The Oct. 26 New York Times took on Sen. Barack Obama's elusive health insurance mandate for employers -- the "play-or-pay" rule that would force businesses to pay a new tax if they didn't contribute a "meaningful" amount toward their workers' insurance. In the debates, Sen. John McCain asked more than once how much businesses would be fined, and Obama declined to say.
Now we know why. Just 'cuz.
“We made a decision even before the plan was rolled out not to decide,” David M. Cutler, a Harvard economist who speaks for the campaign on health care, told the Times. “It’s not that there’s a decision out there that we’re not telling. It’s literally that we’ve decided not to decide.”
In 2004, economists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), studied the policies of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and determined it actually prolonged the Depression by seven years.
Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian blamed anti-free market measures for the slow recovery in an article published in the August 2004 issue of the Journal of Political Economy.
Cole and Ohanian asserted that Roosevelt thought excessive business competition led to low prices and wages, adding to the severity of the Depression.
"[Roosevelt] came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies," Cole said in a press release dated Aug. 10, 2004.
Imagine that a week before a presidential election, a radio interview surfaced in which the Republican candidate had called for, say, the abolition of Social Security. Now imagine the broadcast networks' reaction to that nugget: "We interrupt regularly-scheduled programming for this Breaking News," followed by 24/7 coverage with talking heads pondering the devastating impact on America's seniors, the overall economy, the future of Western civilization, etc. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman would be booked from now till election day, offering his pained pronouncements.
But how do those same networks react when a radio interview [YouTube after the jump] surfaces of Barack Obama in a call for the redistribution of wealth, in which he laments the Supreme Court's insufficient radicalism in pursuing redistribution and refers to the civil rights movement's failure to develop a better strategy to bring about wealth redistribution as a "tragedy?
If you want to see an example of the media employing a subtle undercurrent of disdain for Republicans and praise for Democrats, you can't get any better example than the masterful effort at left leaning propaganda that the Boston Herald unleashed on October 26. Even the headline is artful for the negative image in which it casts McCain’s actions while simultaneously presenting Obama as the innocent victim. The subtlety is amazing and really must be seen to be believed.
With the very headline we see that nasty McCain and the obviously innocent Obama as the Herald sternly informs us that, "John McCain keeps swinging socialist hammer at Barack Obama." That mean, "hammering" McCain "swinging" that obviously absurd claim that the Marxist is a socialist! Imagine. The negative image of McCain being an aggressor is painfully obvious.
Megan McArdle, a blogger for TheAtlantic.com who has said she's voting for Obama, slammed the media in an appearance on Reason.tv's "The Talkshow" for not bringing up Sen. Joseph Biden's past as a "corporate sellout." McArdle said that was quite relevant when the Democratic candidates try to oppose financial deregulation in campaign appearances.
"And here is where I am willing to say the media is giving Obama a pass on a bunch of stuff that they shouldn't be ... It's ridiculous that no one is bringing up every time - every time Obama says anything about financial deregulation, Joe Biden's history should be trotted out and it's not and I'm not sure why," McArdle said to host Nick Gillespie.
Surprisingly, the October 21 "View" mentioned Congressman John Murtha’s "my constituents are racist" comments. Though Joy Behar called it a "stupid thing to say," they were much gentler on Murtha than on Michele Bachmann, who stated that Obama has associated with anti-American individuals.
Joy Behar labeled Bachmann a "red baiter" and alluded to the McCarthy era. Whoopi Goldberg asked "it okay for someone to start attacking your beliefs in your country because you don’t agree with their views?" Sherri Shepherd, who has confused historic time lines, recalls growing up in the McCarthy era before other co-hosts reminded her she was not yet born. Even the token Republican, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, would not defend Congresswoman Bachmann.
Is this a case of labeling one anti-American for a simple disagreement? A transcript of a recent "Hardball" interview demonstrates that she clearly alluded to Obama’s associations, William Ayers and Reverend Wright, who are indeed anti-American.
Covering a "sober summit" held in Lake Worth, Florida that "focused on boosting jobs and capping the rising costs of healthcare," Miami Herald's Lesley Clark noted that Sen. Barack Obama was joined on stage by the Democratic governors of the swing states of Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, and Ohio:
''A crisis like this calls for the best ideas, the brightest minds, the most innovative solutions from every corner of this country,'' said Obama, who invited the Democratic governors of four key election states to share a stage with him, along with a small business owner from Miami, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and the CEO of Internet giant Google.
Yet the 2008 Fiscal Policy Report Card by the libertarian Cato Institute found a C-average among those Democratic governors. By contrast McCain supporter Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) earned an "A." Michigan's Gov. Jennifer Granholm -- who portrayed Gov. Sarah Palin (R) in Sen. Joe Biden's debate prep -- and Colorado's Gov. Bill Ritter were assigned "D"s for their advocacy of tax hikes (emphasis mine):
On Monday’s Good Morning America, in a fact check of John McCain’s statement that Barack Obama “gives away your tax dollars to those who don’t pay taxes,” reporter Jake Tapper cited the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of the McCain and Obama tax cuts to stamp McCain’s charge “false.”
“Obama's tax cuts only go to people who work, so by definition, it's not welfare. Some working people eligible for Obama's tax cut make so little, they do not pay income taxes. But they do pay payroll taxes and other taxes,” Tapper summarized.
In other words, McCain would have been accurate if he’d said “gives an income tax cut to those who don’t pay income taxes — and pays for it by raising income taxes on those who are already shouldering more than half of the nation’s income tax burden.”
But Monday’s piece illustrated the liberal media’s penchant for analyzing tax proposals according to a liberal yardstick — who gets how big a check from the government — rather than by analyzing how the rival tax policies will contribute to greater prosperity (by helping or hurting economic growth, rewarding or punishing job creation, etc.).
Embarrass Obama, and expect the liberal media to go after you, no matter who you are: That's what National Review journalist Byron York warned early Thursday afternoon.
He was quickly proven right by a story from reporter Larry Rohter in Friday's New York Times, "Real Deal On Plumber Reveals New Slant," in which Rohter took a wrench to Joe Wurzelbacher (aka "Joe the Plumber"), the citizen who dared to question Obama on his tax plan as the Democrat campaigned in his neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio. Obama responded with a classic paleo-liberal cliche: "I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
That insight into Obama's mindset was politically fascinating, but Rohter buried it in the 11th paragraph of his story, focusing his investigation on such vital matters as "Joe's" actual first name (Samuel) and whether or not he has a plumber's license.
After smearing Joe the Plumber on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith turned to a group of his own hand selected ‘average Joes’ to defend Barack Obama’s tax plan: "I'll tell you, we have assembled a panel of 'average Joes.' Joe the plumber, the most famous person in America now. Well, we have five Joes here this morning, from various walks of life, and we're going to put their incomes to the test against the candidates' tax plans and see how it will affect them all." Financial analyst Jennifer Openshaw then proceeded to examine the personal financial situations of each "Joe" and concluded that four of them would save more money under Obama’s tax plan as promoted by his campaign.
Smith did acknowledge these projections were hypothetical: "...according to the Obama tax plan, and this, of course, is subject to passed by Congress...Talk about a pie in the sky." However, he then continued to assume it would be implemented and focused on the first guest, asking Openshaw: "He would do much better with Obama plan?" Openshaw replied: "You bet, he would do a lot better. But under McCain, what's interesting is, you know, he's got that $2,500 health care tax credit...for coverage, you know, you might not be able to cover both you and your son if you have to go find coverage someplace. So that's something to watch out for."
Story after story on the full-year results for the federal budget refers to the size of the full-year deficit for the fiscal year that just ended on September 30 ($455 billion), and how it compares to last year's deficit ($162 billion).
Almost none of them talk about why the deficit ballooned.
I wonder why?
Could it be because the Democrat-controlled Congress of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid allowed spending to spiral out of control?
On Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360 program, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen followed the liberal talking points about how Joe the Plumber’s real first name is Samuel and how he doesn’t have a plumbing license. When host Anderson Cooper asked if John McCain benefitted from the attention on the Ohio laborer, Gergen replied, "Well, I think he was for a while. But I -- when we found out he was Sam the non-plumber, it changed a little bit." Gergen went on to treat Joe Wurzelbacher, who works with plumbing, as if he worked as a McCain campaign surrogate: "...I don't understand why the McCain team didn't vet the guy before they made such a -- you know, made such a focus on him on national television. I can guarantee you that the George W. Bush campaign, you know, which ran a highly disciplined campaign, would have vetted and would have known before he went out there about... his personal status."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported on the role of Joe the Plumber, a.k.a. Joe Wurzelbacher, in the presidential campaign: "The McCain campaign is using Wurzelbacher to say their opponent would raise taxes. Though it turns out, Wurzelbacher himself owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes and his annual tax bill would actually go down under Obama's plan." Glor then added: "Obama mocked the McCain strategy."
At the end of Glor’s report, co-host Harry Smith asked: "Yeah Jeff, we're starting to learn a little bit more about Joe/Steven, the Plumber?" Smith mistakenly referred to Wurzelbacher’s first name being Steven, when in fact it is Samuel, and he corrected himself: "Samuel." Glor responded: "A couple of more things about Joe the Plumber -- Samuel, indeed. He is registered to vote. There were some questions about that. He does not have a plumber's license, though. And it turns out his real first name is Samuel. Joe is his middle name." At that moment, an on screen Graphic appeared with the headline: "The Real Joe the Plumber" and listed the details Glor mentioned. On Thursday, co-host Maggie Rodriguez claimed that Wurzelbacher: "...feels like he is being used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point..." but offered no direct quote of any such comment.
With 15minutesoffame comes 15 hours of “gotcha” scrutiny -- especially if you’re a voter who has daredto criticize Barack Obama, the liberal media’s Chosen One for president.
Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher has had his 15 minutes of fame, capping it off with an unplanned appearance as the poster boy of populist tax policy in last night’s presidential debate. So now it’s time for the press to turn its sights on him not as a human-interest story but as an investigative subject.
Jonathan Martin of The Politico was among the first out of the gate, with blog posts noting that Wurzelbacher, affectionately known by most of America as “Joe The Plumber,” has a tax lien against him and doesn’t have a plumber’s license. Martin conveniently forgot to mention that the law doesn’t require one.) Bloomberg also has a story on the tax lien, and AP and The Washington Post did their part to make a story out of the “unlicensed” non-story.
It may not have been "huge" when CNBC's Joe Kernen said it but the dude has been on practically every news station by now.
Kernen told chief Washington correspondent John Harwood that the "Joe the plumber" story "would be huge" and even a "bombshell," in any other election year. Kernen said voters "don't care" because they are buying into Sen. Obama's assertion that the Bush tax policies have led to the financial crisis.
"Obviously not everyone out there knows how to connect the dots between the [financial crisis] and tax policy. For some reason the Bush tax policies are being cited by Obama as the reason that we're in this position right now, again and again and again," said "Squawk Box" co-host Kernen Oct. 16.
ABC's "View" co-host Joy Behar dismissively called Joe Wurzelbacher's [Joe the Plumber] dream of owning a plumbing company a "fantasy" on the October 16 program. Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck called her out on it (audio available here):
JOY BEHAR, co-host: Joe the Plumber doesn't have a business yet, he's fantasizing about a business he's going to have.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK, co-host: Fantasizing?! This is a man who's trying to realize his hard work.
BEHAR: Excuse me! Fantasizing is a very legitimate term to describe somebody who's predicting the future for themselves. Creative visualization, okay.
HASSELBECK: Fantasizing is a dangerous thing to say because it assumes that it is not attainable.
Joe the Plumber, the ordinary guy who audaciously asked Obama a question about taxes, is caught in the fierce spotlight of media disapproval.
The New York Times Politics Blog "The Caucus" shined a bright, interrogation light into the background of Samuel J.Wurzelbacher (Joe the Plumber) on Oct. 16.
The post by Larry Rohter and Liz Robbins rushed to point out that Joe "is not a licensed plumber." Armed with the statement from Local 50 plumber's union, Rohter and Robbins attacked Joe for "playing games with the world."
But the bloggers were playing games by burying one easy explanation for that fact.
"Unlike some other states, Ohio does not have a formal statewide licensing system for plumbers. But the city of Toledo and other municipalities do," the blog post said 10 paragraphs later.
The Times bloggers also dismissed Joe's question about Obama's tax plan saying, "The premise of his question to Mr. Obama about taxes may also be flawed, according to tax analysts."
Wurzelbacher has become the focal point of the presidential election because of his objections to Obama's plan to boost taxes on people who earn more than $250,000. Ironically, the plumber currently has an income level that would make him eligible for Obama's proposed tax cut rather than the tax increase.
But that doesn't address what impact Obama's tax hikes might have on Wurzelbacher's boss and how new taxes might adversely impact the plumbing company's payroll under an Obama administration.
After noting that Wurzelbacher admitted the company he's hoping to buy doesn't cross the quarter-million threshold, Ibanga seemed perplexed at his anger at the notion of taxing "rich" people for their success:
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez claimed that Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio plumber who criticized Obama’s tax policy, was upset that McCain mentioned him in Wednesday’s debate: "This is the small businessman first mentioned by John McCain, but then referenced repeatedly by both candidates. I had a chance to speak with Joe after the debate and he told me he did not like being mentioned, he feels like he is being used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point..." Despite that assertion, Rodriguez never offered any audio, video, or even a direct quote of Wurzelbacher saying any such thing.
However, in the same sentence, Rodriguez did admit: "...at the same time, he said since he has been thrust into this, he wants America to know that he absolutely disagrees with Senator Obama's tax plan. He says it punishes him for making more money and he even called it Marxist." In the report by correspondent Jeff Glor that followed, such criticism of Obama was backed up as audio of Wurzelbacher talking to Evening News anchor Katie Couric was played: "You know, I've always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question for once, instead of tap dancing around it. And unfortunately I asked the question but I still got a tap dance. He [Barack Obama] was almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr."
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and asked about negative attacks in the campaign: "Alright, one of the things that's happened in the McCain campaign over the last couple of days is the personal attacks seem to have at least subsided or quieted down a little bit. Do you think, in the long run, this might actually have been a fatal wound to the McCain-Palin campaign?" Giuliani responded: "I think there's a tendency on the media to blame it more on John McCain and Sarah Palin than on Barack Obama and his campaign but, to me, it's -- you know it's been coming from both sides." To that, Smith sarcastically replied: "Yeah, it's got to be the media's fault." Giuliani laughed and added: "Don't be defensive, Harry."
This is the not the first time Smith has denied Giuliani’s charges of media bias. On September 12, Giuliani criticized the media for attacking Sarah Palin’s experience but not applying similar scrutiny to Barack Obama: "The whole issue of whether she knows world affairs or not, these are questions that were never asked of Barack Obama, never asked of him to this day." Smith angrily denied any such bias: "That's not true. That's not true...That's not true. That is absolutely not true...That is absolutely not true. Those -- all those questions have been asked over the last 19 months." However, Smith himself conducted eight interviews with Obama and only asked two foreign policy questions of the inexperienced Senator.
The stock market is casting a vote of "no confidence" in Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and his Republican opponent is missing an opportunity to slam the freshman senator for an economic agenda that is a rehash of the worst of Presidents Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.
So argued on-air editor Charles Gasparino in an October 13 op-ed in the New York Post, where the CNBC talent mentioned that even Obama's Wall Street backers are nervously telling him to change course on his economic plans (emphases mine):
Overall, his [Obama's] plan includes some of the most lethal tax increases imaginable, including a jump in the capital-gains rate. He'd expand government spending massively, with everything from new public-works projects to increases in foreign aid to a surge in Afghanistan - plus hand out a token $500 welfare check that he calls a tax cut to everyone else.
This is clearly the wrong way to go in the wake of an economic meltdown- yet Obama, for all his talk of how willing he is to compromise, of how he'd bring people together, is sticking to his tax guns.
I know at least one top Wall Street executive, an Obama supporter from the start of his campaign, who has recently urged Obama to rethink his tax plan - and that was before last week's record losses on the Dow.
There has been an unreality in the reports on the falling stock markets for at least the past 10 days. Each day's plunge seems to have been exclusively due to the "global economic crisis" and/or the supposed "freeze on credit."
Oddly enough, the admittedly small bank where I have my business accounts is having absolutely no problem funding mortgage, home-equity, and other loan applications from qualified borrowers -- a fact I confirmed just before posting this entry. With all due respect to the global business press, if there's truly a "freeze," how can that be?
I've put forth an alternative explanation to the media meme a couple of times this week myself, but an editorial at IBDeditorials.com yesterday brought out a major element of what I have been saying much more forcefully and articulately. Remarkably, though the possibility seems pretty obvious to me, and I suspect many others, I have seen no one in the business press covering daily market events even mention the obvious and quite likely alternative that follows.
The editorial, "Investors' Real Fear: A Socialist Tsunami," teases with the plaintive question, "What is it about the specter of our first socialist president and the end of capitalism as we know it that they don't understand?"
The Dow dropped 5,585 points since its high a year ago, banks have been afraid to lend and the government bought billions in toxic mortgage-backed securities. So CBS's "The Early Show" went to some top finance experts to explain what was happening to viewers, right? Nope, they went to kids, Oct. 10.
Weatherman Dave Price talked to fifth graders in Arlington, Va., about the credit crisis, exclaiming, "You wouldn't believe how much they know, sometimes we ought to listen to them and their solutions."
"What one thing does your mom waste money on?" Price asked one student.
"Mmm, smokes, I guess," a fifth grade girl from Glebe Elementary School replied.
Old Media's coverage of the recently-lifted executive and congressional bans on offshore exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas largely overlooked an important element that should have been very relevant to the discussion.
Supporters of lifting the bans surely share much of the blame for only rarely citing it. Though they have frequently noted the hundreds of billions of dollars a years annually sent overseas to pay for oil that could have been extracted here, they have mostly missed a golden opportunity to tell the American people what over a quarter-century of drilling bans has cost the government and taxpayers. They also generally failed to tell us about the windfall that awaits if the end of the offshore and other bans finally leads to appropriately aggressive use of this country's God-given resources.
But if we had inquisitive financial reporters in the business press who were interested in information relevant to the "Drill Baby Drill" debate instead of merely repackaging the press releases they received from those on both sides (the sole exception I found was this Wall Street Journal editorial), many more Americans would have long ago learned about what follows.
Sen. Barack Obama's campaign has put out three new ads in the last few days attacking Sen. John McCain's health care plan, two of which focus on the proposal of a tax credit.
The Obama campaign is telling viewers McCain will tax their health benefits. Sen. Joe Biden, Obama's running mate, told viewers of the October 2 debate the same thing. The mainstream media aren't correcting them.
The accusations are wrong. McCain is replacing one tax break with another - one that is much more generous and will be especially helpful to people who are uninsured.
Here's how McCain's plan works:
If you're insured through your employer: You already are getting a tax break - worth about $4,200 to the average American family. You don't see it because your health insurance - which is part of your compensation package - is tax-free.
McCain's tax credit of $5,000 for a family would replace this $4,200 break you're currently getting - and then some.
Ever since liberal media types felt robbed by the Bush-Quayle campaign’s "lies" about Michael Dukakis in 1988, we’ve been suffering through the media elite’s attempts to "police" the facts in advertisements. "Correction" squads are insisting that John McCain can’t say Barack Obama will raise taxes, no matter how much that announcing Democrats will raise taxes is like announcing the sun will rise.
In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle suggested Bill Clinton would raise taxes on the middle class. Quayle said in the vice presidential debate that everyone over $36,000 could face a tax hike. Media "experts" accused the GOP of mangling "facts." President Clinton was elected – and passed the largest tax increase in American history, right down to the middle class.
"It was Quayle who repeatedly twisted and misstated the facts," CNN reporter Brooks Jackson had pronounced after the vice presidential debate. On ABC, Jeff Greenfield proclaimed: "Independent examination of this charge by, for example, press organizations, has found it, to say the least, misleading."
"The View" co-hosts, who seemingly have difficulty understanding the Constitution, have demonstrated their lack of understanding in economics. Recapping Friday’s presidential debate on the September 29 edition of "The View," co-host Sherri Shepherd wondered how we can raise taxes. Whoopi Goldberg replied "it’s not going to happen. We are in too much financial trouble. We can’t."
A very brief lesson in economics will explain to the co-hosts that financial crisis may be the time to reduce taxes. It certainly is not the time to raise taxes as Herbert Hoover demonstrated possibly aggravating and prolonging the Great Depression. According to economist Art Laffer, in his theory "The Laffer Curve," sometimes reducing taxes can in fact generate more revenue. While the other "View" co-hosts fretted about taxes, Elisabeth Hasselbeck cited Barack Obama in possibly scaling back on extravagant spending promises.