Economy

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  • Ryan's "Better Way" Poverty Plan Is Based On Myths From Right-Wing Media

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the Republican-led Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility released the GOP’s latest policy plan to cut government anti-poverty assistance programs. Many of the arguments in favor of Ryan’s proposed reforms are based on easily debunked right-wing media myths and poor-shaming. Ryan’s rhetoric in this poverty “reform” agenda -- titled “A Better Way to Fight Poverty” -- is gentler than in his previous policy proposals. But his plans are still based on myths, and his solutions once again are focused on gutting vital programs designed to assist Americans struggling to make ends meet and families in need.

  • Paul Ryan Parrots Right-Wing Media Talking Points To Smear DC’s Minimum Wage Increase

    Ryan’s Agenda To Lift Americans Out Of Poverty Skips Over Raising Sub-Poverty Minimum Wages

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) concluded a June 7 press conference meant to highlight his recent proposals to reform federal anti-poverty programs by confirming that he remains opposed to initiatives aimed at raising local, state, and federal minimum wages. Ryan’s stated opposition to the minimum wage recycles easily debunked right-wing media myths about the supposed negative side-effects of living wages.

    On June 7, the speaker released a report from the Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility. The plan outlines a number of standard conservative proposals to “reform” anti-poverty programs in the United States, but one thing it almost completely ignores is the minimum wage. In fact, the lone mention of the word “minimum wage” appears as part of an argument pushing the debunked “Welfare Cliff” myth, the claim that low-income, single moms are so heavily subsidized by government benefits that they have no incentive to pursue professional advancement.

    At the conclusion of his press conference, Ryan was asked by two reporters to comment on a plan in Washington, D.C. to raise the municipal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020 and then index it to inflation. In just over a minute, Ryan proceeded to parrot numerous debunked charges commonly leveled against the minimum wage by right-wing antagonists. From CNN Newsroom:

    Ryan’s anti-minimum wage talking points are either misleading, or outright false. Ryan also missed basic facts of D.C.’s minimum wage initiative, which the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates will result in increased wages for one-fifth of the city’s private sector workers.

    Increasing The Minimum Wage Does Not Hurt Entry-Level Workers

    Ryan claimed that raising the minimum wage “prices entry-level jobs away from people” before engaging in the common right-wing media tactic of reciting a story of his own youthful experiences working in the fast-food industry.

    Right-wing media frequently claim that minimum wage positions are meant to be entry-level jobs (usually just for teenagers), but the fact is that the majority of minimum wage workers are adults over the age of 25 and less than one-quarter of minimum wage workers are aged 16 to 19. Women make up a disproportionate number of minimum wage workers, and according to July 2015 research from EPI, stand to benefit considerably from an increased minimum wage.

    Fast-Food Jobs Were Never The First Rung On A Ladder Of Upward Mobility

    Ryan claimed that working at McDonald’s was “a great way to learn skills,” a wage and job mobility myth about fast food workers frequently parroted by right-wing media. But according to a July 2013 report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), the fast-food industry is particularly bad at providing actual opportunities for advancement to low-wage workers. Entry-level workers account for 89 percent of fast food industry workers, and only a tiny fraction move on to management or ownership positions.

    Economic Growth And Job Creation Is Not Enough To Curb Poverty

    Ryan concluded his remarks by saying that he does not want to “cap” wages, he wants to “unleash[]” them, and institute policies that create “the kind of economy, and economic growth … that help get people better jobs, in a better economy, that has a more promising future for them.” Those claims echo a common right-wing media myth, that economic growth can indirectly lift millions of Americans out of poverty without the need for targeted programs.

    But the budget, economic, and tax proposals Ryan and his fellow Republicans repeatedly support do not generate the economic growth they promise. The trickle-down economic principles he has spent a career endorsing are a proven failure.

    If economic growth alone was the key to solving poverty and reducing economic inequality, both would have been wiped out decades ago. According to a January 29 report from the Brookings Institution, the relationship between economic growth and improved economic inclusion is “relatively weak” across the United States. The Brookings research seems to support a hypothesis endorsed by economists Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and Elise Gould of the EPI, who argue that economic growth alone is not enough to reduce economic insecurity in the face of persistent inequality.

  • Review-Journal Drums Up College Debt Myths To Blame Borrowers For Student Debt Crisis

    ››› ››› JARED HOLT

    An editorial published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal insisted that student debt is “manageable for most students” and recycled previously debunked conservative talking points to fault student loan forgiveness programs and federal aid for America’s college debt crisis. The paper also echoed right-wing myths to argue that tuition “costs inevitably go up” in response to low-interest federal loans and dismiss progressive concerns about for-profit schools.

  • Are Paul Ryan’s Poverty Reforms Still Trump-Endorsed?

    Media Should Question The Speaker And Presumptive GOP Nominee About The Compatibility Of Their Poverty Proposals

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) have engaged in a war of words regarding Trump’s racist attack on the federal judge presiding over two class action lawsuits against Trump University. Despite the recent infighting, Trump and Ryan seem to agree in principle on the latter’s vision for a complete overhaul of federal anti-poverty programs. Reporters need to ask the Republican nominee, and the speaker, if the Ryan reform agenda is truly Trump-endorsed.

    During an appearance on the June 5 edition of CBS’ Face the Nation, host John Dickerson asked Trump to comment on Ryan’s June 2 endorsement of his presidential candidacy. Trump responded that he found Ryan “appealing” because “he’s a good man” who “wants good things for the country.” Trump said that he expected to “agree on many things” with the highest-ranking elected Republican in the country, specifically citing Ryan’s positions on poverty:

    Trump’s decision to bring up Ryan’s supposed zeal to “take people out of poverty” was no accident, as it had been widely reported that the speaker planned to roll out his renewed poverty reform agenda in the coming days. On June 7, Ryan released a report from the so-called Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility.

    The report was nothing new for Ryan, closely echoing the positions espoused during the speaker’s sham poverty forum in January and his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in March. It struck a softer tone than the overt poor-shaming Ryan has promoted in the past, but it still pushed the same kinds of policies that MSNBC’s Steve Benen previously slammed as “brutal” for the poor.

    During Ryan’s June 7 press conference announcing the proposed poverty program reforms, he repeatedly stated that his plan would have “a better likelihood of passing” if Trump were president of the United States. From the June 7 edition of CNN Newsroom:

    Media outlets are notorious for stumbling into the role of Ryan’s public relations outfit, frequently portraying his budget, economic, and tax reform policies as serious proposals rather than right-wing agenda items. The instinct to treat Ryan as a voice of reason has been particularly pronounced since the speaker decided to zero in on poverty.

    Ryan has now formally endorsed Trump for president, and Trump has tacitly endorsed Ryan’s proposed reforms. Now that the final plan has been made public, reporters need to ask Trump if he actually endorses Ryan’s plan. And they should ask Ryan if he can accept the endorsement of a man whom he just accused of engaging in “the textbook definition of a racist comment” with his attacks on a Hispanic federal judge.

  • Will The Media Fall For Paul Ryan’s Sham Poverty Proposals Again?

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    With Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan slated to release a new proposal to “reform” American anti-poverty programs on June 7, media should be aware of his long history of promoting “far-right” and “backward-looking” policies that would enact draconian cuts to vital programs for families in need and actually "exacerbate poverty, inequality, and wage stagnation."

  • Conservatives Spark Attack On Latino Civil Rights Organization For Helping Hispanic Homeowners

    Right-Wing Media Falsely Claim That Settlement Payments From Institutions Responsible For The Financial Crisis Create “Liberal Slush Fund” For Progressive Groups

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Right-wing media have spent years attacking the Department of Justice’s handling of multi-billion dollar settlements from financial institutions partly responsible for the housing and financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Conservative outlets falsely allege that the DOJ used settlement payments to create a “liberal slush fund” to disburse millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations like the nonpartisan National Council of La Raza (NCLR), even though these groups are certified housing counseling agencies.

  • National Review Smears Labor Secretary Tom Perez As A “Radical” And “Ideologue” For Supporting Workers

    Attacks On The Labor Secretary Come Amid Speculation That Perez Could Be Hillary Clinton’s Pick For Vice President

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    The National Review recycled debunked myths and smeared Labor Secretary Thomas Perez for standing up to big business and expanding overtime protections for workers as speculation mounts that he may be Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s pick for vice president.

    National Review described Perez as “[t]he Obama administration’s most radical and relentless ideologue” in a June 2 column by correspondent Jim Geraghty, replete with right-wing media myths about the potential contender for vice president. Although the column admitted that Perez’s “liberal credentials are as impeccable as they come” it still lambasted the Labor Secretary for advocating for labor and expanding overtime protections for salaried workers. National Review quoted Iain Murray of the right-wing Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) who claimed this expansion of worker protections for people making up to $47,476 is “probably the most fundamental attack on the free-enterprise system going on at present” (emphasis added):

    Perez’s liberal credentials are as impeccable as they come. Mother Jones called him “one of the administration’s most stalwart progressives.” Conservative policy experts who have followed his work in the Justice and Labor Departments consider him perhaps the Obama administration’s most radical and relentless ideologue.

    Iain Murray, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s vice president of strategy, calls Perez “possibly the most dangerous person in the administration right now.”

    “His rewriting of U.S. labor law is probably the most fundamental attack on the free-enterprise system going on at present,” Murray says. “If he has his way, we won’t just revert to the 1930s. We’ll do things that even Franklin Roosevelt couldn’t do, like eliminate vast numbers of independent-contractor jobs and unionize those that remain.”

    Murray sees Perez’s ideological vision as driven by an arrogant insistence that most workers are oblivious to their own exploitation by employers, and need the state to intervene to help them understand proper “work-life balance” or to make basic choices about work.

    Right-wing media repeatedly assailed the new overtime rules released by the Department of Labor (DOL) on May 17, which will expand overtime pay protections to 4.2 million additional American workers previously exempt from compensation under outdated provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

    But experts have found that these new protections are long overdue. The National Employment Law Project (NELP) found the new overtime rule “will rectify” the problem of wage protections guaranteed by the FLSA that have been “steadily erod[ing] since the late 1970s.” The overtime update is particularly important for women -- especially women of color and working mothers -- as the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) found “women are now the sole or co-breadwinner in half of American families with young children.”

    Right-wing media smears against Tom Perez have been ongoing since his confirmation hearings for Labor Secretary began in 2013 and are frequently laced with racially charged language in addition to debunked misinformation. Then-Fox contributor Michelle Malkin has baselessly called Perez an "extremist race-baiter," and frequent Fox guest J. Christian Adams has falsely claimed that Perez's leadership of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division saw it "infested with racial animus." Republican lawmakers later regurgitated these falsehoods and claimed that the division under Perez's leadership was itself racist. Right-wing talk radio host Mark Levin also called Perez an “Ethno-Thug[],” and the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal stooped to claiming the only reason to confirm Perez for Secretary of Labor was his “Spanish surname” -- a reductionist line of attack also used by The National Review, which remarked Perez’s “Dominican heritage means he checks the box as a Latino.”

  • How Conservative Media Enabled Trump’s Outrageous Lies

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS & JARED HOLT

    Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and conservative media figures repeatedly enabled each other to spread baseless smears and outright lies throughout the Republican presidential primary election cycle. Voices in conservative media repeatedly legitimized Trump’s debunked conspiracies, policy proposals, and statistics, some of which echoed longtime narratives from prominent right-wing media figures.

  • Fox & Friends Hosts Discredited Academic To Push Faulty Anti-Immigrant Report

    Jason Richwine Has Argued That Latinos Will Never Reach IQ Parity With Whites

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News hosted anti-immigrant, discredited academic Jason Richwine -- who once claimed Latinos may “never reach IQ parity” with whites -- to peddle shoddy research painting immigrants as a fiscal burden. Richwine used the Fox platform to hype his anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) report, which experts have called “fundamentally flawed" and pushes spurious claims about immigrants and welfare.

    Fox & Friends hosts allowed Richwine to hype his May 9 CIS report that claimed immigrant-headed households receive more welfare than households headed by native-born people. Experts called the findings “fundamentally flawed” and misleading, but Fox host Tucker Carlson called them “almost unbelievable” and “shocking.”

    TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): These numbers are almost unbelievable. I'm assuming they're true, they're shocking. I want to put up on the screen the amount in welfare that the average illegal immigrant gets every year. $5,692 versus American families $4,431. What kind of country gives more benefits to illegal aliens than to its own citizens?

    JASON RICHWINE: Well, you know, Tucker, it's actually, it's all immigrant households, not just illegal. It's legal and illegal. They both receive a very large amount of welfare. In fact, actually, about half of all immigrant households receive some form of welfare. And you see the numbers on the screen there. So it's quite large. To me, the biggest takeaway from this is that there is something fundamentally wrong with your immigration system when immigrants are receiving more welfare than natives.

    [...]

    CARLSON: Or at least have a public debate about it, which as of right now is not allowed at all, as you know. So the basic justification for the record high immigration levels we have now, 3 million people in the last two years, is that our economy needs it. They're the engine of the economy. It's a net plus to America economically. But these numbers suggest the opposite.

    RICHWINE: Immigration certainly raises GDP, but almost all of that money goes to the immigrants themselves. There's really only a small sliver that ends up going to natives and, in exchange for that sliver, there's a very large redistribution of money from labor to capital.

    Jason Richwine wrote in 2009 that Hispanics and blacks have lower IQs than white people, has penned articles for a “nationalist” website, and has tied himself to a network of anti-immigrant nativists. Richwine resigned from conservative think tank Heritage Foundation after co-authoring a shoddy, heavily criticized anti-immigration report.

    CIS has ties to hate groups in the nativist lobby, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and has been repeatedly criticized for its shoddy research.

  • Trump's Economic Policy Team Spreads Right-Wing Media Lie Tying Clintons To Housing Crisis

    Larry Kudlow And Stephen Moore Attempt To Distract Media Scrutiny Of Trump’s Statement On Housing Crisis By Attacking Clintons

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Right-wing economic pundits Larry Kudlow and Stephen Moore claimed that Bill and Hillary Clinton are partly to blame for the housing crisis that rocked the economy during the Bush administration because of their support of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a program intended to expand American home ownership. Kudlow and Moore, who both have served as economic policy advisers to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, pushed this repeatedly debunked myth while attempting to deflect attention from Trump's 2006 statement relishing the potential profits he could reap during a housing and financial crisis.

    Kudlow and Moore falsely claimed Hillary Clinton was partly responsible for the housing crash in a May 29 op-ed in The Washington Times, adding that she has no right to lambast Trump for stating in 2006 that he had hoped the housing market crashes so he could buy properties cheaply. Trump has faced continued scrutiny over this statement. New York magazine even called it “a new, lurid reason why he should never be president” and media interest only grew after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called the GOP front-runner “a small insecure money grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt so long as he makes money off it.” From Kudlow and Moore’s Washington Times piece:

    It turns out that Donald Trump has been very good at buying low and selling high, and it helps account for his amazing business success.

    Now Hillary Clinton seems to think it’s a crime. Campaigning in California last week she’s wailed that Mr. Trump “actually said he was hoping for the crash that caused hard working families in California and across America to lose their homes, all because he thought he could take advantage of it to make some money for himself.” She’s assailing Mr. Trump for being a good businessman — something she would know almost nothing about because she’s never actually run a business, though she did miraculously turn $1,000 into $1 million in the cattle futures market many years ago.

    [...]

    What is so hypocritical about the Clinton attacks is that it wasn’t Trump, but Hillary, her husband, and many of her biggest supporters who were the real culprits here.

    Kudlow and Moore’s anti-Clinton attack is based on their claim that expanding access to mortgages to help low-income Americans buy homes was part of the catalyst for the housing crisis. The two also claimed that then-Sen. Hillary Clinton “went to bat for the housing industry” -- ignoring that Clinton actually pushed for tougher regulations on the financial industry in 2007.

    Top economists reject the idea that President Clinton and his policies are to blame for the financial crisis -- including the current and former Federal Reserve chairs from Republican and Democratic administrations. Former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke disputed this myth in a November 2008 statement demonstrating that after studying the CRA for over 30 years the Federal Reserve's findings “runs counter to the charge that CRA was at the root of ... current mortgage difficulties." Current Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen found that the CRA did not cause problems but instead the CRA increased “responsible lending” in a March 2008 speech when she was the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

    Kudlow and Moore have a long and well-documented history of distorting facts on the economy. Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has spent years documenting Moore's repeated failures in economic policy, recently slammed the right-wing commentator’s "impressive lack of even minimal technical competence." Kudlow has made many statements berating Americans and even lectured single parents about poverty at an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) -- even though he admitted to having "virtually no knowledge in this field."

  • Fox Takes Clinton Out Of Context In Effort To Distract From Trump’s Hope For Housing Crisis

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox & Friends deceptively edited a 2007 video of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to claim that Clinton blamed homeowners for the housing market crash and that she is “flip flopping now” to blame Wall Street. But the speech transcript shows that Clinton indeed blamed Wall Street and a host of other financial actors, saying Wall Street “helped create the foreclosure crisis” and bears “responsibility” for the crash. Fox also downplayed Donald Trump’s expressed hope for a financial crisis in 2006, instead blaming former President Bill Clinton for a market crash and historic recession that occurred during the waning days of the Bush administration.

  • STUDY: Sunday Shows Less Likely Than Weekday Competitors To Discuss Poverty

    Fox News Talks A Lot About Inequality And Poverty, But Promotes Policies That Would Make The Problems Worse

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    In the first quarter of 2016, prime-time and evening weekday news programs on the largest cable and broadcast outlets mentioned poverty during roughly 55 percent of their discussions of economic inequality in the United States. During the same time period, Sunday political talk shows mentioned poverty in only 33 percent of discussions of economic inequality.