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  • Right-Wing Economist Steve Moore Pushes Trump Tax Plan In Hypocritical USA Today Op-Ed

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Conservative economist Stephen Moore lambasted President Obama’s performance on the economy -- claiming the Obama administration accumulated too much debt and generated too little economic growth -- in an op-ed championing Donald Trump’s plan to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations, which will drive up even more debt and is virtually guaranteed not to grow the economy.

    Moore claimed in a May 10 op-ed published by USA Today that Donald Trump's tax plan is "designed to supercharge growth" and break with years of supposedly lackluster "Obamanomics." He chided Obama for presiding over "the weakest economic recovery in 75 years" and accumulating "almost $8 trillion" in national debt, even though the annual deficit has actually been decreasing since 2011, the unemployment rate has been cut in half since the president’s first year in office, and the economy has created 14.2 million jobs since the labor market bottomed out in early 2010. From USA Today:

    It’s no mystery why. Obamanomics has given us the weakest economic recovery in 75 years. Wages are flat or falling for all but those in the top 10%. And our national debt has risen by almost $8 trillion in seven years.

    [...]

    The Trump tax plan is designed to supercharge growth, much like President Kennedy did in the 1960s and President Reagan did in the boom years of the 1980s with their tax reductions.

    [...]

    The biggest deficit we need to urgently fix is our growth deficit. We must pump up our GDP growth from the anemic 1% rate of Obama’s past six months up to a sustained 4% under Trump. Just 2% faster growth reduces our budget deficit over a decade by more than $5 trillion.

    Liberal economists pout that this growth is impossible for America, but that’s what people said in the miserable 1970s. Reagan (and JFK before him) proved that with the right policy incentives that get government off the back of business, a new era of prosperity is just around the corner.

    Moore advocated for Trump’s tax plan as an alternative to Obama’s economic record, a plan that even the most generous estimates show will produce larger budget deficits and greater debt accumulation than witnessed during the Obama administration. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC) and the conservative Tax Foundation each scored Trump’s tax plan and found that it would explode the deficit by $9 to $12 trillion over the next decade, on top of $9.4 trillion in projected deficits at current spending levels. The Tax Foundation’s analysis further claimed that Trump’s tax plan would boost investment and wage growth while creating up to 5.3 million new jobs, but those figures come from a so-called “dynamic” scoring model that has been criticized for overestimating the stimulative value of tax cuts.

    Moore’s claim that Trump’s tax plan would create 4 percent economic growth is reminiscent of claims by failed Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, which experts quickly dismissed as “nonsense” and “wizardry.” According to a September 2014 report from the Brookings Institution, tax cuts do not necessarily create economic growth and they can even discourage growth by undermining economic incentives to invest. A September 2012 report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which was suppressed by Senate Republicans, similarly found no correlation between tax cuts and economic growth, but it did caution that tax cuts for high-income individuals “appear to be associated” with rising inequality.

    Moore has a long and well-documented history of distorting facts on the economy. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has spent years documenting Moore's repeated failures in economic policy, recently slammed the right-wing commentator’s "impressive lack of even minimal technical competence."

  • An Extensive Guide To The Fact Checks, Debunks, And Criticisms Of Trump’s Various Problematic Policy Proposals

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY & JARED HOLT

    Over the course of the 2016 presidential primary, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has laid forth a series of problematic policy proposals and statements -- ranging from his plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States to his suggestion that the United States default on debt -- that media have warned to be “dangerous,” “fact-free,” “unconstitutional,” “contradictory,” “racist,” and “xenophobic.” Media Matters compiled an extensive list of Trump’s widely panned policy plans thus far along with the debunks and criticism from media figures, experts and fact-checkers that go along with them.

  • What Media Need To Know About Trump Economic Policy Advisers Steve Moore And Larry Kudlow

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Politico reported that Donald Trump is tapping conservative economic pundits Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow to assist in remaking the presumptive Republican nominee’s tax plan, which has been lambasted as a budget-busting giveaway to high-income earners and corporations. Media should be aware that both Moore and Kudlow have long histories of playing fast and loose with the facts while making outlandish and incorrect claims about the economy.

  • Trumponomics: Media, Experts Criticize Trump’s Proposal To “Print The Money” To Pay Down Debt

    Follow-Up Questions Catch Presumptive Republican Nominee Backpedaling On Debt Reduction Plans

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Donald Trump called in to CNBC and outlined a plan to partially default on the United States’ outstanding sovereign debt obligations in hopes of eventually negotiating lower rates of repayment -- an action that would likely lead to a global financial crisis. Four days later, Trump claimed in a phone interview on CNN that the media had “misrepresented” his statement and that the United States would never default because the government could “print the money” needed to pay down the national debt. Printing away sovereign debt is theoretically possible, but members of the media have been quick to point out this supposed solution would also harm the economy and may even cause runaway inflation.

  • WSJ Falsely Labels Puerto Ricans As “Refugees” In Their Own Country

    Puerto Ricans Are Full American Citizens

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON Versión en español

    The Wall Street Journal issued a dire warning that the unfolding debt crisis in Puerto Rico could create an “exodus” of “Puerto Rican refugees” to the United States who would vote for Democrats and soak up public benefits -- completely ignoring their status as American citizens, with every right to live and work in whatever part of the country they wish.

    On May 2, The New York Times reported that the government of Puerto Rico defaulted on $399 million of a scheduled debt payment of $422 million owed to creditors and bondholders. According to the Times, the government in San Juan has already severely cut public services for millions of the island’s residents, but it is still unable to make up the revenue shortfall created by a prolonged recession that has sapped the Puerto Rican economy. Puerto Rico will be unable to repay its obligations without an act of Congress allowing the island to restructure its debt.

    In a May 2 editorial, The Wall Street Journal urged necessary congressional action to help Puerto Rico write-down and restructure its debt obligations, but it did so only to avoid “anarchy and a back-door bailout” that would result in “tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans flee[ing] to the mainland where they will land on the U.S. public dole.” The Journal said the debt crisis could result in an “exodus” of “Puerto Rican refugees” moving to another part of the United States and voting in federal elections. The paper speculated that if the Republican-controlled Congress did not assist the island, Puerto Rican votes would go “to the Democrats for years to come” (emphasis added):

    A new report by the Instituto de Estadísticas de Puerto Rico shows the island’s population exodus is accelerating with a net 64,000 Puerto Ricans moving to the U.S. in 2014. Most are young people—the median age is 29 and income is $13,000—seeking a better life. While many will eventually find jobs in the U.S., their incomes will at least initially be low enough to qualify for Medicaid, food stamps and public housing. Their kids will attend public schools.

    The Puerto Rican refugees will also be able to vote. In 2014, Florida (23,297) was the top destination for Puerto Ricans followed by Texas (5,019) and Pennsylvania (4,304). Virginia (1,664) and Ohio (1,553) ranked ninth and tenth. President Obama won Florida by about 74,000 votes in 2012—there are more than one million Puerto Ricans living in the state—and 537 votes decided the 2000 presidential election.

    A congressional default would relegate the island to economic paralysis, and Florida and Puerto Rican voters to the Democrats for years to come.

    The editorial board’s decision to slur millions of American citizens as “refugees” is irresponsible.

    Puerto Ricans moving to another part of the United States are not “refugees”; they are American citizens, and have been granted formal American citizenship since March 2, 1917. The full rights of citizenship were later extended to “All persons born in Puerto Rico on or after April 11, 1899.” If some residents of Puerto Rico choose to move throughout the United States in search of better economic opportunities for themselves and their families, they have every right to do so.

    Millions of Puerto Ricans are suffering from the island's confluence of corporate greed and bureaucratic mismanagement, as explained by the Huffington Post. HBO's Last Week Tonight has also exposed the precarious circumstances created by Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. territory, rather than a fully incorporated state, and highlighted the importance of helping Puerto Rico restructure its debt.

    The Journal’s fearmongering about so-called “Puerto Rican refugees” fits the standard right-wing media trope about the supposed threat presented by immigrants and refugees. Right-wing outlets often worry that refugees will soak up government resources, and that Democrats will use government entitlement programs to curry favor with Spanish-speaking immigrants. But the Journal’s decision to paint Puerto Ricans as refugees -- rather than the American citizens they are -- may set a new low for conservatives.

  • Fox & Friends Follows Conservative Playbook To Spin GDP Report, Mislead On Obama’s Economic Record

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    On the April 29 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney joined co-hosts Ainsley Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade, and Steve Doocy for a segment slamming President Obama’s record on the economy. The segment was a response to Obama’s recent interview with The New York Times, during which the president discussed how markedly the economy has improved since 2008 and what he hopes will be his economic legacy. The segment seemed to unwittingly mirror the right-wing playbook for downplaying positive economic gains during Democratic administrations by relying on false conservative talking points to dismiss economic growth and tout failed tax policies:

    Fox’s 3 Percent Growth Target Is Arbitrary And Ignores American History

    The segment opened with Kilmeade and Varney making the false claim that Obama is “the only U.S. president who could not deliver a single year of three percent growth.” It is not clear why Fox News is fixated on growing the economy at an average rate of three percent annually. Regardless, Kilmeade’s claim that Obama is “the only” president not to clear that bar is false.

    According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), which only has consistent annual data from 1930 to the present, Republican president Herbert Hoover didn’t just fail to hit three percent growth, he failed to hit zero percent growth. The economy contracted at a rate of -8.5 percent in 1930, -6.4 percent in 1931, a staggering -12.9 percent in 1932, and -1.3 percent in 1933. The contraction in 1933 may have been greater, had Franklin Delano Roosevelt not replaced Hoover in the White House in March of that year, initiating substantial government stimulus projects known as the New Deal. Reliable GDP estimates prior to 1930 are difficult to find, but those data that are available show four consecutive Republican presidents overseeing economic growth of less than 2 percent from 1871 to 1885. Over the course of the next 45 years the economy swung wildly between boom and bust cycles, including several deep depressions, before the Great Depression and FDR’s subsequent creation of oversight mechanisms that work to maintain relative economic stability.

    Varney Consistently Misleads On The Economy

    Fox Business host Stuart Varney is supposed to be a serious voice for analysis and expertise at the network, but Varney is a serial minformer, who creates confusion on economic issues.

    In November 2014, Varney predicted that a Republican takeover of the Senate would usher in an era of “3 to 4 percent” growth, which he now complains hasn’t happened. The economy grew at a 2.4 percent pace in 2014, and continued to grow at a rate of 2.4 percent after the GOP took over complete control of Congress in 2015. Yesterday, when the Commerce Department figures were first released, Varney wondered if the economy growing at a slightly slower rate than experts had predicted was proof that we are “sliding toward recession” -- his comments came just moments after an actual economist was on CNBC debunking the idea.

    In the past week, Varney has attacked impoverished children for soaking up too many government benefits and watched idly as an economist easily debunked conservative demands for more tax cuts and deregulation to spur the economy. Since the start of the year Varney has been an unceasing source of misinformation on the minimum wage, has misled on the funding structures of public-sector unions, has lamented a proposal to pay people for the hours they work, and has attacked “ridiculous” anti-poverty programs that help struggling families and save taxpayers money.

    Fox News Follows The Conservative Misinformation Script To Perfection

    In an April 28 blog post, Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman explained how Republicans mislead the American public about the health of the economy by ignoring positive economic trends. The focus of Waldman’s comparison was the “objective reality” of progress and areas for improvement specified by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the “laughable fantasy” of “an absolute (economic) nightmare” outlined by Republican front-runner Donald Trump, but it could have just as easily been any of the personalities at Fox News. This April 29 Fox & Friends segment that mislead on GDP is one very good example.

    In Waldman’s piece, he hit Trump for pretending tax cuts are the solution to economic growth -- they are actually a proven failure. Varney often repeats this same tax cut talking point at Fox. When Earhardt asked on Fox & Friends “what is the reason for these bad numbers” on the economy, Varney slammed “massive regulation, constant government borrowing” and “overspending to raise the debt” -- exactly the talking points for which Waldman hit Trump the day before.

  • Union Leader Parrots Koch-Funded Group To Attack Gov. Hassan

    Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER

    An editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader parroted the state director of a Koch-funded group in attacking Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s plan to use budget surplus funds to fill the state’s rainy day fund and address New Hampshire’s opioid crisis.  

    The April 27 editorial claimed Hassan is rushing to spend the state’s surplus funds “as fast as possible” and that she “seems to think spending large amounts of money will solve all of New Hampshire’s problems.”

    Maggie Hassan is running out of time to spend New Hampshire’s money.

    The lame duck governor is desperate to spend the surplus created by a budget she vetoed before the Legislature adjourns in two months. After all, when they come back to write the next state budget, she won’t be governor anymore.

    As business tax revenues come in faster than anticipated, Hassan is trying to take credit for the surplus, and spend it as fast as possible.

    [...]

    Maggie Hassan seems to think simply spending large amounts of money will solve all of New Hampshire’s problems.

    No wonder she wants to be a U.S. senator.

    A day before publishing the editorial, the paper reported that Hassan was seeking to deposit enough of the surplus revenue into the state’s rainy day fund to fill the savings account to its legal limit. Only after contributing to the savings fund did Hassan propose to spend “additional resources to address the opioid epidemic, fully fund education adequacy grants, additional money for Police Standards and Training Council, and to overhaul the business profits tax to make it easier for startups to attract capital.”

    The April 26 article detailing Hassan’s savings plan also quoted Americans for Prosperity (AFP) state director Greg Moore, whose group is largely funded by the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.

    Moore’s critique of Hassan’s proposals sounded similar to what the Union Leader’s editorial board wrote the next day:

    “There are some things you can count on in life — death, taxes and Gov. Hassan trying to spend more taxpayer money, even before these funds have made it in the door” said Greg Moore, AFP-NH state director. “Now is exactly the time to show fiscal restraint and very carefully target any additional spending, not toss out a wish list of spending that she could not get included in the budget last year.”

    Moore often places op-eds in the Union Leader and has been quoted by the paper over 100 times in the last five years, according to a Nexis search. Since the paper has given such a strong voice to AFP – including previously publishing a reworked version of an AFP press release as news -- its parroting of Moore’s talking points comes as little surprise.

    Furthermore, the editorial board at the Union Leader has its own Koch connection. Opinion editor Grant Bosse worked for the Koch-funded Josiah Bartlett Center for over four years prior to joining the paper.

  • STUDY: Cable And Broadcast News Try To Cover The Economy Without Economists

    Economists Made Up 1 Percent Of Guests In The First Quarter Of 2016, While Shows Focused On Campaigns, Inequality

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Expertise from economists was almost completely absent from television news coverage of the economy in the first quarter of 2016, which focused largely on the tax and economic policy platforms of this year’s presidential candidates. Coverage of economic inequality spiked during the period -- tying an all-time high -- driven in part by messaging from candidates on both sides of the aisle, but gender diversity in guests during economic news segments remained low.

  • Media, Experts Slam Ted Cruz’s Promise Of 5 Percent Economic Growth

    Proposed Tax Cuts Have Proved To Not Stimulate Economic Growth, Suggested Return To The Gold Standard Is Simply “Dangerous”

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) promised that if he was elected, his administration would oversee economic growth in excess of 5 percent a year stemming from reduced regulations, tax cuts for high-income earners and corporations, a balanced federal budget, and a return to the gold standard. Journalists and experts were quick to criticize Cruz’s economic growth target, which exceeds by 1 percentage point a proposal by former Republican candidate Jeb Bush that was roundly mocked as “nonsense” and “impossible” last summer.