Echoing a Republican talking point, Rush Limbaugh asserted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that "[t]he average recession will last five to 11 months; the average recovery will last six years. Recessions will end on their own if they're left alone." But Limbaugh's claim misses the point and misrepresents the reason for the stimulus bill. Economists take the position that an economic stimulus package is necessary, both during the recession and after the economy begins to recover.
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According to a new study by ThinkProgress, Republican lawmakes have had a 2 to 1 advantage over their Democratic counterparts when it comes to cable news appearances on the stimulus debate:
The media have been aiding their efforts. In a new analysis, ThinkProgress has found that the five cable news networks — CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business and CNBC — have hosted more Republican lawmakers to discuss the plan than Democrats by a 2 to 1 ratio this week:
In total, from 6 AM on Monday to 4 PM on Wednesday, the networks have hosted Republican lawmakers 51 times and Democratic lawmakers only 24 times. Surprisingly, Fox News came the closest to offering balance, hosting 8 Republicans and 6 Democrats. CNN had only one Democrat compared to 7 Republicans.
Karl Rove falsely claimed that the economic stimulus bill would amount to spending "$206,000 for each new job that [President Barack Obama] wants to get," becoming the latest Fox News figure to repeat the false calculation. In fact, by calculating the per-job cost by dividing the estimated total cost of the recovery bill by the estimated number of jobs created -- and thus suggesting that the sole purpose of that package is to create jobs -- Rove ignored other tangible benefits stemming from the package, such as infrastructure improvements and investments in education, health, and public safety.
The Wall Street Journal uncritically reported congressional Republicans' criticism of the proposed economic stimulus bill on the grounds "that much of the money in the package wouldn't be spent until 2011 or later, when a recovery is likely to be already under way." The article did not mention that economists, including Congressional Budget Office director Douglas W. Elmendorf, have said that fiscal stimulus in 2011 or later would be effective in the current economic situation, in which economic output is projected to remain below its potential long after the technical beginning of the recovery.
Over on Huffington Post, ACORN CEO and chief organizer Bertha Lewis has a great post up taking the media to task for advancing the demonstrably false right-wing talking point that under the President's economic stimulus plan ACORN would receive a jaw-dropping $4.19 billion.
From her post (emphasis added):
Sometimes, in my copious spare time, I like to peruse what various folks in the media, both new and traditional, are saying about ACORN. Sometimes this makes me happy, for example when I see Ben Ehrenreich's well done article on what people are doing to combat the foreclosure crisis at the heart of the economic meltdown. And sometimes it leaves me perplexed. Like now, watching the right-wing blogs and then right-wing traditional media outlets pick up the ridiculous talking points from the GOP leadership attacking Obama's stimulus package by claiming that it gives ACORN a $4.19 billion bailout.
Puh-lease, people! When we heard that we fell over ourselves to see the language in the bill that would make us the richest organization of poor people in world history. We scrambled to set-up a direct deposit account. We wondered if check cashing outlets would take government checks. Turns out, though, that this $4 billion is pretty much like the last billion we read about in GOP press releases: a complete fabrication of overheated partisan fever dreams.
At this point I'm not sure what is more amusing: watching respectable elected officials parrot zombie talking points from the party that brought us the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression or watching so-called journalists mimic the charges without asking for proof. Or calling us for our comment.
So let's be clear. ACORN isn't getting any of this money. Since it is set aside for non-profit housing developers to help purchase, rehab, and resell foreclosed properties, we aren't eligible for it in the first place.
Lewis is right – this dubious talking point has been all over the conservative and mainstream media. More from Media Matters here:
Myths and falsehoods surrounding the economic recovery plan
The Hill repeated false GOP claim that ACORN is a "beneficiar[y] of the stimulus package"
Parroting GOP, Dittohead Limbaugh dutifully launches false ACORN attack
SF Chronicle reported false claim that $4.19 billion of recovery plan "would go to" ACORN
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On his radio and television shows, Bill O'Reilly claimed that the food-stamp provision in the economic recovery bill will not stimulate the economy. But economists, including the director of the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office and a reported adviser to the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, disagree.
The Politico reported the GOP claim that "it may take years before the stimulus plan spurs real job growth" and highlighted a video showing "a Joint Committee on Taxation staffer tell[ing] Michigan Rep. Dave Camp that he can't promise that the $275 billion in tax cuts in the stimulus will create any new jobs." In fact, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf has stated of the bill: "According to CBO's estimates, the number of jobs would be between 0.8 million and 2.1 million higher at the end of this year, 1.2 million to 3.6 million higher at the end of next year, and 0.7 million to 2.1 million higher at the end of 2011."
USA Today claimed in an article that the "rising cost" of the economic stimulus bill "could be a challenge" for President Barack Obama, noting that a provision intended to "protect about 24 million Americans from paying higher taxes under the alternative minimum tax [AMT]" constituted the "major Senate addition" that increased the bill's cost. However, USA Today did not point out that the amendment was added by Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley.
On The O'Reilly Factor, Dick Morris asserted that the economic recovery bill "won't work," in part because "two hundred billion of it is just money to the state. That just stops taxes from going up, but it doesn't stimulate anything." However, economist Mark Zandi testified to Congress that "aid to financially-pressed state governments" is an "economically potent stimulus," and a table provided with his testimony indicated that aid to states would boost GDP by $1.36 for every dollar spent. Similarly, information that the CBO provided to Congress shows that aid to states produces a greater "cumulative impact on GDP" than do tax cuts.
Why does the Village suddenly think GOP members of Congress hold all the answers to fixing our economic woes?
Maybe one gasbag or spokesmodel could ask them why no matter whether the country is economically doing well or doing badly, their advice is always tax cuts. It's infuriating to see them swarm the television and have to watch the media listen to their "analysis" and swallow it whole. If I didn't follow politics closely, I would think these people are the ones who won the election.
In numerous instances, the media have falsely stated or suggested that a CBO analysis of less than half of the economic recovery bill examined the entire bill, resulting in the false suggestion that the analysis, in the words of the Politico, "shows very little money will be spent in the first six or so months after enactment" of the recovery plan. But as the AP noted, the CBO analysis did not "cover tax cuts or efforts by Democrats to provide relief to cash-strapped state governments to help with their Medicaid bills." Six days later, some outlets were still making the false suggestion.