Fox Promotes Romney Speech To Push False Job Loss Attack

Blog ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

Fox's John Roberts cited a speech from Mitt Romney to promote the false claim that September's drop in the unemployment rate is due to people dropping out of the workforce.

On America Live this afternoon, Fox News correspondent John Roberts reported that Romney reacted to the jobs report this morning by calling it "not what a real recovery looks like" because "the only reason why the unemployment figure has dropped" is "because so many people have dropped out of the workforce":

But Roberts promoted Romney's supposed comment without pointing out that it's wrong. In fact, in its report this morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that the labor force rose by more than 400,000 people:

Total employment rose by 873,000 in September, following 3 months of little change. The employment-population ratio increased by 0.4 percentage point to 58.7 percent, after edging down in the prior 2 months. The overall trend in the employment-population ratio for this year has been flat. The civilian labor force rose by 418,000 to 155.1 million in September, while the labor force participation rate was little changed at 63.6 percent.

Roberts then promoted Romney's attack on President Obama's plan to allow the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Roberts cited Romney to say "there's a lot of small businesses that would include themselves in that tax bracket, that they would get hit with that tax increase and that could cost as many as 700,000 jobs."

But economists have consistently shot down this claim, noting that the vast majority of small businesses would be unaffected. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation stated in June that only 3.5 percent of taxpayers with "net positive business income" would face a higher tax rate. In the Washington Post, tax expert William Gale wrote:

If, as proposed, the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire for the highest earners, the vast majority of small businesses will be unaffected. Less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income are filed by taxpayers in the top two income brackets -- individuals earning more than about $170,000 a year and families earning more than about $210,000 a year. 

And just as most small businesses aren't owned by people in the top income brackets, most people in the top income brackets don't rely mainly on small-business income: According to the Tax Policy Center, such proceeds make up a majority of income for about 40 percent of households in the top income bracket and a third of households in the second-highest bracket. If the objective is to help small businesses, continuing the Bush tax cuts on high-income taxpayers isn't the way to go -- it would miss more than 98 percent of small-business owners and would primarily help people who don't make most of their money off those businesses.

Romney's actual comments on the labor force are in question. Buzzfeed reporter Zeke Miller, after initially tweeting that Romney was reacting to this morning's report, later clarified that Romney may have been referring to a trend over the previous year. In his post, Miller also added an update saying that a Romney aide later claimed the candidate was referring to the labor force participation rate, a different measure of the labor force which also increased slightly in today's report. Regardless of what Romney was referring to, Roberts' report was inaccurate.

Posted In
Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
John Roberts
Show/Publication
America Live
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