At first I thought I might have stumbled across a document of some historical interest - an internal memo from the central planning committee of the Soviet Union ordering the apparatchiks to find a way to increase spending in a certain sector of the economy.
Turns out it was just an editorial from today's New York Times. Consumption by the middle-class isn't high enough to suit the Gray Lady's taste, or as it puts it: "There is no question that spending by the middle class has been weaker in the current economic expansion than in previous recoveries."
What really has the Times exercised is this: "In 2005, the top 20 percent of households made 39 percent of all consumer expenditures." Oh, the horror! How dare the most productive members of society, the ones who are creating most of the jobs for the other 80%, spend the most?
Saturday's CBS Evening News featured a story, filed by correspondent Sheila MacVicar, which highlighted the French government's policy of entitling all mothers to three years of paid maternity leave and subsidized child care as a way to increase the birth rate and thus provide more young taxpayers to pay for the pensions of the elderly. MacVicar pointed out that in America, "federal law entitles some working mothers to twelve weeks unpaid leave," before cautioning that "the rest get nothing."
MacVicar relayed that French women enjoy more benefits than their American counterparts: "Take a look at what all French families, regardless of income, are entitled to: Up to three years paid maternity leave with a guarantee that mom's job will be there for her when she returns. There's subsidized child care, a whole host of tax credits, and for baby number three brings twice the government allowance of baby number two." (Transcript follows)
What is it about leaving a network gig that makes news anchors even more biased? Ex-host Tom Brokaw told a "Harball" audience that Barack Obama is a "rock star," lavished praise on Jon Stewart, and claimed that Ronald Reagan neglected "Mother Earth."
Speaking of NBC stars who suck up to environmentalists, Matt Lauer recently encouraged Al Gore to run for president and "save the planet." Way to stay objective, Matt!
The "Today" anchor continued his global warming obsession in another segment, lauding actor Leonardo DiCaprio for "standing up to get people thinking" about the issue. (Funny, I don’t recall the "Today" host complimenting many pro-life activists for "standing up.")
Lobbying for global warming can be tiring work, as NewsBusters editor Matthew Sheffield noted when he pointed out that CNN host Miles O’Brien fell asleep during recent hearings on the subject.
This week, the "mainstream" media continued lobbying for a complete acknowledgment of total failure in Iraq. "Time" magazine likened the Iraq Study Report to a drug intervention. Discussing the same subject, "Hardball" guest host Mike Barnicle wondered if President Bush is "delusional," " isolated" or "stubborn." Those are certainly some great options to chose from!
Not an Onion article. I solemnly affirm to Scrappleface: New York Times columnist Judith Warner doesn't want social programs to be judged by how much they cost or whether they work.
Disclaimer notwithstanding, I bet you're still dubious. "Come on, Finkelstein - that can't be right. As liberal as the New York Times might be, there's no way one of its regular columnists would come right out and say that."
The particular government programs that Warner - the Times's family-issues maven - discusses in The Real Value of Public Preschool [subscription] are what she describes as "free" pre-school for three- and four-year olds. And here's what she says:
"I am finding the rhetoric in the debate over universal preschool disheartening. It’s all the usual stuff about cost-benefit and outcomes."
Cavuto elicited this stunningly out-of-touch statement from Krugman about the situation for the average person and the middle class that is obviously not true (excerpt is at the end of this Hot Air clip):
Cavuto: .... You're saying that it's somehow dramatically worse now than it was 10 years, 20 years ago? Krugman: It is dramatically worse now than it was 10 or 20 years ago.
Horse manure, Paul, and here's the proof. The figures below are from the Census Bureau, and show real (inflation-adjusted) income from 1985-2005 (bottom half of data at linked page):
ABC's George Stephanopoulos has shown that he's bi-partisan when it comes to advocating tax hikes. Before the election, he lectured Republican Senate candidate Stephen Laffey: "If the deficit continued to grow, it's not responsible to say you're never going to raise taxes." On Sunday, he pushed Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democratic candidate for President, to call for higher taxes on energy. Stephanopoulos contended that "just about every expert on energy says the best way to become energy independent is to raise the price of oil and gas, to have a serious energy tax. Why not call for it?" Stephanopoulos followed up by pointing to Europe as a model to emulate: "Couldn't we become independent much more quickly if we had the kind of energy tax you see in Europe?"
Well, we all love to jump on it when a lefty says something stupid, don't we? We should also point out when an ostensible Conservative news commentator says something ridiculous, too...
Now, I don't usually report what radio guys are doing or saying, not that I don't like them or that I find them somehow illegitimate, but because they have their own fora from which to make their waves and they can get their ideas out without my assistance. But, I do listen to several talkers and enjoy some of them, as well.
One of the talkers I like is Hugh Hewitt. He is the reason I have stepped up my blogging and why I started a Town-Hall blog, too. I find he is usually a Reagan styled conservative and I agree with him very often. So, when he says something I usually give it consideration.
Thanks to former President Clinton and victories in the recent midterm elections, Democrats are now launching a full out attack on Fox News, the only television news outlet that holds them accountable. Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) appeared on Wednesday’s The O’Reilly Factor to explain his recent attack on Fox News and once again lashed out on Bill O’Reilly when he issued him challenging questions. O’Reilly asked Congressman Frank what his position is on income redistribution.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA): "Bill, will you please stop interrupting if you want a serious discussion?"
Bill O’Reilly: "No. I'm not going to interrupt. When you say something dopey, I'm going point it out. What do you think you are, the czar of the interview?"
Appearing on the Monday edition of Comedy Central’s "Colbert Report," PBS host Jim Lehrer dismissed any hint of a liberal agenda, declaring himself "bias-free." The "NewsHour" anchor also indicated that the real problem is the distorted viewers, not slanted reporting:
Stephen Colbert: "Now, um, do you believe that you have a liberal bias?"
Jim Lehrer: "I know I do not have a liberal bias."
Colbert: "You know you have a liberal bias?"
Lehrer: "No. I do not have a liberal bias. I do not have--"
Colbert: "You don't have a liberal bias."
Lehrer:"I don't have a conservative bias either. I don't have any bias. I am bias-free."
Colbert, in his faux conservative tone, continued to press the PBS anchor, leading to Lehrer’s claim that the audience is at fault for perceiving bias:
Colbert: "Oh come on, come on now."
Lehrer: "No, no, no. Bias is what people who hear or read the news bring to the story not what the journalist brings to the reporting."
"We know you think Democrats are gonna raise taxes, but before they do, they'll cut yours."
That's essentially what CBS's Sharyl Attkisson was selling viewers of the November 14 "Evening News" with her story on Rep. Charlie Rangel's plan to reform the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
Attkisson showed Rangel complaining that the AMT soaks the middle class, so it should be reformed and taxes on "the rich" raised. She didn't ask him if that was a bad idea seeing as the AMT began in 1969 as a, well, soak-the-rich tax scheme. Over time it's crept into soaking the middle class, a much more politically unpalatable result of the law of unintended consequences.
Nowhere in her story did Attkisson suggest that Congress needs to rein in spending, nor did she include conservative critics who would remind audiences that Rangel voted for the Clinton tax hikes of 1993, but against the Bush tax cuts of 2001.
According to CNN’s Bill Schneider, Americans, hungry for change, have no problem with tax increasing Democrats. During Tuesday’s "Situation Room," the veteran reporter described a new poll that, according to him, demonstrated the confidence Americans have for the new Democratic majority. In the segment, he dismissed one of President Bush’s warnings this way:
Bill Schneider: "Despite President Bush's dire warnings, people don't think congressional Democrats will do anything to weaken national security. President Bush also warned-"
George Bush: "The Democrats are going to raise your taxes. No, I know they don't want you to know it."
Schneider: "Guess what? People know it but they voted for the Democrats anyway. Which means they must really want change. In the ‘USA Today’/Gallup poll, the number of Americans who call themselves Republicans is sharply down. But the number of Democrats hardly changed. More people are calling themselves independents. They're waiting to see what the Democrats deliver."
Rubin Urges Democrats to Raise Taxes to Reverse Budget Deficit
Interesting, in light of this in the Washington Post (HT Surly Don Surber; as an aside, I really have to wonder how this plays with the Democratic Underground/Daily Kos base):
Alternative Minimum Tax Targeted
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Democratic leaders this week vowed to make the alternative minimum tax a centerpiece of next year's budget debate, saying the levy threatens to unfairly increase tax bills for millions of middle-class families by the end of the decade.
So this week’s Time magazine has declared an end to Ronald Reagan’s conservative revolution? It wouldn’t be the first time — the fortune tellers at Time also saw the end of the “bankrupt” Reagan era back in 1993, after novice President Bill Clinton pleased Time’s writing staff by passing a budget that raised personal income tax rates and increased the tax on gasoline. Too bad the “return to the economic orthodoxy of balanced budgets” Time promised wasn’t achieved until voters put budget-cutting Republicans in charge of the House and Senate the following year 1994.
“Overturning the Reagan Era” screamed Time’s cover, which showed an upside-down image of President Reagan. The cover story, by Nancy Gibbs, showed Time’s obvious infatuation with liberals' concept of “fiscal responsibility,” namely, punish the private sector with tax rates high enough to pay for all of the fat government programs that Democrats can dream up (although Gibbs wished for even higher taxes, saying the ones Clinton and the last Democratic Congress pushed through "weren't very brave.").
Thanks, Bob Kuttner. You might doubt my sincerity. But really, I mean it. With Nancy AWOL, and Charley Rangel coyly claiming at his age he doesn't buy green bananas let alone speculate what he would do as Way & Means Chairman, perhaps Americans have lost sight of what the Dems have up their sleeve if they get back the majority. So in all sincerity, thanks for telling it like it is.
"We are about to get something all too rare in Democratic politics lately -- some progressive leadership . . . With a little gumption on the Democratic side, the lopsided distribution of wealth, security, and opportunity in America could come roaring back."
"American Morning" reporter Ali Velshi insinuated on Tuesday’s show that corporations favor the GOP partly because "Republicans have kept hourly wages" low:
Ali Velshi: "All right, no big secret that Big Business favors Republicans, or has traditionally favored Republicans. But with polls showing that their friends in high places might be in some trouble leading into this election, Big Business has decided to cozy up with the Democrats. Corporate America likes Republicans. For the most part, Republicans have kept hourly wages and taxes low, and they keep their hands out of business as much as possible. Republicans like corporate America, and its hefty donations."
So, apparently, in addition to attempting to "criminalize science," Republicans also are the party of low wages? Perhaps that should be on a bumper sticker somewhere. Also, do Democrats not like their "hefty donations" from trial lawyers?
I looked around when I heard someone crying, and there was Pollyanna bawling her eyes out. That's how depressing was the one-two punch of pessimism in Paul Krugman's and Bob Herbert's New York Times pay-to-peruse columns of today.
Just in time for the elections, the pair paint a picture of America so dreary you half-expected the Google logarithm to place Prozac ads on the page. Krugman tries to talk down the economy, while Herbert sees a more deep-seated malaise. Annotated excerpts:
Krugman: "Bursting Bubble Blues"
"The housing boom became a bubble . . . the question now is how much pain the bursting bubble will inflict." Guessing Krugman's answer: a lot.
"Some say the worst is already over . . . So maybe this is as bad as it gets. But I think the pessimists have a stronger case." Told you so!
The New Republic’s senior editor Jonathan Chait wrote an interesting op-ed on Sunday determined to prove that President Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 haven’t resulted in increased tax revenues (hat tip to Dave Pierre), while also attempting to make the case that tax hikes are better fiscal policy. The article’s title was “Bush’s Silly Budget Logic,” which is quite apropos given the fuzzy math and distorted recollection of history employed by the author: “There's no dispute among economists. Conservative, moderate or liberal, every credentialed economist agrees that the Bush tax cuts caused revenues to drop.”
Really? Well, let’s look at some of the facts first, shall we? For instance, according to the historical tables supplied by the Office of Management and Budget, tax receipts in FY 2003 were $1.783 trillion. The most recent estimate for FY 2006 is $2.402 trillion, a 35 percent increase. Simple, right?
Unfortunately, not for Chait who chose to represent an incomplete and misleading picture to his readers:
Those of us that study the economy and how it is reported by the drive-by media are constantly amazed by how those covering financial issues continually misrepresent statistics to advance their agenda. No finer recent example has occurred than on “The Chris Matthews Show” Sunday when the host bemoaned new highs set by the Dow Jones Industrial Average last week as not accurately reflecting what is going on in the economy.
In his final segment, Matthews actually had the nerve to state, “Eighty percent of the workforce finds their paycheck barely keeping up with inflation.” In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics just this past Wednesday released data indicating that the average American's real wage after adjusting for inflation has risen by 2.2 percent since September 2005 as reported by NewsBusters.
Matthews also referenced a recent Wall Street Journal poll suggesting:
In his “New Rules” segment on Friday night’s “Real Time”, host Bill Maher strongly attacked some of America’s leading conservatives, as well as right-wing think tanks for having been so wrong in their predictions about the Iraq war. Yet, in his rant against such entities and their inability to accurately forecast the future, Maher didn’t mention one liberal or left-leaning group that has been just as wrong about events crucial to Americans, including those that have been disseminating consistently bearish views about the economy in the midst of 20 straight quarters of growth (video to follow).
The NY Times editorializes this morning against the proposal by California congressman Richard Pombo to lower the federal royalty on oil-bearing shale, condemning it as "an extraordinary giveaway of federal revenue . . . and a huge incentive to wreak environmental damage." The Times apparently can't stand the thought of oil companies making a profit, even if in return we can significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. As the paper acknowledges, "the estimate of the petroleum locked up in these deposits is enormous: perhaps 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil."
I was dutifully working my way through Robert Kuttner's Boston Globe column of this morning, Cleaning Up the Mess, on the lookout for some outrageous MSM morsel with which to arouse NewsBusters readers.
But all I was getting were Kuttner's "on the one hand, but on the other hand" arguments as to whether it is in Democratic interests to retake one or both houses of Congress come November. His thesis is that America is such a mess thanks to years of Republican misrule that fixing it could be a thankless task for Dems, who might be better off waiting for the deluge of the 2008 presidential elections. For the record, Kuttner does come down on the side of taking power now.
Oops. Back in 2004, then-ABC White House correspondent Terry Moran argued President Bush’s tax cuts were building debt, not prosperity: “Most experts say that making those tax cuts permanent would cause gigantic deficits virtually as far as the eye can see.” Early last year, CBS’s Bob Schieffer suggested it would be impossible for the federal budget deficit to be cut in half before 2009 without raising taxes: “The government has just got to find some money to finance these programs.”
Well, the tax cuts haven’t been repealed, and there have been no big new tax increases. But yesterday the White House announced that final tallies for the federal government’s fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, the budget deficit had shrunk from $413 billion two years ago to $248 billion. The federal government collected $2.407 trillion in taxes in FY2006, $122 billion more than originally forecast back in February.
According to the Times, American houses of worship aren't rendering what is due Caesar.
The New York Times has put an ironic twist on the 8th Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal.” It’s accused churches nationwide of fleecing taxpayers and local governments using the First Amendment.
The Times devoted more than 17,000 words and a four-day series indicting religious groups for what it argued was essentially cheating taxpayers across the country. The pro-government, pro-regulation treatise by business reporter Diana B. Henriques was titled “In God's Name.”
A huge point has been virtually if not totally ignored since the announcement on Friday that the reported federal deficit for the fiscal year that ended a week ago was $250 billion -- The Bush Administration has done what it said it would do about the deficit three years ago, and has done it a full three years early, i.e., in half the time predicted.
This continues what has been a very difficult past few years have been for those who deride supply-side economics. If Washington, with a little help from the states, lets the supply-side engine continue to chug along for next several years, the results could be so positively stunning that it would become impossible for supply-side detractors in touch with any part of the real world to hang on to the comfort of their static-analysis fantasyland.
But first, let's recap what has happened in the past three fiscal years:
All three broadcast networks last night reported on the Dow record high, pointing to falling oil prices as a reason for the latest market rally.
But the market's been heading on an upward trend for years, throughout climbing oil prices and the media's persistent pessimism on the economy.
Of the three networks, I found CBS had the most negatively-slanted coverage, and NONE of the big three gave any thought to the Bush tax cuts being a catalyst for economic growth.
For my full story, check out the MRC's BusinessandMedia.org.
Here's an excerpt:
While CBS’s Anthony Mason offered qualified praise for the market’s recent rally, he sowed seeds of doubt about the market’s strength. Mason highlighted a retiree who “doesn’t trust this new rally” and then warned that “some Wall Street analysts see another bubble in the economy” with real estate.
The October 1 edition of ABC’s “World News Sunday” preached that the 51 houses of worship in Stafford, Texas are a holy terror to the city’s finances, citing the mayor’s complaints about lack of tax revenue. But reporter Geoff Morrell left out that the city has already enacted more regulation to discourage churches and that at that beginning of the year, the mayor gave a very positive assessment of the city’s finances.
Far from the negative tone Scarcella took in his appearance in Morrell’s story, neither the mayor’s 2006 State of the City Address nor his Fiscal Year 2005-2006 Budget Message warned of dangers to city revenue from too many houses of worship.
It's Bush's fault because he's not sending enough money to local governments.
He doesn't care about the uptick because the victims tend to be young black men.
Oh, and to heck with the Constitution.
There. That wraps it up nicely.
My favorite bit is Venocchi's approving citation of L.A. police chief William Bratton:
``The federal government has stepped back significantly from dealing with the issue of local crime. This administration in Washington clearly feels that local crime is an issue for local towns and municipalities."
If you read the lawsuit, you won't get to the gist of what the State of California really wants from the six car companies it sued over their alleged contribution to the state's alleged global-warming problem.
(Aside: part of me would LOOOOOVE for this suit to go forward, so that global warming arguments can be shredded in open court.)
Here is the "relief" the lawsuit (15-page PDF) requests:
The People request that this Court:
1. Hold each defendant jointly and severally liable for creating, contributing to, and
maintaining a public nuisance;
2. Award monetary damages according to proof;
3. Enter a declaratory judgment for such future monetary expenses and damages as may
be incurred by California in connection with the nuisance of global warming;
4. Award attorneys fees;
5. Award costs and expenses; and
6. Award such other relief as this Court deems just and proper.
That's pretty vague. But this BBC article on the suit has this interesting unattributed sentence about what the state is actually after, something I have not seen mentioned in any other article I read on the topic: