From the April 1 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Conservative media are again using a European financial crisis to stoke fears about the U.S. economy.
According to many right-wing media figures, the Cypriot government's plan to tax private bank accounts to avert a fiscal disaster provides a dire warning for the U.S. Many have speculated or outright claimed that the same could happen here unless the so-called "debt crisis" is averted
Of course, fears of heavy taxation on private bank accounts occurring in the U.S. are largely unfounded, with many experts noting the comparison between the two countries is ill-conceived. But the facts rarely matter for right-wing media when it comes to exploiting a European crisis.
The Wall Street Journal has repeatedly supported the conservative call for states to cut income taxes in order to foster economic growth, ignoring a large body of evidence that shows cutting or eliminating income taxes is economically damaging.
In recent months, The Wall Street Journal has published opinion pieces in support of Republican governors' push to reduce or eliminate state income taxes.
A January 30 editorial claimed that eliminating state incomes taxes "makes sense," arguing that it would spur economic growth and bolster state revenues. Economist Art Laffer and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore reiterated that thinking in a March 28 opinion piece titled "The Red-State Path to Prosperity," which argues for - among other measures - "pro-growth tax reform" that hinges upon a reduced reliance on income taxes.
Both pieces ostensibly rely on research conducted by the corporate-funded, right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Both Laffer and Moore have published research jointly with ALEC, and the January 30 editorial directly references Laffer's ALEC research. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), ALEC's studies on state-based tax reform are heavily biased toward states with low taxes and often do not comport with broader research findings:
ALEC's studies and reports claim that its agenda would boost economic growth and create jobs, but they are disconnected from a wide body of peer-reviewed academic research on public finance.
In addition, the preponderance of mainstream research refutes core elements of ALEC's argument, showing that state tax cuts or lower state taxes generally do not boost the economy, state tax cuts do not pay for themselves in the form of higher economic growth that generates more revenues, progressive taxes and corporate taxes do not inherently damage the economy, and taxes generally do not cause people to flee a state. (emphasis added)
Indeed, a recent review conducted by CBPP reinforces the lack of validity in ALEC and WSJ's claims -- of the eight peer-reviewed studies on the effect of state-level personal income taxes on the economy since 2000, six have found insignificant effects, and one had internally inconsistent results. CBPP also found that in states that cut taxes the most in the 1990s, average annual job growth fell far below the national average in the following economic cycle.
Fox Business host John Stossel is dismissing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on plastic foam containers by claiming the containers are "not so bad" for the environment. But the non-recyclable containers pose health and environmental risks and impose significant costs on the city.
On Thursday's edition of Fox and Friends, Stossel said that we need not worry about waste from the plastic foam containers colloquially called "Styrofoam" because "we're not running out of landfills":
But shifting from products that end up in landfills to products that can be recycled can save the city money, and the health and environmental risks of Styrofoam are indeed "bad."
Using recyclable products rather than Styrofoam saves the city money. Even if there is room for more landfills, as Stossel claims, it will be cheaper for the city if recyclable products replace Styrofoam containers. The Associated Press reported:
It costs the city an average of $86 per ton to landfill some 2 million tons of garbage a year; by contrast, the city nets a payment of at least $10 a ton for recycling paper and about $14 a ton for recycling glass and plastic, [New York City's head of recycling, Ron] Gonen said.
Reuters added that Styrofoam imposes costs on the city's recycling program:
An estimated 20,000 tons of Styrofoam enter the city's waste stream each year, and it can add an estimated $20 per ton to the cost of recycling because it needs to be removed from the recycling stream, the city said.
The largest single source of trash, or municipal solid waste (MSW), is containers and packaging, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
As around 70 percent of paper and steel containers, and over a third of aluminum and glass containers are recycled, replacing Styrofoam containers with these alternatives could save the city significant amounts of money.
Styrofoam can leach chemicals that are likely cancerous. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has listed styrene as a likely human carcinogen. Polystyrene, the technical name of Styrofoam, can leach this chemical into foods, according to the NIH:
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly endorsed the idea that the state confiscation of money from private bank accounts currently underway in Cyprus is likely to come to America, agreeing with a viewer's suggestion that "California will be America's Cyprus." His fearmongering is based on misrepresentations about how debt works in general, and about California's budgeting realities specifically.
According to O'Reilly, California will inevitably default on its debt, and when that happens the state will simply start taking private property from Californians to settle up what it owes. From the March 27 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
But debt does not work the way O'Reilly suggests. California can continue to service its debt, avoiding default even without reducing the principal amount owed, provided it stabilizes its debt levels. And it's doing exactly that, with a projected surplus in the current fiscal year after a combination of steep spending cuts and significant tax increases. Standard & Poor's upgraded the state's debt as a result, which should help further reduce the state's cost of borrowing (which is already half of what it was when Gov. Jerry Brown took office in 2011).
Furthermore, according to CNNMoney, "California should have enough money next year to increase funding for education and pay down debt, while setting aside $1 billion in a reserve fund." O'Reilly failed to mention the state's recent, hard-won fiscal discipline, which belies his portrayal of the state's fiscal outlook.
The Cyprus comparison would remain ludicrous even if California were not exhibiting increased fiscal health, as former Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chair Sheila Bair has explained that such an arrangement "would never happen in the U.S. because we respect the rule of law and we have a strong agency called the [FDIC] that stands up for insured depositors and protects them." But O'Reilly's factual errors served an additional purpose that's common in the right-wing media.
O'Reilly used the Cyprus fearmongering as a pivot to familiar falsehoods about the origins of California's debt. As Media Matters has repeatedly shown, the state's red ink stems not from union greed, but from budget laws that tie legislators' hands and ballot measures that simultaneously depressed tax revenue and increased the state's obligations. The conservative media's misdirection of blame for fiscal issues almost always ignores the cyclical, recession-driven nature of those balance sheet problems. But O'Reilly went further, ignoring the widely-reported end of Californian deficits to advance the same old canards about public finances.
Right-wing media are claiming that the federal government spent money on research grants and other expenses for puppets during the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, despite the fact that the grants were all paid prior to the budget cuts.
On Wednesday, Breitbart.com attacked the administration for stopping tours of the White House as a result of budget cuts in a post titled "U.S. Spends $1.18 Million On Puppets Amid Sequester," and claimed the government could "cut federal 'puppet expenditures' to keep the people's house open." The website listed spending from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among other sources, as federal spending on "puppets and puppetry-related expenses."
Fox Nation hyped the Breitbart.com post, labeling it a "report":
Fox & Friends joined in on Thursday when co-host Steve Doocy said: "1.18 million, that's how much the government has spent on puppets since 2009. That's enough to pay for more than a year's worth of White House tours."
However, the grants and contracts that Breitbart.com cited were all paid prior to 2013. A screenshot of the search terms used by Breitbart.com reveals the most recent grants were paid in fiscal year 2012, which ended on September 30, 2012. Sequestration took place on March 1, 2013, almost six months later.
Despite the claims of Fox News and Breitbart.com, these expenditures have nothing to do with the cancelation of White House tours. The spending cited by Breitbart.com did not come out of the budget of the Secret Service, which made the decision to stop providing security for the tours due to its own budget cuts under the sequester.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has a long and documented history of pushing economic misinformation on his program, reinforced recently by economist Richard Wolff who said O'Reilly's claims about the economy are false.
On the March 25 edition of the independently syndicated Democracy Now!, former University of Massachusetts, Amherst economics professor Richard Wolff responded to O'Reilly's claim that European countries are going bankrupt because they are "nanny states," stating:
WOLFF: You know, he gets away with saying things which no undergraduate in the United States with a responsible economics professor could ever get away with. If you want to refer to things as "nanny states" then the place you go in Europe is not the southern tier -- Portugal, Spain, and Italy -- the place you go are Germany and Scandinavia because they provide more social services to their people than anybody else. And guess what? Not only are they not in trouble economically, they are the winners of the current situation.
[O'Reilly's] just making it up as he goes along to conform to an ideological position that is harder and harder for folks like him to sustain, so he has to reach further and further into fantasy.
O'Reilly's misinformation on economic issues, however, is not just contained to commenting on the European experience. Here are 10 other examples of O'Reilly's failure to accurately understand economics:
10. O'Reilly Falsely Compared The U.S. Debt Situation With That Of Greece. In an effort to force Congress to enact deep spending cuts, O'Reilly claimed that "like Greece, Ireland, and Spain...the USA has bankrupted itself." However, economists agree that the U.S.-Greece comparison is misguided and ignores the structure of the countries' economies.
9. O'Reilly Dismissed The Recession's Effect On Gas Prices. O'Reilly expressed doubt over the economic downturn's effect on gas prices, claiming that President Obama's explanation for low gas prices was "totally bogus." In reality, gas prices dropped precipitously during the recession, a fact that many news outlets -- including Fox -- reported at the time.
8. O'Reilly Claimed That Food Stamps Have No Economic Value. In a discussion about President Obama's stimulus bill, O'Reilly claimed that increasing spending on food stamps has "nothing to do with stimulating the economy." However, economists largely disagree, and studies have indicated that food stamps are among the most stimulative of government programs.
7. O'Reilly Suggested Bush Tax Cuts Increased Revenue. In an interview with former President Clinton, O'Reilly claimed that because of "the tax cuts under Bush, more money flowed into the federal government." However, when tax revenues are expressed as a share of the economy, the Bush tax cuts resulted in the lowest level in any decade since the 1950s, a fact noted by many economists.
6. O'Reilly Dismissed The Causes Of Income Inequality. In a discussion with Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers, O'Reilly brushed aside income inequality, claiming, "Income inequality is bull. Nobody gives you anything, you earn it." However, O'Reilly's statements ignored the fact that, at the time he said them, taxes on top income earners are at historic lows, and that, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "typical middle-class households face higher rates than some high-income households."
5. O'Reilly Blamed Undocumented Immigrants For California's Budget Problems. In a segment on California's budgetary problems, O'Reilly claimed that an "enormous amount of money" was being spent on the "illegal alien problem." However, O'Reilly ignored that fact that a majority of undocumented immigrants pay taxes, and that granting them legal status could have a positive impact on the economy.
4. O'Reilly Repeatedly Suggested That "Irresponsible Behavior And Laziness" Cause Poverty. O'Reilly has consistently characterized the poor as "lazy" and "irresponsible," ignoring the consequences of the recent economic downturn and the rise in income inequality in recent decades.
3. O'Reilly Claimed That The Economy "Would Be Fine" If We Cut Spending To 2008 Levels. In a segment discussing sequestration, O'Reilly called for a rollback in spending to 2008 levels, claiming that the economy "would be fine" if spending was cut to that level. However, this proposal that has been repeatedly criticized by economists as economically dangerous, costing as many as 590,000 jobs.
2. O'Reilly Claimed That The Stimulus Was A Failure. O'Reilly has repeatedly stated that President Obama's stimulus package was a failure, ignoring the fact that, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it increased employment by over 1 million jobs and raised GDP by between 0.8 and 2.5 percent.
1. O'Reilly Repeatedly Claimed That Economy Is Worse Off Than It Was When Obama First Took Office. O'Reilly has consistently stated that the Obama administration's policies are hurting the economy, even going so far as to claim that it is worse off than it was prior to Obama's first inauguration. However, by almost every measure of economic health, including unemployment, net job creation, and GDP, the economy has improved greatly since 2009.
A Fox News host dismissed the threat of furloughs from automatic budget cuts known as sequestration as a "convenient excuse" that allows agency heads to exaggerate the effects of the cuts. However, hundreds of workers have already been laid off due to the budget cuts and more are likely to be fired or furloughed if the cuts continue.
ICE director John Morton faced criticism From Republicans during a House hearing on Tuesday where he testified about the budget decisions ICE made to avoid furloughs. Fox & Friends host Alisyn Camerota dismissed Morton's explanation of his difficult choices as a "handy and convenient excuse," and downplayed the threat of furloughs and layoffs:
This is just what you constantly hear now with sequester. It's either this or furlough. It's either this or laying off. We don't want to take money out of the pockets of workers, and that is a handy and convenient excuse when, you know, you end up not cutting something that people think is expendable.
But local reports from around the country demonstrate that many Americans are already dealing with the serious repercussions of sequestration. Thousands of workers face pay cuts as high as 20% as a result of sequester-induced forced time off, or furloughs. Many more have already experienced layoffs. Citing other news reports, the Huffington Post highlighted several examples of layoffs and furloughs around the country:
On Monday, 250 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state received pink slips, while another 2,500 others found out they're facing furloughs. Approximately 9,000 people work at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site, and the Associated Press reports that "cleanup is likely to be slowed" because of the budget cuts.
Continental Maritime, a contractor that repairs U.S. Navy ships, expects to lay off 185 employees, effective April 12. Other contractors have issued conditional layoff notices -- meaning that jobs are safe if Congress restores some funding to the Defense Department -- to thousands of employees.
Four-hundred eighteen contract workers tied to the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania are losing their jobs due to sequestration. Two-hundred sixteen people will be dismissed on April 15 and 107 on April 30, the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., reports. The paper noted that the Tobyhanna Army Depot is losing 35 percent -- $309 million -- of its government funding through the end of the fiscal year, and that more than 5,100 of the people who work there are being forced to take 22 furlough days.
At least eight municipal employees in Monterey County, Calif., are losing their jobs as a result of a decrease in the number of military contracts.
In early March, 23 people who work with the parks and recreation and maintenance departments in Tooele County, Utah, were laid off in order to grapple with the federal budget cuts. "I have four kids. This is my livelihood," said Scott Chance, a 12-year employee. "It pays my health insurance. It gives me my house."
Engineering Services Network is an engineering and technology company and one of the top Latino-owned companies in Virginia. President and CEO Raymond Lopez Jr. told NBC Latino that he has "lost about 20 employeesthrough sequestration."
The Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, announced in February that it was cutting 414 jobs -- about 10 percent of its workforce. "I don't know how we're going to make it," Raymond Wyrick, whose last day was scheduled to be March 9, told CNN Money.
Media figures have repeatedly forwarded the notion that the United States is currently facing a debt crisis. However, leaders of both parties agree there is no immediate crisis, and by focusing attention too heavily on deficit and debt reduction, the media distract from the more imminent problem of growth and jobs.
Throughout news coverage of recent budget negotiations, media figures have consistently framed discussions around the notion that the country faces a debt crisis, an assertion that is often presented uncritically and accepted as an indisputable fact. Since discussions are predicated on the assumption that a debt crisis exists, ensuing analysis of budget proposals is often solely focused on how far they go in reducing short term deficits and debt.
While media are convinced that a debt crisis exists, leaders of both parties have made explicit statements to the contrary. In a March 12 interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, President Obama claimed that "we don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt," a statement that was immediately criticized by conservative media. When asked if he agreed with Obama's statement regarding debt on the March 17 edition of ABC's This Week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) conceded that there is no immediate crisis. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) made a similar admission on CBS' Face the Nation, saying "we do not have a debt crisis right now."
Furthermore, the media's focus on a "debt crisis" has necessarily steered the debate about budgets toward how the parties will sufficiently address short term deficits. Economists, meanwhile, have repeatedly argued that undue focus on deficits and debt distracts from the more pressing need for economic growth and reduced unemployment.
The bipartisan admission that there is no immediate debt crisis provides media with an opportunity to reframe their budget negotiations coverage around economic growth.
Video by Alan Pyke.
Fox News reporter Kelly Wright used a partial quote from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to paper over Ryan's acknowledgment that debt levels are stable for the near term, misrepresenting the debt conflict between President Obama and House Republicans.
On the March 17 edition of CBS News' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer asked Ryan about an interview Obama had previously given to ABC News, in which he observed that "we don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt." Ryan conceded to Schieffer that "we don't have a debt crisis right now," going on to explain that Republicans differ with the president on how to handle the prospective crisis. From the March 17 edition of Face the Nation:
RYAN: To borrow a phrase from my friend Erskine Bowles and the fiscal commission, we're the healthiest looking horse in the glue factory. That means America is still a step ahead of the European nations who are confronting a debt crisis of Japan that's in its second lost decade. It's partly because of our resilient economy, our world currency status. So we do not have a debt crisis right now, but we see it coming, we know it's irrefutably happening. And the point we're trying to make in our budget is let's get ahead of this problem. Look we know that in a debt crisis you pull the rug out from under people living on the safety net, you cut seniors in retirement. This is what we're trying to avoid. The purpose of having a reasonable balanced budget like we're proposing is let's prevent a debt crisis from happening in the first place. If we keep kicking the can down the road, if we follow the president's lead or if we pass the Senate budget, then we will have a debt crisis. Then everybody gets hurt. You know who gets hurt first and the worst in a debt crisis? The poor and the elderly. That's what we're trying to prevent from happening. Pro-growth economic policies to get people working, to bring in more revenue, and get the entitlement system under control so it doesn't go bankrupt so people can seriously plan for the promises that government has made for them in retirement. That's what we're saying, is, let's prevent a debt crisis from happening, we know it's coming, this budget does that.
In the lead segment of the March 18 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, however, Wright excised Ryan's agreement with the president. After stating that despite Obama's "charm offensive," Republicans "remain skeptical about the president's sincerity," Wright offered a misleading paraphrase of Ryan's comments that implied that Obama's 'no immediate crisis' observation was a stumbling block in negotiations, rather than a point of common ground.
WRIGHT: But some Republicans remain skeptical about the president's sincerity. Congressman Paul Ryan, who we just heard from, expressed doubts after the president's recent comment that America is not in an immediate debt crisis. Ryan contends that America is teetering on the edge of a crisis, and that it will have serious repercussions.
[RYAN CLIP:] You know who gets hurt first and the worst in a debt crisis? The poor and the elderly. That's what we're trying to prevent from happening. Pro-growth economic policies to get people working, to bring in more revenue, and get the entitlement system under control so it doesn't go bankrupt so people can seriously plan for the promises that government has made for them in retirement. That's what we're saying, is, let's prevent a debt crisis from happening, we know it's coming, this budget does that.
This heavy truncation of Ryan's quote suggests disagreement where there is none: Both Ryan and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) agreed with the president's assessment that any crisis is not immediate. That's because debt levels are stable in the near term, a fact straight from the Congressional Budget Office. The White House and the congressional GOP dispute the proper policy response to these non-immediate, middle-distance fiscal issues, but the president's "immediate crisis" comments are not controversial.
President Obama and congressional Republicans agree about the importance of debt reduction, but dispute the timeline and architecture of that reduction. Ryan's belief that America is merely "the healthiest horse in the glue factory" may be misguided, but it is much more informative for fiscal debate watchers than Fox's focus on a ginned-up disagreement that Ryan and Boehner have already rejected.
Lou Dobbs promoted the GOP attack that the Senate Democrats' proposed federal budget raises taxes by $1.5 trillion, a claim based on "a willful misreading" of the budget.
In the "chalk talk" segment of his Fox Business show, Dobbs claimed the Senate Democrats' budget demonstrated that "they want us to be a debtor nation in perpetuity." Dobbs argued that in addition to the $975 billion of revenue Democrats include in their budget, they would need to add $500 billion in additional revenue to pay for the cost of the sequestration." Dobbs added the two to claim that the Democrats' budget actually calls for $1.5 trillion in new taxes:
But, as Talking Points Memo noted, the claim -- which has been touted by Senate Republicans -- is based on an "attempt to turn sequestration's spending cuts into a permanently lower spending baseline, and thus a willful misreading of the Democratic budget itself." TPM's Brian Beutler explained that a portion of the $975 billion in revenue is already earmarked to cover sequestration, meaning the additional $500 billion of alleged new taxes that Dobbs and Senate Republicans are adding to the revenue estimates doesn't exist:
Republicans have decided to torture the numbers. First, they assume a baseline Democrats aren't actually using -- one where sequestration-level spending is permanent. Not a tricky move by itself. The tricky part comes next.
They reason that if Democrats are actually proposing to reduce deficits by $1.85 trillion, then the nearly $500 billion in tax revenues they dedicate to paying down sequestration (and another $100 billion in spending they dedicate to financing a new jobs proposal) would have to come on top of the $975 billion of tax increases the budget explicitly calls for.
In other words, Democrats want to raise $975 billion in new tax revenue and use some of it to turn off sequestration. Instead of accepting this, Republicans are claiming -- falsely -- that the revenue for paying down sequestration is in addition to the $975 billion. It is not.
The Washington Post's editorial board has adopted the right-wing fixation on the interruption of White House tours while ignoring cuts to critical services in both of its sequester-related editorials since cuts took effect on March 1. The first lauded the decrease in federal support for remote, small-town airports while the second decried the halted tours on Pennsylvania Avenue -- odd priorities for outrage given the devastating effects sequester cuts are having on basic government services like paving roads and caring for seniors, the unemployed, and schoolchildren.
In its most recent editorial, the Post described the cancellation of White House tours as "bureaucratic hostage-taking," and opined that the media backlash against the Obama administration was "proper comeuppance":
The popular tours have been suspended indefinitely as part of the response to the so-called sequester that went into effect March 1, mandating across-the-board spending cuts of $85 billion. The decision - coming just as Washington readies for the busy part of its tourist season, when cherry blossoms bloom and school groups on spring break descend on the nation's capital - prompted an immediate outcry.
Administration officials, The Post's David Nakamura reported, said the decision was made by the Secret Service, which estimated that ending the tours would save $74,000 in weekly overtime costs. Why overtime is needed for the self-guided tours that are plotted out with plenty of advance notice is anybody's guess. But even accepting the explanation by a Secret Service spokesman that the decision involved a broader reassignment of officers to minimize furloughs, is the $2 million that's estimated to be saved through September really worth the price of shutting Americans out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?
The Post's criticism ignores the plethora of budget cuts to critical government services that have taken effect since March 1. While the paper's news coverage has reflected the harm these cuts have on the country's most vulnerable populations, the editorial board has turned a blind eye to them.
The Post isn't the only media outlet focusing on White House tours in the wake of sequestration. As ThinkProgress pointed out, major cable news networks like Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC have mentioned the tour cancellations 33 times as often as other effects.
Meanwhile, regional newspapers have picked up on some of these real sequester impacts overlooked by many national media outlets: cuts like reductions in military tuition assistance, decreased funding for volunteer programs like VISTA and Americorps, and slashes in healthcare spending.
Local officials from across the country are in the Post's backyard this week, lobbying Congress to pay attention to the devastation being wrought on municipal governments' ability to provide basic services like paving sidewalks, mitigating damage from natural disasters, and providing school lunches to students.
When will the Post's editorial pages accurately reflect the effects of the sequester storm?
Right-wing media fabricated a split between White House press secretary Jay Carney and President Obama on the reason for White House tour cancelations, ignoring the fact that both explained that the tours were cancelled because of the impact of automatic budget cuts on the Secret Service.
During a March 13 White House afternoon press conference, Carney explained that tours of the White House were cancelled because the Secret Service decided to cut security on the tours to spare their agents further furloughs due to automatic budget cuts known as sequestration (emphasis added):
CARNEY: We had to cancel the tours. It's our job to cancel the tours. They cannot cancel them so -- because we run -- this is not a tour of the Secret Service building. It's a tour of the White House and the grounds. And we run the tours and invitations and that process. So the White House, as we have said, canceled the tours, confronted with the choice made by the Secret Service -- which we concur with, but it is certainly their choice because it's their budget -- that it was the right thing to do not to add further furloughs to the future for Secret Service agents, the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect senior officials in our government, and that the result would be cutbacks in staffing, hours in an area like tours, which is so labor-intensive.
Carney's statement echoed the remarks made by Obama on this topic during an ABC news interview aired the morning of March 13 (emphasis added):
OBAMA: You know, I have to say this was not- a decision that went up to the White House. But th- what the Secret Service explained to us was that they're gonna have to furlough some folks. What furloughs mean is- is that people lose a day of work and a day of pay.
And, you know, the question for them is, you know, how deeply do they have to furlough their staff and is it worth it to make sure that we've got White House tours that means that you got a whole bunch of families who are depending on a paycheck who suddenly are seein'-
Despite the consistency of Carney and Obama both explaining that the Secret Service made the choice to pull back on White House tour security to avoid more furloughs, right-wing media latched onto Carney's remarks and claimed that he broke from Obama's explanation.
Based on Carney's and Obama's remarks, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed on March 14 that they "need to get on the same page" regarding the cancelation of White House tours.
On March 13, Rush Limbaugh claimed that Carney's comments proved Obama "lied" about the reason for the White House tour cancelation, saying that while "some say it's unseemly to accuse a president of lying, and it may be unseemly. People don't want to believe that, but that's exactly what happened here."
Fox News ignored the facts on food stamps to praise Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) proposed budget for supposedly returning work requirements and time limits to the program, and for adding measures aimed at reducing food stamp enrollment. In reality, the food stamp program already requires work and has time limits for benefits, and enrollment in the program is projected to decline as the economy improves.
On March 12, Ryan released a budget proposal that called for giving states block grants of funds for food stamps -- known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and for "time limits and work requirements" for SNAP participants to be implemented over time.
Fox Business host Stuart Varney praised the Ryan budget's changes to SNAP, particularly for resolving problems Varney mistakenly thought existed with the program, including the lack of a work requirement and time limits for benefits and keeping people in poverty. Varney made the following claims on Fox & Friends the day after Ryan released his budget:
VARNEY: Here's what Paul Ryan wants to do. Number one, he wants to return the work requirement and the time limit. In other words, you can't just sit back take the food forever. Can't do that. Got to get out there and work for it. Number two, he would give block grants to the States. And say here, you run the food stamp program. Here's how much money you're going to get and here's what -- do with it what you like. I think, number three, most important, he would return morality to the food stamp program because he would use it as a way to get people out of poverty as opposed to locking them in. I think that's a very moral position to take.
Contrary to Varney's claims, SNAP already has a work requirement and a time limit. The United States Department of Agriculture's website explained that those who are:
[B]etween 18 and 50 who do not have any dependent children can get SNAP benefits only for 3 months in a 36-month period if they do not work or participate in a workfare or employment and training program other than job search. This requirement is waived in some locations.
With some exceptions, able-bodied adults between 16 and 60 must register for work, accept suitable employment, and take part in an employment and training program to which they are referred by the SNAP office. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in disqualification from the Program.
SNAP also contains measures to incentivize work and seek higher incomes. A recent Center on Budget Policy and Priorities (CBPP) report explained that:
For every additional dollar a SNAP recipient earns, her benefits decline by only 24 to 36 cents -- much less than in most other programs. Families that receive SNAP thus have a strong incentive to work longer hours or to search for better-paying employment.
Furthermore, an April 2012 Congressional Budget Office report found that SNAP participation will decline in the next decade as the economy improves:
SNAP participants are mostly low-income workers, children, and seniors. According to the CBPP report, the majority of non-disabled adult participants have a job. The CBPP added that nearly "70 percent of SNAP participants are not expected to work, primarily because they are children, elderly, or disabled."
Finally, SNAP helps keep people out of poverty. The CBPP found that the program "kept 4.7 million people out of poverty in 2011, including 2.1 million children" and that it "lifted 1.5 million children above 50 percent of the poverty line in 2011, more than any other benefit program."