During an online discussion today, Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon touted "the Reagan years" as an example of "low spending by the government":
Indianapolis, Ind.: Is the GOP message of no spending by the federal government, which to some extent rests on the idea that the last eight years didn't happen, working. It would seem to me to be a tough sell, no matter who was the Democratic president.
Perry Bacon Jr.: I think Republicans like that message, and Jindal and others want to make sure base Republicans are fired up. The last eight years weren't a great test of low spending by the government; Republicans would argue the Reagan years were a better example and more politically successful.
This is complete bunk. Federal government spending increased under Ronald Reagan. Increased significantly more than it did under, for example, Bill Clinton.
It's obvious why conservatives tell fairy tales in which the wise and noble Ronald Reagan kept government spending in check: they think it helps their political and ideological fortunes. It's less apparent why reporters like Perry Bacon repeat these myths.
Here's the big one today:
See, when Drudge posted the headline/graph Wednesday morning, Feb. 25, and the graph only showed stock activity between 10 am and 11 am, it was supposed to be a ha-ha moment: Obama addressed the nation about the economy last night and the market opened way down. I guess readers are supposed to see a direct connection between the two because conservatives have decided that Obama's entire presidency is going to be judged, hour-by-hour, by the stock market.
But uh-oh. Look what happens around 2pm. The stock market recovered its losses for the day. Did the rebound have anything to do with Obama or his rhetoric today? No. Just like the early decline didn't have anything to do with Obama. (Unexpected declines in housing prices did, though.)
The truth is, the longer Drudge keeps the graphic up on his site the more people will see the absurdity of the exercise.
Drudge gives in around 3:30 pm and changes the headline to "STOCKS REBOUND"
The comedy continues. At 4 pm Drudge goes back to WAS IT SOMETHING HE SAID? Is he going to do this for four years?
FYI: The graphic above continually updates and is now showing the latest Dow movement, and does not reflect the activity at the time Drudge first posted on Wednesday, Feb. 25.
The Politico falsely claimed that CNBC's Rick Santelli criticized "irresponsible behavior by careless banks" when he "rallied bail-out skeptics with an on-air rant." In fact, during his widely circulated February 19 "rant," Santelli did not mention "careless banks"; rather, he repeatedly criticized behavior by homeowners, questioning if "we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages."
On Fox & Friends, Gretchen Carlson allowed Steve Adubato to misrepresent President Obama's February 24 address to Congress in order to claim that Obama engaged in "class warfare." After Adubato suggested that Obama did not refer to people who "bought houses they shouldn't have bought because they can't afford them," Carlson responded: "Good point." In fact, contrary to Adubato's suggestion, Obama did refer to people who "bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway."
On his radio and television shows, Bill O'Reilly advanced the falsehood that "the average autoworker now makes 70 bucks an hour." In fact, a recent Barclays Capital analysis reportedly found that the average U.S. autoworker is paid "an average of $55 an hour in wages and benefits."
On Fox News, Sean Hannity repeated the false GOP talking points that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act directs that funds be spent to protect the salt marsh harvest mouse in San Francisco and on a high-speed rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas. In fact, as Rep. Joe Sestak noted in response to Hannity, the bill does not contain any language directing funds to the salt marsh harvest mouse or its San Francisco wetlands habitat, nor does the bill include a provision directing that funds be spent on a high-speed rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas.
From today's edition of The Note [emphasis added]:
Add to that Obama's broader problem: that he remains far more popular than the ideas he needs to sell.
Really? According to ABC's own polling information:
Sixty-four percent of respondents supported the administration's $787 billion economic stimulus package and the same percentage backed his proposal to prevent housing foreclosures.
The New York Times uncritically repeated Gov. Bobby Jindal's misrepresentation of a quote from President Obama, and quoting from an advanced excerpt of Jindal's speech, wrote: " 'A few weeks ago, the president warned that our nation is facing a crisis that he said "we may not be able to reverse," ' Mr. Jindal said. 'But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover -- or that America's best days are behind her.' " In fact, Obama stated that if his economic recovery plan were not passed, "we may not be able to reverse" the current economic crisis.
Media outlets have uncritically reported Gov. Bobby Jindal's misrepresentation of a quote from President Obama. The outlets reported that according to excerpts of Jindal's response to Obama's address to Congress, Jindal would say: "A few weeks ago, the President warned that our nation is facing a crisis that he said 'we may not be able to reverse.' Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover -- or that America's best days are behind her." In fact, Obama stated that if his economic recovery plan were not passed, "we may not be able to reverse" the current economic crisis.
According to Ben Smith, Bobby Jindal will accuse Obama of pessimism tonight, saying:
A few weeks ago, the President warned that our nation is facing a crisis that he said 'we may not be able to reverse.' Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover - or that America's best days are behind her.
Smith didn't mention this, but Jindal's claim is false. Obama didn't say "we may not be able to reverse" the crisis; he said if we continue to do nothing, it may reach a point where it cannot be reversed. And he didn't say "we cannot recover" or that "America's best days are behind her." Simply didn't happen.
Here's Obama's February 5 op-ed:
What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives -- action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.
Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.
That's why I feel such a sense of urgency about the recovery plan before Congress. With it, we will create or save more than 3 million jobs over the next two years, provide immediate tax relief to 95 percent of American workers, ignite spending by businesses and consumers alike, and take steps to strengthen our country for years to come.
UPDATE: Salon's Alex Koppelman is all over this:
That's misleading, at best, though it's a cute little frame. ("Obama doesn't believe in you!") In context, it's clear that the quote Jindal refers to means almost exactly the opposite of what he says it does.
Greg Sargent reports that the submitted draft of a New York Times article referencing the GOP's false claims that the stimulus bill included funding for marsh mice noted that the claims are misleading -- but an editor removed that description of the claims.
Here's the original language, according to Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who wrote the article: "Republicans decry, often misleadingly, what they see as pork-barrel spending for projects like marsh mouse preservation." The final text omitted the words "often misleadingly."
Often such editing decisions are made in haste or to save space. But this was only two words, and it's worth recalling that the notion that there was millions in the bill to save the marsh mouse in Nancy Pelosi's district isn't just some garden variety talking point. It has been a major component of GOP push-back for weeks, repeated by high profile GOP officials in all sorts of settings.
There's really no excuse for this editing decision by the Times. It means that someone at the New York Times thought it was important to tell readers that Republicans decry pork-barrel spending for marsh mouse preservation -- and that it was important to hide from readers the fact that the Republican complaints are false.
On World News, business correspondent Betsy Stark stated: "Wall Street is the bastion of free-market capitalism, and nationalization, even if it's meant to save the banks, is something that happens in socialist countries; it's not supposed to happen in the United States." In fact, the FDIC has acted as receiver assuming all deposits for 66 failed banks since October 1, 2000. Indeed, Cato Institute senior fellow Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. wrote, "The federal government, under the auspices of the FDIC, can be said to routinely nationalize failed banks."
Note the response to the middle question:
Fox News' Neil Cavuto stated that President Obama "misstate[d]" the facts on the U.S. corporate tax rate structure, and purporting to "correct" him, claimed that the U.S. corporate tax rate is "at a high 35 percent ... the highest in the industrialized world. That is un-debatable and unequivocal." In fact, while the U.S. statutory corporate tax rate is 35 percent, according to the Government Accountability Office, "Statutory tax rates do not provide a complete measure of the burden that a tax system imposes on business income." Additionally, World Bank and GAO data indicate that the U.S. effective corporate tax rate is lower than 35 percent and lower than several developed economies.
On Hannity, Bo Dietl falsely asserted that "[t]en years from now" there will be only two workers for each Social Security beneficiary. He added, "The problem is there's going to be bankruptcy in Social Security and then the pension system." In fact, the 2008 Social Security trustee's report estimates that the ratio will fall from more than 3 workers for every beneficiary to a 2.2 ratio by 2030, not in "[t]en years." Furthermore, Social Security will be able to pay full benefits until 2041, at which point it will be able to cover 78 percent of benefits if no legislative changes are made.