In recent days, Fox News anchors and contributors have falsely asserted, repeatedly, that people who don't pay taxes would be eligible for a $500 individual tax credit included in President-elect Barack Obama's proposed economic recovery plan, echoing an oft-repeated myth from the presidential campaign that Obama's proposed tax cuts would go to people who don't pay taxes. In fact, Obama has proposed a tax credit for working Americans, meaning they do pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
The New York Times uncritically quoted opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act claiming that the bill would "eliminate ... the right" to a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers wish to unionize, but did not mention that supporters of EFCA counter by pointing out, as the Times itself previously has, that the bill would only "take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election."
On the January 8 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, Keith Olbermann , echoing recent items by Media Matters for America, highlighted remarks by Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, Michelle Malkin, and Brit Hume:
In his Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove falsely claimed that Rep. Barney Frank "labeled" President George W. Bush's "proposals" for reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as "inane." In fact, Frank's remark came in response to Bush's assertion that "Congress needs to get [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] reformed" by passing Bush's "robust reform package" before Fannie and Freddie could expand their mortgage portfolios. The New York Times reported that in an interview, Frank "said that the president's comments were 'inane.' 'Tell the Republicans to stop blocking the bill,' Mr. Frank said.''
Rush Limbaugh falsely asserted that Rep. Barney Frank "created the problem" of the subprime mortgage crisis, claiming that Frank's "definition of affordable housing was to make sure that people who couldn't pay the loans back got the loans, the mortgages. He forced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to do this." In fact, Frank has advocated for policies that emphasize low-income home rentals as opposed to homeownership and supported legislation to strengthen oversight over Fannie and Freddie.
Brit Hume asserted on Your World that "the New Deal -- everybody agrees, I think, on both sides of the spectrum now, that the New Deal failed. The debate is over why it failed," later stating, "President [Franklin] Roosevelt waged what could only be called a jihad against private enterprise." In fact "everybody" doesn't "agree" that the New Deal failed; Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, among others, has said that Roosevelt did not go far enough to end the crisis and that his attempts to balance the budget hindered recovery.
In a column about the "coming war" over the Employee Free Choice Act, Portfolio's Matthew Cooper wrote that "[p]olitical veteran Mark McKinnon, a former media adviser to George W. Bush, says he's 'never seen business this fired up.' " But Cooper did not identify McKinnon as a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute, an organization opposing the legislation.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue host David Shuster and Newsweek senior editor Dan Gross blast the conservative media-driven myth that Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal worsened the Great Depression.
Fox News' Shepard Smith falsely suggested that a $500 individual tax credit, reportedly included in President-elect Barack Obama's proposed economic recovery plan, would benefit people who don't currently pay taxes, asking, "I know we don't know the details yet, but $300 billion in tax cuts -- how do you cut taxes on people who don't pay taxes?" In fact, all American workers are required to pay taxes on their wages for Social Security and Medicare under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.
On Hannity & Colmes, referring to the Minnesota Senate election, Dick Morris baselessly claimed that Al Franken and the Democrats are "stealing it right in front of our eyes" and asserted that both disputed ballots and their duplicates were counted, resulting in votes being counted "twice." Morris and Sean Hannity echoed claims in a Wall Street Journal editorial that alleged double counting of duplicate ballots during the recount. But the Journal simply asserted that there was double counting, echoing an accusation by Norm Coleman's campaign.
In an article about President-elect Barack Obama's meetings with members of Congress to discuss a stimulus package, The Hill's Mike Soraghan asserted, "To the surprise of some, congressional liberals offered up little initial resistance to the sudden turn to tax cuts." But in referring to Obama's purported "sudden turn to tax cuts," Soraghan ignored Obama's promise of tax cuts during the campaign, nor did Soraghan quote or name one person expressing "surprise" that "congressional liberals" would support tax cuts as part of a stimulus plan.
Echoing his previous attacks on the poor, radio host Bill Cunningham claimed that "poor people were not and are not poor because they lack money. They're poor because they lack values, ethics, and morals."
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In criticizing a large-scale economic stimulus plan favored by President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, an Investor's Business Daily editorial echoed other media by citing the New Deal and Japan's "lost decade" as purported evidence that stimulus spending is "the least effective way to give the economy a boost." However, according to prominent economists, economic conditions in 1930s America and 1990s Japan were improving following major increases in stimulus spending -- trends that were reversed only when the respective governments decided to cut spending and raise taxes in an attempt to reduce the deficit.