Issues ››› Economy
  • New Research: Greatest Low-Wage Earnings Gains Came In States That Raised The Minimum Wage

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center’s (MassBudget) annual Labor Day report found that states that raised the minimum wage saw stronger low-wage earnings gains than states that did not raise wages, undermining a common right-wing media myth that higher wages actually reduce worker earnings.

    MassBudget published its findings on how the minimum wage affects earnings in its 2016 State of Working Massachusetts report, published September 5. The study largely focused on a 7 percent increase in wage growth that low-wage Massachusetts workers experienced from 2014 to 2015 after the state enacted a minimum wage increase. The report also found that low-wage earnings growth was strongest nationwide in states that raised their minimum wages. According to the MassBudget report, women saw relatively greater income gains at the state level than men over the past year, and that may be related to the fact that women make up nearly two-thirds of all minimum wage workers and are disproportionately affected by wage increases. From the 2016 State of Working Massachusetts:

    Massachusetts is accompanied by a handful of states such as California, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and others that have passed legislation in the past two years that would increase their minimum wage. In 2015, low-wage workers in our Commonwealth and in other states with recent minimum wage increases have seen real wage growth. The chart below shows that the growth in wages for the bottom 10th percentile of earners was fastest in states with legislated increases (versus minimum wage increases through indexing to inflation or no increase at all).

    MassBudget’s report stands in contrast to misinformation about the minimum wage frequently promoted by right-wing media. Conservative outlets often claim that raising the wage will actually hurt workers by killing jobs and harming businesses, despite all evidence to the contrary. New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie actually cited a number of these debunked right-wing media myths during an August 30 press conference announcing his decision to veto a minimum wage increase in New Jersey.

    Right-wing media have a long history of attacking the minimum wage, despite a wealth of evidence showing that minimum wage increases have a negligible effect on employment.

  • Four Ways Media Attack Organized Labor

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    As Labor Day approaches, Media Matters looks back at how media have attacked organized labor over the past year. In the midst of several important battles for labor unions in 2016, media have often pushed misleading information about union membership and fees, attempted to delegitimize the votes of union members, uncritically cited and elevated voices from anti-union dark-money groups without proper disclosure, and claimed that teachers unions’ activism shows that educators do not care about what’s best for their students.

  • James Carville Calls Out The Media’s False Equivalence

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Veteran political consultant and commentator James Carville says the media assumes false equivalence when covering major policy disagreements, allowing right-wing misinformation to overshadow clear evidence that Democratic policies on issues like the economy and health care have been successful.

    Carville, who is a guest contributor to Media Matters, recently released We’re Still Right, They’re Still Wrong, a sequel to his 1996 book We’re Right, They’re Wrong. In an interview with Media Matters, Carville explained that he wrote the book because “the Democratic Party does a very poor job of tootin’ our own horn” while “right-wing blowhards” successfully push misinformation about Democratic policies into mainstream media coverage.

    “The economy performs better under Democrats than Republicans -- there’s no debate there,” Carville explained. “You don’t even have to be an expert to go look up unemployment data. Look up growth. The deficit is remarkably lower under Democratic presidents than Republican presidents.” But Carville argues that reporters’ obsession with presenting “both sides” of policy disagreements -- rather than focusing on evidence -- ends up lending credibility to right-wing misinformation. Conservatives "don’t ever cite any facts for anything that they say. And they just move on.”

    Carville highlighted conservative fearmongering on issues like Obamacare, the Ebola virus -- which some warned was going to “kill us all” -- and climate change as notable examples. “It’s not a disputable fact. The earth is getting warmer; get over it. There‘s not another side of the argument.”

    Carville sees evidence of that same false equivalence in reporting about the presidential election. “I do interviews and they say, ‘Well, we have two unpopular candidates.’ Yes, that’s sort of true, but one is twice as unpopular as the other.”

    In Carville’s view, Republican nominee Donald Trump’s candidacy is the natural product of years of fact-free right-wing fearmongering. “I think Trump is the perfect nominee of a party that hates facts. Because he doesn’t know anything. He doesn’t know the nuclear triad from the federal triangle. And he is just exactly what they deserve. They’ve been a fact-denying party from evolution to global warming to economic policy to foreign policy, so why should they be surprised if they have a fact-denying nominee? He fits in perfectly for them.”

    At the same time, Carville sees a double standard in the way reporters handle each candidate's respective controversies. In a March piece for Media Matters, Carville laid out what he dubbed “The Clinton Rule” based on the Beltway media’s obsession with supposed Clinton “scandals”: “There shall be one standard for covering everyone else in public life, and another standard for the Clintons.”

    As a recent example, Carville pointed to the media’s recent scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation and the growing calls for the Clintons to shut it down. He urged Democrats to be blunt in their defense of the foundation: “People are going to die. Yes, people will die when you shut it down.” He dismissed potential hand-wringing over his proclamation: “‘Oh gee, do you think you should you really say that?’ Well it’s a fact.”

    “My message to Democrats is, you’ve been right, get over it. You can be nice, you can be polite about it, but you’ve just been right,” Carville said. “I’m sure it’s going to come a day where we’ll get something wrong and we’ll deal with that, too.”

  • Chris Christie’s Minimum Wage Veto Was Based On Right-Wing Media Myths

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    New Jersey governor and Trump campaign adviser Chris Christie held a press conference on August 30 to announce he would veto a bill passed by the state legislature to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. During the press conference Christie attacked efforts to raise the minimum wage, citing right-wing media myths that raising wages would hurt businesses and lead to job automation.

  • NBC Reveals Yet Another Contradiction In Trump's Tax Plan


    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was blasted by NBC after it was revealed that the candidate’s latest campaign ad cites two distinct and contradictory tax plans, neither of which are Trump’s current plan. This “confusion” follows months of Trump contradicting himself on economic policy.

    On August 29, MSNBC and NBC News political reporter Benjy Sarlin reported that Trump's new campaign ad, which is part of a $10 million ad buy in key swing states, seems to make promises about lower taxes, boosted job creation, and economic growth that are "generic enough for a Republican politician." Yet, on closer inspection, Trump's promises are actually buttressed by citations linking to two different tax plans that he has either disavowed or has not endorsed.

    The ad's promises of wage growth and a thriving business community are based on a September 2015 analysis by the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation of Trump's original tax plan, which he replaced with a different and less detailed plan on August 8. Meanwhile, the ad's promise of tax relief for working families and increased job creation is based on a Tax Foundation analysis of the 2016 tax reform plan outlined by House Republicans, which Trump has yet to endorse. From NBC News:

    Trump has not endorsed the House GOP plan outright, but his new proposal,announced earlier this month, has some similarities. Most notably, they both advocate collapsing the tax code into three brackets with rates of 12%, 25%, and 33%. But there are also important differences: Washington Post columnist Allan Sloan reported that Trump's plan would preserve a deduction on business loans that the House GOP plan would scrap that would save up to $1.2 trillion in revenue over 10 years.

    NBC’s Sarlin later reported that the Trump campaign was still issuing press releases containing the tax policy discrepancies even after they were revealed, and noted a half-hearted defense from the Trump campaign’s deputy policy director:

    Numerous other journalists picked up on Trump’s contradictory campaign ad, noting that it was “odd for Trump to cite the House GOP’s plan as if it were his own,” and arguing that the confusion might stem from Trump’s refusal to “fill[] in all the details” for his latest plan.

    Trump's inconsistency with the facts and noncommittal approach to his own economic policy outlines has become a feature of his presidential campaign. Trump’s latest tax plan was blasted by the media for being “light on details” and “ridden with more of the same empty tropes” exemplified during his previous economic policy speeches. Economists trashed the plan as “nonsense” and an attempt to re-write his previous tax and economic policy plan into just more of the “standard voodoo” economics frequently pushed by Republican supply-side advocates.

    At the outset of his campaign last year, Trump frequently said he would raise taxes on wealthy people like himself, but his initial plan overwhelmingly favored the very rich. Despite publishing a tax plan that included tax cuts for millionaires, he spent months falsely claiming the opposite was true. Trump has claimed for months that the only reason he has not released his tax returns is because they are under audit from the IRS, but the candidate has actually released his returns in the midst of an audit before, and continues to defy media inquires into tax years that are no longer under IRS review.

  • Rachel Maddow Rips Trump After "Stunning" And "Profound Rejection" From Reputable Economists

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    MSNBC host Rachel Maddow ridiculed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after a Wall Street Journal survey found not a single former member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) would support his presidency.

    Maddow opened the August 25 edition of her program by blasting Trump over a Wall Street Journal survey that revealed that no former CEA members would state support for the GOP nominee. Maddow reported that while this “very diverse group” of 45 economists had served eight different presidents -- including five Republicans -- “the one thing they all have in common is that not a single one of them supports Donald Trump for president.”

    According to the Journal, no Democratic or Republican advisers expressed support for Trump. Two former Republican advisers (Matthew Slaughter and Richard Schmalensee) crossed party lines to offer support for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. And two GOP advisers (former Reagan appointees William Poole and Jerry Jordan) even stated their support for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson over their own party’s nominee. Maddow called the survey result “stunning,” and compared the economists’ “profound rejection” of Trump to being passed over at a dance. Maddow noted that it was like asking someone to dance, “and everybody in the world decides they will never dance again because of you” (emphasis added):

    RACHEL MADDOW (HOST): It's one thing to have, you know, some dissident Republicans rejecting a party's presidential nominee. It happens here and there. It happens, to a greater or lesser extent, with almost every nominee from both major parties every election cycle. There's always a dissenter here or there, but when it's everyone alive who has ever worked for any American president as an economic adviser including the last five Republican presidents, and they all reject you. That’s not like, you ask somebody to dance and they say, “no I don't want to dance with you.” That's like, you ask someone to dance and everybody in the world decides they will never dance again because of you. I mean, this is just -- this is profound rejection. I find that just stunning.

    During the segment, Maddow also highlighted a bitingly critical indictment of Trump that Harvard economist Martin Feldstein, a former CEA chairman under President Reagan, told to The Wall Street Journal:

    “I have known personally every Republican president since Richard Nixon. They all showed a real understanding of economics and international affairs. The same was true of Mitt Romney. Donald Trump does not have that understanding and does not seem to be concerned about it. That alone disqualifies him in my judgement.”

    The revelations from the Journal’s survey were also a topic of conversation on the August 26 edition of CNN’s New Day, during which Trump booster Steve Forbes dismissed the revelation and pivoted to highlight the supposed strength of Trump's advisers: Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow. Moore and Kudlow have been dogged for making inaccurate statements and failed predictions over the years. Moore was accused of having “a troubled relationship with facts” by Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who went on to say that Moore may be maintaining a career in conservative economics only because “incompetence is actually desirable at some level” in those circles. Meanwhile, Kudlow recently lectured single parents that they are partly to blame for poverty even though he admitted to having "virtually no knowledge in this field.”

    The Journal's failure to find a single Democratic or Republican supporter of Trump among 45 former presidential economic advisers follows an August 22 report from the paper that hundreds of business economists overwhelmingly prefer Clinton as the best candidate on the economy. Clinton received the support of 55 percent of 414 economists surveyed by the National Association of Business Economics (NABE). Trump drew votes from just 14 percent of NABE members, once again registering less support on the economy than Gary Johnson, who garned 15 percent.

    The almost complete lack of support for Trump on the economy comes despite months of the GOP nominee being the dominant force in cable news discussions of the economy -- thanks in part to appearing on Fox News’ Hannity 24 times during the first six months of 2016.

  • New Research Debunks Right-Wing Media Myths About Effects Of Paid Leave

    Research Suggests Paid Sick Leave Improves Public Health

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Several media outlets highlighted new research that found workers that had access to paid sick leave are less likely to come to work when contagious -- thus slowing the spread of diseases and improving overall public health. While this may seem like an obvious conclusion, right-wing media have criticized paid sick time and other forms of earned leave as unnecessary “giveaways” for low-wage workers.

  • Fox Business Guest Completely Dismantles Any Economic Case For Trump’s Presidency

    Robert Powell: “The Reality Is Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees”

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    During an appearance on Fox Business, former Economist editor Robert Powell dispelled claims from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign that the candidate’s tax and economic policy proposals would generate at least five consecutive years of economic growth in excess of 4 percent annually.

    Powell, who is now the global risk briefing manager for the Economist Intelligence Unit, a forecasting and advisory business operated by The Economist, was interviewed on the August 24 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co. Host Stuart Varney opened the segment by asking for a response to Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore’s guarantee earlier this week that the massive tax cuts proposed by the Republican nominee would generate sustained economic growth far outpacing anything witnessed in the United States since 1966. Along the way, Powell poked holes in the arguments in favor of the budget-busting supply-side tax cuts Trump and other Republicans have advocated for years as a silver bullet solution to economic malaise.

    Powell mocked Moore’s guarantee, noting that “the reality is money doesn’t grow on trees,” and slammed Trump’s tax plan for promising to add trillions of dollars to the debt -- far more than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s proposal might. He undermined Varney’s unsubstantiated claim that cutting taxes will kickstart economic expansion, and reminded the Fox Business audience that President Reagan actually had to raise taxes to regain revenue lost to early tax cuts. Powell noted that to make up for built-in revenue losses, the rate of economic expansion would actually have to hit 10 percent or more -- which is not a “feasible” rate of growth. Most importantly, he questioned why Varney and his Fox Business cohort are gripped with so much economic anxiety when “unemployment is 4.9 percent” and the American economy is doing “relatively well” and is “a star performer” when compared with other developed countries around the world. From Varney & Co.:

    Powell mentioned during the interview that The Economist does not believe either Trump’s or Clinton’s plan can meet Moore’s arbitrary growth threshold, stating that “we’re perfectly reasonable, and we don’t think Hillary Clinton will deliver 4 percent growth either.” But Powell did argue that Trump’s position on taxes and economic policy is “less responsible” than his Democratic opponent’s.

    Trump’s inherent lack of responsibility is why the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global risk forecast for September 2016 ranks Trump being elected president as a threat to the global economy that is as big as “the rising threat of jihadi terrorism” and “a clash of arms in the South China Sea,” the site of a territorial dispute between China and other neighboring countries, including U.S.-allied Taiwan:

    One of the things that went unsaid during the interview was how absurd it was for Varney to accept Trump’s 4 percent growth target in the first place. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the United States has not witnessed five consecutive years of growth in excess of 4 percent in five decades. When failed Republican candidate Jeb Bush first promoted the target in June 2015, experts slammed it as “impossible” and “nonsense.” Since then, arbitrary targets of 4 or 5 percent growth have been adopted by other GOP hopefuls, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and now Trump. For its part, Fox News has consistently fixated on setting arbitrary growth targets for the American economy in excess of 3 percent, which it claims is proof of a failed economic recovery under President Obama.

  • On Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, Media Highlight Plight Of Women Of Color In The Workplace

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    According to the most recently available data, African-American women on average are paid only 60 percent of what white men are paid in a year, meaning they would have to work almost nine additional months to catch up. August 23 is an annual day of action, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, focused on that issue, and numerous media outlets have noted the event by highlighting the plight of African-American women in the workforce.