While many Hollywood stars may have raised a champagne flute yesterday to mark President Obama's signing of the stimulus package, actor Kelsey Grammer was not among them. The actor best known for his roles in "Cheers" and "Frasier" told NewsBusters's sister organization CNSNews.com recently that he was a "free enterprise guy" who feared that CEO pay caps included in the corporate bailouts were a "sort of a deal with the devil."
CNSNews.com staffer Nicholas Ballasy caught up with Grammer recently at a ceremony marking the reopening of Ford's Theatre where the actor panned the package as rewarding "evildoers" who have wrecked the economy:
Our friends at the Associated Press and local Portland KGW Channel 8 both note how some Oregon state lawmakers proposed a bill which would raise the tax on a barrel of beer by a staggering 1,900%.But guess what they leave out? The AP's story is brief:
Beer brewers in Oregon are hopping mad about a proposed bill that would raise their taxes by 1900 percent. The state bill would impose a nearly $50 tax on each barrel of beer produced by Oregon brewers.
Lawmakers who support the tax say the bill would fund prevention and treatment programs for those addicted to alcohol, as well as raise revenue for the state.
But brewers say the tax would cost jobs and could force small breweries to shut down. They say it could also mean a two to four dollar per six pack increase in price for consumers.
KGW's article is more in-depth, mentions the lawmakers who have proposed the bill, but leaves it up to the reader to determine their party affiliation:
On Saturday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Kimberly Dozier filed a report profiling moderate Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both from Maine, in light of their vote in favor of President Obama's economic plan, and relayed their criticisms that other Republicans should show more willingness to "compromise." Dozier also likened Collins to another former Republican Senator from Maine, Margaret Chase Smith, who is known for being "the first Senator to stand up to McCarthyism."
Dozier began her report: "President Obama owes his stimulus package to three Senators from the losing side. Three renegade Republicans tipped the balance: Senator Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania and two women Senators from the sparsely populated state of Maine – Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins."
Sigh. Here we go again. First it was our capitalist society deemed gone as Newsweek magazine declared, "We're socialists now." This time - it's the death of supply-side economics, according to Newsweek Senior Editor Daniel Gross.
To sum it up, Gross declared tax cuts obsolete, a theory that only works on paper, in a time when employers come and go and institutions aren't stable like they once were. For his "Money Culture" column, in an article headlined "Tax Cuts Won't Work" posted on Feb. 13, Gross made that point using a Harvard professor, thought to have a secure job, as an example.
"Back in the day, and in many of the past episodes of postwar recession, the typical American worker resembled a Harvard professor-not in brains or wit, to be sure, but in the shape of her economic life," Gross wrote. "Many-not all, but a lot-enjoyed long, relatively secure job tenures, steady incomes, and generous employer-provided health and retirement benefits. But the economy has changed significantly in recent decades. And the circumstances that might prod our professor to start spending those tax cuts immediately might not apply to everybody else. The typical worker-white-collar, blue-collar, no-collar-doesn't have anything like tenure or a guaranteed job."
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric introduced a report on the Democrats’ so-called "stimulus" plan about to pass Congress: "And we'll tell you what's in it for you, including tax breaks...It's designed, in part, to get you spending again by giving you the money to do it." However, in July of 2001, when President Bush was trying to get tax cut legislation passed, then Evening News anchor Dan Rather warned: "...new worries that his big tax cuts, along with a shrinking budget surplus, are re-shaping the political and fiscal landscape of the country."
Following Couric, Correspondent Nancy Cordes touted the benefits of the tax cuts: "For restaurant owner Tom Glascow, and for most Americans, the new stimulus package serves up a variety of tax cuts...The biggest bit is a $400 credit for almost all workers. That comes out to about $13 a week, which may not sound like much, but consider this-" Glascow explained: "The bottom line is, is every little bit will help...Basically, what does my business good is people with disposable income that can spend a little extra on lunch on a daily basis."
How could anyone take a principled stand against the $789 billion economic stimulus bill? Any opposition to this massive expansion of the federal government must be sheer political posturing. Or so said Newsweek magazine's Jonathan Alter.
Alter said on MSNBC's Feb. 11 "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" that congressional Republicans oppose the stimulus bill based on an ill-conceived, low-percentage bet that the proposal would fail.
"Well, they're betting on the 30 percent chance, as Joe Biden put it, that it's not going to work," Alter said. "Then they can say, ‘I told you so, it didn't do any good.'"
A CBS News poll conducted February 2 through February 4 found that 62 percent of Americans believe that tax cuts would do more to get the country out of recession, while only 16 percent thought government spending would. However, when Evening News anchor Katie Couric touted other results from that same poll on Thursday, February 5 she managed to leave out that particular finding. That poll finding has not been mentioned in any CBS News coverage since the poll’s release on February 5.
Instead, Couric focused on the aspect of the poll that claimed that 51 percent of Americans support the so-called "stimulus" bill being pushed by the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress. In addition, later on Thursday’s Evening News, correspondent Chip Reid also cited a poll question that showed 81 percent of Americans saw President Obama as being bipartisan in the debate over the massive spending bill.
With Barack Obama’s first press conference as president scheduled on Monday night, one obvious question that comes up is what kind of questions he will receive from the White House press corps. His predecessor, George W. Bush, faced some pressing questions during his first press conference on February 22, 2001.
Liberal firebrand Helen Thomas offered the most politically-charged question: “Mr. President, why do you refuse to respect the wall between the church and state? And you know that the mixing of religion and government, for centuries, has led to slaughter. The very fact that our country has stood in good stead by having this separation -- why do you break it down?” When President Bush answered that he did “respect the separation of church and state,” Thomas blasted back: “Well, you wouldn't have a religious office in the White House if you did.” Since President Obama has decided to retain Bush’s faith-based initiative (although with a new name and slightly new mission), one wonders if Thomas will press the Democrat on the issue.
Former Sen. Tom Daschle might have been forced to withdraw his name as President Obama's Health and Human Services secretary last week, but his tax problems were far less egregious than Timothy Geithner's, the man just confirmed as the Secretary of the Treasury.
In fact, according to Pulitzer Prize winning Vanity Fair contributing editors James Steele and Donald Barlett, Geithner's offenses were significantly worse because he "not only signed a paper acknowledging he owed taxes, he collected money to pay the taxes and then didn’t."
The pair were interviewed by Democracy Now's Amy Goodman Friday, and told their liberal host things about this matter few in the media would dare as it would be another embarrassment for Obama (video embedded below the fold with rush transcript):
Say goodbye to hope and change. It's time to embrace the politics of doom and gloom.
MSNBC host Contessa Brewer, in an interview that seemed a lot like a lobbying campaign for the stimulus set for a vote in the U.S. Senate, quizzed Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., about the possibility that his vote against a stimulus bill could send the country spiraling into a Depression - and endanger the public's footwear.
"But if it fails, if it fails and our economy implodes and we see ourselves stuffing cardboard back in our shoes like they did in the Depression era, are you willing to put your name behind that?" Brewer asked.
"I'm willing to stay here and continue through the weekend, next week, the next week, to try to solve something and get it right - don't rush into something like this country rushed into the bailout program right before the holidays last year," Barrasso replied. "I think that was rushed. We found out that that didn't accomplish the goal."
It's time to wave the white flag and surrender to "post-partisan" unity.
Yes, it's time for conservatives to abandon core principles and just allow the Pelosi/Reid/Obama pork-a-palooza, also known as the stimulus or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, to pass into law. At least that's what one Newsweek columnist would have conservatives do.
Now is not the time for political bickering in this "post-partisan" era, said Newsweek columnist Michael Hirsh in a Web exclusive piece for Newsweek dated Feb. 4. Hirsh reflected on how Obama has lost grip on the "agenda in Washington," and complained how the debate on the stimulus has proceeded, "nitpicking over efficiency" instead of debating the size.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) participated in a blogger conference call Monday to discuss President Obama's stimulus package and its prospects for passage in the Senate.
NewsBusters associate editor Noel Sheppard participated in this discussion, and had an interesting exchange with the Senator concerning current tax receipt projections by the White House and what they suggest about the economy.
Don't like the notion of Wall Street employees receiving bonuses? Shoot the messenger - as Adam Green at The Huffington Post has done.
In a Feb. 2 post on The Huffington Post, Green said it was bad form for CNBC "Street Signs" host Erin Burnett to even think about considering the other side of the anti-Wall Street bonus argument, since some Wall Street banks received TARP funds, courtesy of the taxpayer.
"There are, though - well, how should we say this - the taxpayer money is not being used to pay the bonuses," Burnett explained on NBC's Feb. 1 "Meet the Press." "I think people could understand if you work for a company - right? If the three of us worked for a company, your guests, and I lost $10 billion but Steve [Forbes] over there, he made a billion dollars. So overall the company actually loses money, but Steve went and did his very darndest for that company and he made money. So should he be paid for his work? That's essentially what we're talking about here."
With all the populist sentiment generated from the economic slowdown by politicians, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer is seeing eerie similarities with the comments of President Barack Obama and the words of a communist revolutionary.
Cramer, appearing on MSNBC's Feb. 2 "Morning Joe," drew comparisons between remarks between the first head of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, and Obama. Obama criticized Wall Street's moneymaking on Jan. 30, when he said there would be a time "for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now's not that time. And that's a message that I intend to send directly to them."
Cramer said that was similar to Lenin's writings. "Let me tell you something, we heard Lenin," Cramer said. "There was a little snippet last week that was, ‘Now is not the time for profits.' Look - in Lenin's book, ‘What Is to Be Done?' is simple text of what I always though was for the communists, it was remarkable to hear very similar language from ‘What Is to Be Done?' which is we have no place for profits."
Analysis: GOP gambles in opposing Obama stimulus By CHARLES BABINGTON and LIZ SIDOTI AP White House Correspondent Jennifer Loven contributed to this report.
At least two of these folks come with a history. Charles Babington, when at the Washington Post, and Jennifer Loven, in her current position as Democratic flack for the AP, each have a history of writing briefs for the current Democratic position disguised as news reporting or analysis, with Loven having trouble interpreting polls correctly.
WASHINGTON (AP) Eight days after Barack Obama took office as a "change" president, House Republicans have made a huge political gamble that could set the tone for the next election cycle. In unanimously opposing the massive spending bill that Obama says is crucial to reviving the economy, they signaled they are not cowed by his November win or his calls for a new era of bipartisanship.
CNN's Campbell Brown isn't happy with what Rush Limbaugh said about her colleague Ali Velshi Friday, and has invited the conservative radio host to debate him on her program.
As some background, Velshi was on Brown's "No Bias, No Bull" show Thursday and claimed: "This is not the economy that Ronald Reagan ever saw or anybody with the last name Bush ever saw, or Clinton. We have not seen anything like this in our lifetime."
After the fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product numbers were released Friday showing a much lower-than-expected decline, Limbaugh took issue with what Velshi said the night before:
Mr. Velshi, you are incompetent. You are a disservice to your business, except you fit right in at CNN. Disinformation, character assaults. This economy is nowhere near as bad as it was in 1982.
Brown took issue with this Friday evening (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, file photo):
"I think it's just another reminder of how the left hates free speech," Coulter said. "It really is strange how they go after speakers like this. I mean, there is no campaign by conservatives to shutdown Keith Olbermann. In fact, I wish more Americans would listen to him - to see the face of the left, the only 57-year-old woman trapped in a man's body to host his own TV show."
Moments later, we got our first clue as the conservative talk radio host was interviewed by CNBC's Erin Burnett and Mark Haines.
UPDATE: Better functioning video now embedded; bonus "Fox & Friends" interview video also added at end of post.
Most fascinating, Burnett, who has come across as left of center and pro-Obama, seemed much more interested in Limbaugh's views on this issue than Haines who not only has always struck me as conservative, but has also been quite hostile to Obama's economic positions as well as all the government spending since the financial crisis began last September (video embedded below the fold, full transcript available here):
Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh wrote an op-ed in Thursday's Wall Street Journal wherein he offered a bipartisan stimulus plan to get the economy going.
As not one Republican voted for President Obama's economic package in the House Wednesday despite his campaign promises to usher in a new era of bipartisanship, given the media's focus on Limbaugh of late one would expect his now-published plan to get oodles of press attention.
Will it, and if it does will Obama-loving media members seriously consider the details or quickly dismiss it because of its origin?
As you ponder, here are some of Limbaugh's suggestions:
Between Election 2008 and the early moments of the Obama administration, it was assumed a new New Deal was coming complete with massive infrastructure projects. But, now the stimulus package is so full of other things even some of the most unlikely news outlets have noticed.
In an amazing moment of clarity, resembling the end of a Hardy Boys novel after Frank and Joe solved a mystery, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer and MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews questioned the meager infrastructure spending in the stimulus bill that passed in the House of Representatives on Jan. 28 by a 244-188 margin, without a single Republican vote during "Hardball" that night.
Update/Closing thoughts (14:34): Hearst columnist Helen Thomas continues to make a cartoon of herself in her using her perch to parrot ultra-left-wing talking points. Her question today was on why President Obama wants to send troops into Afghanistan to "kill more people."Without doubt it was the loopiest left-wing question posed today. Oddly enough, given her history of bias, one of the best queries today came from April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, who questioned the wisdom of pegging hopes of economic recovery on so-called "green jobs."
About to live-blog the White House daily press briefing. I'm focusing chiefly on the questions from the journalists. I'm watching via Fox News.
13:42: Gibbs: our e-mail system isn't working so well, apologizes for that to press corps.
Questions from reporters follow:
13:44, female reporter: Can you describe a little more fully about Amb. Rice's comments on mid-east diplomacy
13:45, female reporter: So you can't say when the diplomacy [with Iran] will begin or how?
13:46, Chuck Todd, NBC News: When are you guys going to announce a housing plan? Where is the money? Is it part of TARP?
13:47,Todd's followup: Does that mean it will not be part of the $350 billion?
13:48, Todd: Going to encourage banks to lend more?
Before another edition airs (1 PM EST) in a few hours of CNN's Fareed Zakaria: GPS (Global Public Square), CNN was so pleased with Zakaria's commentary from last Sunday that they re-ran it on Thursday afternoon to counter House Minority Leader John Boehner's advocacy of tax cuts to boost the economy. In the noon hour Thursday CNN re-played Zakaria's commentary from the top of his January 18 show, in which he denounced the tax cuts as “the single most significant bad decision George Bush made.” Though federal revenue from income taxes has soared faster than inflation, Zakaria, editor of Newsweek's international edition, blamed the tax cuts for the rising deficit:
But by far the lion's share of the surpluses went into the tax cuts. It was the most profoundly un-conservative act of the Bush presidency. Rather than pay down the debt or save in the good times for the inevitable bad times, Bush squandered it all, so that all of us, particularly the high-income earners, could indulge in a bit more consumption.
Federal revenue tops $2.6 trillion, yet Zakaria ludicrously complained: “And now, when times have gotten bad and when we sorely need those reserves, we're clean out of cash.”
That's one of the selling points used over and over again by pundits, as they are paraded out repeatedly on broadcast and cable network news programs - that so-called "shovel-ready" projects will challenge economic woes by revitalizing something we need to do anyway. But only 3 percent of the Obama stimulus plan is slated for such projects.
"The total size of the plan is about $750 to $800 billion - roughly $300 billion is for tax cuts for businesses and individuals," CBS correspondent Chip Reid said on CBS's Jan. 12 "The Early Show." "The rest will be spent on everything from roads and bridges to renewable energy to create three to 4 million jobs. Republicans are raising red flags about the amount of spending."
CNBC rabble-rouser and "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer questioned the merits of Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama's Treasury Secretary-designate, and told viewers on CNBC's Jan. 22 "Street Signs" that, had he been in Geithner's shoes, he'd face criminal prosecution.
"I happen to have a meeting with my lawyers just to discuss this - with my battalion of lawyers, the $2,000-a-hour gang - and you know, they would say if it was Cramer, I would be prosecuted, maybe criminally prosecuted," Cramer said. "And my lawyers were somewhat shocked that on Chris Matthews I said it was OK, given the fact they said Geithner better get himself the best lawyer in town."
I was going through the comments tonight at my Pajamas Media column about the Geithner nomination that went up earlier today, and came across this at Comment 39 from "Mike M":
The deduction he took for the summer camp as a day care expense is EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED IN THE IRS CODE! That’s out and out tax fraud. Even Leona Helmsly (sic) is jealous in her grave ....
It turns out that there is a lot more to the Geithner story. It has been sitting right there in details that were made public last week, but were mostly ignored by the Washington press. While the amounts involved aren't anywhere near as large as those relating to Geithner's self-employment taxes from 2001 through 2004 on his earnings at the International Monetary Fund -- taxes he didn't pay until audited by the IRS (2003 and 2004) or until just before his nomination was announced (2001 and 2002) -- they are nonetheless revealing, infuriating, and disturbing. They make the claims of "honest mistakes" that his defenders up to and including Barack Obama continue to employ look much, much weaker (paragraph image is from Pages 3 and 4 of the relevant report stored here as a PDF; a larger JPEG image is here):
The Associated Press's 1:12 p.m. coverage (saved here, as the dynamic link changed during the drafting of this post) of the Senate Finance Committee's hearing on Barack Obama's nomination of Timothy Giethner as Treasury Secretary has plenty of discussion of Geithner's tax "mistakes" (the picture, but not its heading, is from a November 21 New York Times article).
But as has been the case with every AP report I've seen, there is no mention of the fact that the International Monetary Fund, Geithner's 2001-2004 employer, partially reimbursed him for his Social Security and Medicare "self-employment tax" liabilities.
Here are the first eight paragraphs of AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger's report:
The Associated Press's record of running interference for Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner continues mostly unabated.
My chronicle of AP's largely weak coverage, most of which has been previously detailed at NewsBusters (here, here, and here), is at the end of this post.
No AP report I have seen has noted that Geithner applied for and merely pocketed partial "reimbursements" from the International Monetary Fund for payroll/"self-employment" taxes. He signed IMF forms saying that he had paid or would pay those taxes. He didn't pay up for 2003 and 2004 until his returns were audited. He more than likely never would have paid up for 2001 and 2002 if he had not been nominated, even though a strong case could be made that he engaged in tax evasion.
These aspects of Geithner's tax situation, if widely known, would, I believe, cause the average taxpayer to object strongly to the very idea of his nomination. AP's alleged journalists appear to believe that this cannot be allowed to happen.
AP Personal Finance writer Dave Carpenter, in a mostly Q&A piece with a really weak title ("Meltdown 101: US tax laws can even foil the pros"), continued the silence on pocketed reimbursements yesterday afternoon (stored here for future reference). He also seems to have found every excuse for Geither except "the dog ate my W-2":
Yesterday, details discovered about Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner's tax situation moved it to well past the level of an "honest mistake."
You wouldn't know it from the Associated Press's Julie Hirschfeld Davis, who, as I noted yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), continues to run interference for him. A story from Thursday afternoon that has since been dynamically updated had a final paragraph alluding to the fact that Geithner had signed annual statements acknowleding his obligation to pay his own payroll taxes (Update: That Thursday afternoon story is still at Breitbart). That paragraph is not present in the story as updated at 3:13 a.m. this morning (saved here for future reference). Even that paragraph, when it was present, didn't note that Geithner had applied for and received reimbursement for payroll taxes he didn't pay.
First, here are key paragraphs from Davis's cheerleading roundup, including disconcerting statements of support for Geithner from many who should know better:
Federal spending is already at a record level, but instead of asking President-elect Barack Obama about the effectiveness of his proposed additional deficit spending, in an “exclusive” interview excerpted Wednesday night, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric hit him on the tax cut component:
Forty percent of your stimulus package relies on tax cuts with the hopes that people will invest that money or put it back into the economy. But some critics have said, "hey, that didn't really happen the last time." Why will it this time?
Couric did at least raise how “your nominee for Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, failed to pay some taxes, and did so only after he learned he would be tapped as Treasury Secretary. How embarrassing do you think this is for a future Treasury Secretary who will be overseeing the IRS?” Otherwise, the excerpt covered Couric's inquiries about Osama bin Laden and the situation in Gaza. A longer portion will air Tuesday night during a prime time special, “Change and Challenge: The Inauguration of Barack Obama.”
In a post last night, I criticized the Associated Press for glossing over the 15 years of personal and domestic self-employment tax filing and payment problems of Timothy Geithner, Barack Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary (pictured at right in an AP photo).
It turns out that Brett Blackledge's Tuesday evening report was relatively hard-hitting in comparison to Julie Hirschfeld Davis's rendition early this morning (stored here, because her original 3:33 a.m. report has since been updated).
Davis's assignment appears to have been to shorten and update Blackledge's original writeup. To be fair, Davis immediately indicated that Geithner's nomination is no longer on cruise control. But she deleted, or pushed to later paragraphs, quite a few details that would cause an average reader to go "Huh? This guy wants to be Treasury Secretary?" What's more, her vague title ("Tax problems may plague Obama's treasury pick") replaced a much more specific one from Blackledge ("Geithner failed to pay self-employment taxes").
Davis's most obvious airbrush is in her second paragraph (bold is mine):