In an article about President Obama's economic stimulus package, The Washington Times reported that Rep. John Boehner "called for 'fast-acting tax relief, not slow-moving government spending,' in a ... response to Mr. Obama's weekly address." But the Times did not note that Obama's stimulus package proposes several tax credits and that according to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, "at least 75 percent of the overall package ... will be spent over the next year and a half."
The Washington Post asserted that "a report from the Congressional Budget Office ... said the majority of money in the Democratic [stimulus] plan would not get spent within the first year and a half." In fact, a document described by The Huffington Post as being the "whole" CBO " 'report' " accounts for only approximately $358 billion out of the "more than $850 billion" that the Post reported is included in the Democratic proposal, meaning that the CBO analysis could not possibly reach any conclusions about "the majority of money in the Democratic plan."
The Washington Times' Donald Lambro falsely claimed that in a January 2008 paper, President Barack Obama's campaign economic adviser Jason Furman "doubted any infrastructure spending 'would generate significant short-term stimulus.' " In fact, in that paper, while stating that infrastructure projects are "difficult to design in a manner that would generate significant short-term stimulus," Furman also said that infrastructure spending "might be more useful if policies could be designed to prevent cutoffs in ongoing infrastructure spending (such as road repair) that would exacerbate an economic downturn."
We detailed this back-and-forth earlier at CF, and how Newsweek chose to ignore the salient points actor Ben Affleck recently raised about the magazine's coverage of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson last autumn. (Oops sorry, Newsweek claims Affleck raised no salient points.)
Anyway, Newsweek's updated response to the Affleck caper, as it were, is mighty peculiar: Newsweek doesn't matter! At least that seems to be the magazine's talking point.
Affleck claimed Newsweek's worshipful coverage of Paulson at a crucial juncture of the unfolding financial crisis helped create a larger public perception that Americans shouldn't critically questions Paulson's economic bailout plan; a plan lots of critics now see as being flawed.
It was one of many factors that made it difficult for people to say, [inaud] hold on a second, what is the difference between now and a week from now? Why can't we examine this more closely? Can we talk about this? Why is it that we can't have more transparency in this piece of legislation?...Long and short of it is, Newsweek, in deciding to tell all of America that we all have to put our trust in Henry Paulson, that's like a mediaocracy. It's presumptuous and it damaged us in some ways.
But Newsweek in response, now claims it's loopy to suggest that the journalism the weekly magazine produces somehow influences public opinion, let alone public policy.
Writes Newsweek's Kurt Soller:
Journalism criticism is one thing, but accusing us of actually influencing the economic bailout package? That's ludicrous thinking -- especially for a Cambridge boy like Affleck.
Guys, don't sell yourself short.
An Open Letter to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michelle Malkin
In a time like this, when tempers are riding high and many Americans are close to panic about their jobs and finances, you have a special responsibility to consider the accuracy of what you say and the consequences of inflammatory and erroneous statements. In the last few days, manifestly distorting my words and pulling them out of context, you have accused me of wanting to exclude white males from jobs generated by the stimulus package. Anyone who takes a moment to examine what I actually said and wrote knows this to be an absurd misrepresentation of my position (see this). My goal is and has always been to create as many opportunities for as wide a group as possible, and not exclude anyone from access. There is and has never been any ambiguity about this. The hate mail I have received since your broadcast suggests that the mischievous consequences of your demagoguery are potentially dangerous, in addition to being destructive of rational and constructive political discourse. I urge you to take responsibility for your words. Words and ideas have real world consequences, and you have demonstrated a cavalier disregard for both.
While interviewing Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity repeated the false claim that "[s]ixty-one" Guantánamo detainees who have been released are "back on the battlefield" to support his assertion that President Barack Obama is "an ideologue." Hannity and Giuliani also repeated the claims that fiscal stimulus packages were ineffective during the Great Depression and during Japan's "lost decade," but both those claims have been challenged by economists.
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The Washington Post reported, "Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research, said he was skeptical of the stimulus package because much of the spending in it may come well after the crisis is over, as a report from the Congressional Budget Office has suggested." But the Post did not include a response from the Obama administration or the Democratic leadership anywhere in the same edition of the newspaper.
On Lou Dobbs Tonight, Ed Henry reported that a "study" from the Congressional Budget Office "was suggesting that a lot of the spending proposals in the original [economic stimulus] plan would not really take effect for a couple of years, so it wouldn't clearly help create jobs in the first two years of the president's administration." However, the director of the Office of Management and Budget stated in a letter that his agency's "analysis indicates that at least 75 percent of the overall package ... will be spent over the next year and a half" -- which Henry did not report.
Discussing President Obama's meeting with congressional leaders to discuss the economic stimulus plan, CBS' Chip Reid reported that "when Republicans criticized tax refunds for people who don't pay taxes, sources in the meeting say the president said, quote, 'I won,' referring to the election and making it clear he's sticking with that part of the plan." In fact, Obama has not proposed giving tax refunds to "people who don't pay taxes"; he has proposed giving the tax credit to "working families," which means they pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity have falsely asserted or suggested that Robert Reich, speaking at a congressional forum, proposed that jobs created by the economic stimulus package should exclude white males. In fact, Reich has repeatedly stated that he favors a stimulus plan that "includ[es] women and minorities, and the long-term unemployed" in addition to skilled professionals and white male construction workers, not one that is solely limited to them.
Numerous media figures have asserted that the proposed stimulus package supported by President Barack Obama would amount to spending at least $223,000 for every job created, echoing a press release issued by the Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee. But by calculating the per-job cost by dividing the estimated total cost of the stimulus package by the estimated number of jobs created -- and thus suggesting that the sole purpose of that package is to create jobs -- these media figures ignored other tangible benefits stemming from the package, such as infrastructure improvements and education, health, and public safety investments.
On NBC's Nightly News, Chuck Todd reported that President Obama "drew more criticism from Republicans [...] thanks to a new report claiming the stimulus will take years, not months, to improve the economy" and aired a clip of House Minority Leader John Boehner criticizing the stimulus plan. However, Todd did not mention the Democratic leadership's response: that the Congressional Budget Office report ignored faster-moving provisions in the stimulus, creating a "false impression" of the plan's effects.