MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi tried to twist Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s remarks to NBC’s Today in March to claim that conservatives have a “fetish” about debt.
Filling in for the insufferable Chris Hayes on the Monday edition of MSNBC’s All In, Velshi inundated viewers with propaganda. He spewed that GOP leaders were “pretending that there’s just not enough money to help Americans. They say we cannot afford another large relief bill.” Still, he later levied a bizarre accusation that the GOP was “deceiving Americans” and conforming to a “conservative fetish about poor people getting freebies and running up the national debt.” [emphasis added.] Saying conservatives have a “fetish” about “running up the national debt” is like saying liberals have a “fetish” about tax cuts.
He continued his rant that Republicans are saying, “money doesn’t grow on trees.” Then Velshi took a detour into the absurd: “[H]ere’s the thing, it sort of does. That’s because we have a magical money tree with lots of money on it. We know this because we’ve seen it. It’s planted on Wall Street.” According to Velshi’s summary, “The head of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell said as much back in March at the start of the pandemic.“ But this is simply not the case.
To bolster his argument, Velshi deployed a video segment of Powell being interviewed by NBC News Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie. Guthrie had asked Velshi: “Is there any limit to the amount of money the Federal Reserve is willing to put into this economy to keep it afloat? Is it a blank check?” The video then cuts to Powell saying, “essentially the answer to your question is no.”
But a review of the actual transcript of Guthrie’s segment reveals that Powell’s answer appears to have been directed at Guthrie’s second question: “Is it a blank check?” How do we know? After Powell’s answer, Guthrie followed up with another question for clarification: “But so you’re saying, ‘No, it’s not a blank check,’ but yes, you’re prepared to spend an unprecedented amount.”
Powell clarified: “We certainly are. It’s not a blank check in the sense that we are limited by the ability to take losses.” [Emphasis added.] Powell wasn’t saying that the amount the Federal Reserve was willing to “put into this economy” was unlimited. He was saying that it wasn’t a “blank check,” which completely undermines Velshi’s “magical money tree” argument.
See the entire segment for context below:
The liberal Brookings Institution even addressed whether or not there was a “magical money tree.” Answering the question, “Does this mean the U.S. government can spend an unlimited amount of money?” Brookings stated, “No. There is only so much the government can borrow without raising interest rates and crowding out private investment. That would hurt economic growth.”
Velshi then spent the next few minutes spitting bile against congressional Republicans for not caring about the debt when they passed the 2017 tax cut. He claimed later that “a lot of us were screaming from the roofs that this is going to increase debt.” But according to The Heritage Foundation in its 2019 assessment of the national debt:
The main drivers of the national debt continue to be Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending. By 2049, the Congressional Budget Office projects that Medicare and Social Security will together contribute to three-quarters of the national debt.
Velshi even attacked President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders, which he called a “PR stunt.” He lambasted Trump’s order to suspend the payroll tax, which he claimed would “hurt Americans more than anything, because it takes money away from Social Security and Medicare.”
This is also misleading. According to liberal outlet Politifact, “While it’s true that the payroll tax provides nearly 90% of the revenues for Social Security, Congress could decide to use another way to pay for the program. The program’s promise to people exists outside of the funding mechanism.” The outlet rated the claim that “Killing the payroll tax means killing Social Security” as “Half-True.” But as the Yiddish proverb goes, “A half truth is a whole lie.”
Contact MSNBC Media Relations Senior Director Lorie Acio at firstname.lastname@example.org and demand Velshi go on air and correct the record about Federal Reserve Chairman Powell’s comments.