Jon Meacham from lauding Lindsay as "one of the greatest mayors in New York history." The former Newsweek editor bestowed the honorific title while appearing on today's Morning Joe.
Meacham's comment came in the context of grouping Lindsay with Mike Bloomberg as another NYC mayor who didn't deal well with a big snowstorm. But after noting that lapse, Meacham made amends with his GMINYH moniker.
After the jump, view the video and a description of Lindsay's absolutely disastrous record.
On Saturday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Bob Orr filed a report on the incoming Republican congressional freshmen, and, after noting that Rep.-elect Allen West was taking a "hard line" on federal spending, and after showing a clip of the Florida Republican raising doubts about compromising "your principles," the CBS correspondent used the cliche "partisan bickering" as he warned that such views could end the recent "collaborative spirit" in Congress, and plugged President Obama’s call for "cooperation." Orr:
It's a warning of sorts that the collaborative spirit of the recent lame duck Congress may soon dissolve into renewed partisan bickering. President Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, today made a preemptive bid for continued cooperation.
After soundbites from Republican Rep.-elect Ben Quayle and the Politico’s David Mark, Orr concluded his report predicting that Tea Party Republicans could "cause trouble" within the Republican caucus:
On Friday’s Inside Washington on PBS, host Gordon Peterson used the term "free lunch" to mock Republicans who wish to avoid tax increases while trying to restrain the federal budget deficit. After panel member Jeanne Cummings of Politico predicted a tough fight in Congress over spending, Peterson turned the conversation to Washington Post columnist Colby King. Peterson: "Hold the line on taxes, attack the deficit. Can I offer you a free lunch, Colby?"
After King gave his predictions for the budget fight, Newsweek columnist Evan Thomas accused Republicans of "selling smoking and mirrors," and asserted that "they need to be held accountable by the press." He went on to dismiss the GOP desire to cut taxes. Thomas:
Republicans are going to be selling smoke and mirrors, and they need to be held accountable by the press. They’re gonna be talking about cutting spending, but not big entitlement programs, which is where all the money is. And cutting taxes, which you just cannot do and deal with our fiscal problems. I mean, I’m all for attacking big government, and the Tea Party’s not all wrong about that, but the way that they’re talking about doing it involves a lot of fiction.
When the legislators and good-government people who drafted the law requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit and render an opinion on the financial statements of the federal government as a whole and the major departments within it, they must have known that early-year results would not be very pleasant. But I also suspect that they thought the shame of being exposed as having unauditable records would be lead to constructive action and improvement.
Maybe on the margins, but not on the whole, as this GAO press release addressing its report on Uncle Sam's financial statements last week tells us:
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) cannot render an opinion on the 2010 consolidated financial statements of the federal government, because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations.
To those who have spent time following new reports emanating from the Associated Press, it's not exactly a secret that many of the alleged journalists who work there are having difficulty with the idea that there will be a new Republican majority in the House during the next two years. A further annoyance is that many members of that majority, especially the newer ones, hold sensible, Constitution-based views inspired by Tea Party movement. But as supposed professionals, you would think that the folks at the wire service might try a little harder to avoid blatantly revealing their bias.
If the AP's Julie Pace was really trying to stay within the bounds of the patently obvious, she failed miserably, as the bolded words in the following paragraph from her 2:31 p.m. report (also saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes) on President Obama's decision to delay submitting a budget to Congress until mid-February indicate:
On Monday's Good Morning America, ABC's George Stephanopoulos took a skeptical tone during an interview of liberal Senator Chuck Schumer concerning a new report from Senator Tom Coburn, which pointed out the 100 most wasteful federal government projects of 2010: "He [Coburn] says there are hundreds of billions of dollars of waste. Do you buy that?"
Stephanopoulos turned to Senator Schumer after ABC correspondent Jonathan Karl highlighted the findings of Senator Coburn's "wastebook" report, and led the interview with his "do you buy that" question. After the Democrat from New York gave his initial answer, the former Clinton administration official trumpeted the accomplishments of the outgoing liberal Congress in its lame duck session:
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you are- looking like you're going be [there] until Christmas, doing an awful lot of work during this lame duck session of Congress. I know you were critical of the President's negotiating in this tax compromise, but decided to vote for it. You've also now passed the 'don't ask, don't tell' [repeal], the food safety bill, and you seem to have a breakthrough on something you've been fighting for for years, this several-billion dollar bill to get health benefits to emergency workers for 9/11. Are you confident now that you have the votes to get this through the Senate, and will the House stay in session to make sure it gets passed?
Nearly 80 percent of the $858 billion “cost” of the compromise tax bill signed Friday by President Barack Obama is, per a Congressional Research Service estimate, from the $675 billion over the next ten years the government would have received if income tax rates were raised, a perspective widely adopted by network reporters and hosts who assumed just keeping rates at their current levels should be counted as a “cost” to the national debt and annual deficits.
“The $858 billion price tag for this bill will be added to the already $14 trillion national debt,” ABC’s Jake Tapper concluded Friday night, “meaning we, our children and our children's children will likely be on the hook for the law that was passed today.”
The Sunday interview shows echoed Tapper’s spin. On CBS’s Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer lamented how the tax bill “is going to just add to the deficit.” David Gregory, interviewing Vice President Biden on Meet the Press, bemoaned how the tax compromise will “add a trillion dollars to the deficit.” Later in the program, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough also exaggerated the $858 billion to $1 trillion as he declared: “It straps us with another trillion dollars worth of debt.”
Did you know that the "big new tax law" signed by President Obama yesterday "will save taxpayers, on average, about $3,000 next year," and that it will have "tax breaks for being married, having children, paying for child care, going to college or investing in securities"?
Don't spend that extra $3,000 yet, because it mostly won't be there. With the only major exception being the 2-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax, and of course barring new legislation the next Congress may take on, the tax laws for the next two years will essentially be the same as they have been since 2003, when Congress lowered marginal income, capital gain, and dividend income tax rates.
This lack of major change didn't stop the Ministry of Propaganda -- er, the Associated Press -- and reporter Stephen Ohlemacher from calling the new legislation "the most significant new tax law in a decade," when there's almost nothing "new" about it, or from trumpeting how much certain American families will "save" as a result.
The morning after a contentious vote in which over 100 House Democrats revolted against the Democratic president's proposed tax package, NBC congressional correspondent Kelly O'Donnell chose to frame the debate as a resounding victory for the White House.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" today, O'Donnell was only willing to admit "some" Democratic opposition to the extension of current tax rates for all Americans, which will prevent an across-the-board tax increase in January.
Instead of reporting that 112 Democrats turned against President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, O'Donnell emphasized that the votes were evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, 138 to 139, respectively. For O'Donnell, 45 percent of the president's party defecting represents only "some" opposition.
As one of the liberal media members that have expressed feeling betrayed by the President's recent tax compromise proposal, Ed Schultz on Wednesday said Barack Obama did a better job of selling the Bush tax cuts than George W. Bush ever did.
So dismayed by today's 81 to 19 Senate vote in favor of the measure was the host of MSNBC's "The Ed Show" that he asked Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, "Do you trust President Obama?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Liberal media members opposed to President Obama's tax cut compromise plan have been making the case that it's hypocritical of the Tea Party not to be universally against the measure given its impact on the deficit.
After Ed Schultz and Bill Press not surprisingly took this view on Monday's "Ed Show," Michael Medved gave them both a much-needed education on the subject (video follows with transcript and commentary):
One of the press's longest campaigns to systematically obfuscate the truth about a specific government program is the one that has protected Social Security from reasonable scrutiny for most of the 75 years of its existence.
The Associated Press's Stephen Ohlemacher did his part to continue the misdirection in his coverage of the possible effects of the payroll tax cut President Obama and congressional Republicans have proposed.
To Mr. Ohlemacher, the Social Security system has this huge, "guaranteed" trust fund. I can almost stop there, but readers should buck up and see the following excerpt as an object example of the falsehoods fed to the public for so many years (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
The award for Best Line of the Weekend goes to Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot who on Sunday's "Meet the Press" offered a delicious irony concerning Friday's surprise press conference hosted by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
"I love the symbolism of two Democratic presidents--not one, but two--endorsing Bush tax cuts, saying, 'We need them crucially to help the economy' (video follows with transcript and commentary):
A New York Times "Learning Network" graphic informs us that under the proposed Obama-GOP tax and spending compromise, "rates will not change for at least two years for anyone."
Wow. Somebody at the Learning Network needs to tell the Old Gray Lady's beat reporters, editorial board, and opinion columnists. Just today, reporter Helene Cooper, in noting how Vice President Joe Biden is playing a "bigger role" in the administration (translation: picking up the pieces from President Obama's disastrous ongoing alienation of anyone and everyone, friend and foe alike), twice refers to the compromise as involving "tax cuts." Cooper's defenders may claim that the Times reporter is partially referring to the proposed one-year reduction in the Social Security payroll tax from 6.2% to 4.2%, but that's not a contentious issue at the moment (though given how broke the Social Security really is, it should be). Federal income tax rates for 2011 and beyond are.
Anyway, as far as the Learning Network is concerned, so far, so good. But then it commits its own unforced error:
Who Benefits? All taxpayers, but especially high-income households, which had faced a new, higher rate.
How can you cover a story about Uncle Sam's November Monthly Treasury Statement and the proposed Obama-GOP compromise on taxes and unemployment benefits without using the words "spending," "receipts," any form of "collect," or "unemployment"? It's a neat trick, but the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger pulled it off in his Friday afternoon dispatch shortly after the government report's release.
Instead of communicating apparently boring facts, Crutsinger concentrated his fire on the "tax-cut agreement" with a supposed "cost (of) $855 billion over two years" worked out by President Obama and Congressional Republicans. In doing so, he "somehow" failed to mention that the proposal includes a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits.
Based on a comparison to this detailed analysis at the Hill, which reported yesterday that the proposal's "cost" is really $857 billion over 10 years, Crutsinger's two-year, $855 billion "cost" assertion, which does not include a detailed breakdown, appears to be wildly inaccurate.
Charles Krauthammer on Friday scolded Mark Shields and other liberals for "moaning and bitching" about the President's compromise tax plan after months of demanding the White House implement a second stimulus package.
After Shields on PBS's "Inside Washington" predictably criticized Obama for agreeing to extend the Bush tax cuts on the so-called rich, Krauthammer marvelously struck back (video follows with transcript and commentary):