Fox Throws Kitchen Sink Full Of Falsehoods At Obama On Day Before ElectionNovember 5, 2012 4:22 PM EST ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY, ZACHARY PLEAT, & KEVIN ZIEBER
Fox Claims "True Unemployment" Is Higher Than 7.9 Percent
Charles Payne: "True Unemployment" Number Includes "People Working Part-Time." Fox Business' Charles Payne called the official 7.9 percent unemployment rate "a little bit skewed." Payne instead pointed to an alternate measure of employment, the so-called "U-6" number, which includes some part-time workers and adults who are no longer in the workforce. Payne claimed the "true unemployment" number included the "official unemployed" and "people working part-time, but they don't want to work part-time":
CHARLES PAYNE: Let's talk about true unemployment, what the real unemployment picture is. Because that whole 7.9 percent thing is a little bit skewed. This is the magic number that Mitt Romney talked about in the first debate that really propelled him into, you know, to this tie with the president. Official unemployed: 12 million people. People working part-time: but they don't want to work part-time" Over 8 million. And people marginally attached. They're not really actively looking for a job but if someone called them up they'd run out in a heartbeat: 23 million. Layer on top of that in the last four years 8 million people who have actually quit the jobs market, and that's where you get the unemployment number being somewhat skewed.
My proposal really is that eventually I'd like us to have one set number that we match, like it's 65.5 percent unemployment participation rate. If that were the case the unemployment number, the unofficial number would be something like 10 and a half, 11 percent. So, you know, it's still abysmal.
Fox & Friends First aired the following chart, titled "True October 2012 Unemployment":
[Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 11/5/12]
But The "True Unemployment" Numbers Are Not What Fox Claims
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Does Not Consider Part-Time Workers Unemployed
BLS Spokesman: U-6 Is Not An "Unemployment Rate" Because It Includes People Who Are Employed Part-Time. In February, FactCheck.org quoted a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) spokesman who explained that "the agency does not refer to U-6" as an unemployment rate, instead using the official number which "has been calculated the same way for decades":
Romney calls the U-6 number the "real unemployment rate," but BLS spokesman Gary Steinberg said the agency does not refer to U-6 as any kind of "unemployment rate," real or otherwise, because it includes people who are employed, albeit part-time. The U-3 figure is the "official unemployment rate," Steinberg said, and has been calculated the same way for decades. [FactCheck.org, 2/10/12]
Wash. Post's Ezra Klein: "U6 Is Not An Unemployment Measure. It Includes Part-Time Workers." In a blog post published on October 5, The Washington Post's Ezra Klein pointed out that the U-6 number published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which includes part-time workers, "is not an unemployment measure because it includes part-time workers who want full time employment":
U6 is not an unemployment measure. It includes part-time workers who want full-time work. So it doesn't count the increase in part-time work. But every measure of actual unemployment -- U1, U2, U3, U4, and U5 -- went down. You can see them all here. Again, there's no mystery. [The Washington Post, WonkBlog, 10/5/12]
The Number Of Part-Time Workers Fell In October
BLS: "The Number Of Persons Employed Part Time For Economic Reasons" Fell In October. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of "involuntary" part-time workers fell in October:
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) fell by 269,000 to 8.3 million in October, partially offsetting an increase of 582,000 in September. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11/2/12]
Wall Street Journal: "In October, The Number Of Part-Time Workers Who Would Like Full-Time Jobs Tumbled By 269,000." The Wall Street Journal reported that "it's likely that most of part-timers were able to find full-time positions" in October:
In October, the number of part-time workers who would like full-time jobs tumbled by 269,000. That came after a big surge in September. The decline in the number of workers part-time for economic reasons could come from them either losing their jobs or finding full time work. But considering the very modest uptick in the number of unemployed, it's likely that most of part-timers were able to find full-time positions. [The Wall Street Journal, Real Time Economics, 11/2/12]
For more on the "true unemployment" numbers canard, see here.
Fox Repeats The Falsehood That Repealing Health Care Reform Act Could Lead To Increased Hiring
Fox's Lauren Simonetti: Repealing The Affordable Care Act Could "Be Good In Fact For Many Workers." Fox's Lauren Simonetti hinted that repealing the Affordable Care Act could positively affect hiring:
HEATHER CHILDERS (co-host): Mitt Romney if he gets in office, he promises that he's going to repeal Obamacare, the health care law. And that could change how some hiring is done.
LAUREN SIMONETTI (Fox Business reporter): Yeah, and that could be good in fact for many workers because while the new health care law says: Give anyone working at least 30 hours a week health insurance or pay a fee. Many bosses are doing neither. Instead, they are cutting back the hours giving their employees. And this is being seen mostly in the restaurant, retail, and hotel businesses. Already CKE Restaurants -- Carls Jr. -- and Darden Restaurants the owner of Red Lobster and Olive Garden they've shifted their hiring plans. But many more are expect to do so if Obama does win tomorrow's election. [Fox & Friends First, 11/5/12]
But Studies Say Health Care Reform Will Not Harm Employment
Urban Institute: Affordable Care Act "Will Not Have [A] Noticeable Effect On Net Levels Of Employment." In a report released on March 21 examining how the Affordable Care Act "will impact labor costs and the demand for labor," the Urban Institute concluded:
[T]he ACA will not have [a] noticeable effect on net levels of employment for three reasons -- (1) the net new expenditures are too small relative to the overall size of the economy; (2) the negative effects on jobs of Medicare premium cuts and new taxes will be offset by the expansion of coverage through Medicaid and income related subsidies that will likely increase employment; and (3) the new law will not affect the most firms either because they already provide private insurance that meets federal standards or they are exempt from the new requirements because they employ fewer than 50 workers. [Urban Institute, "How Will the Affordable Care Act Affect Jobs?" 3/21/11]
Urban Institute: "Cost-Containment Provisions In The ACA Will Boost The Economy And Employment Over Time." In addition, the report pointed out:
There are many cost-containment measures in the ACA, and other proposals could build on those measures if adopted. Cost containment would have somewhat opposite effects than the effects of coverage expansion. To the extent the cost-containment efforts are successful, they will reduce the growth in health care costs. This will reduce the demand for labor as well as incomes in the health care sector, but it will increase the discretionary income that individuals and families have to spend elsewhere. Thus, if these efforts are successful, there will be additional spending outside the health sector that will increase demand for labor in other sectors.
Curtailing the growth in health care costs will mean lower costs for businesses and individuals. The CEA [Council of Economic Advisers] has estimated that reducing the growth in health care costs by 1 percentage point per year would result in a 4.0 percent higher GDP by 2030,21 due to a higher national savings rate, more capital formation and higher output. Faster growth in GDP would mean more jobs, lower unemployment, and higher family incomes.
Cost-containment efforts, if successful, will have somewhat opposite effects, reducing the growth in spending on Medicare and Medicaid, which will reduce the taxes or borrowing the federal government has to undertake. Cost-containment that reduces the federal budget deficit would result in faster economic growth, more employment and higher family incomes. Cost-containment would also free up private dollars to be spent in non-health areas of the economy. [Urban Institute, "How Will the Affordable Care Act Affect Jobs?" 3/21/11]
MIT Economist: The Affordable Care Act Will Result In More Hiring In The Short Term And Likely "Boost The Economy" In The Long Run. MIT Economist Jonathan Gruber, who consulted with the Obama administration over the Affordable Care Act, wrote that the Affordable Care Act will create jobs in the medical profession and lead to an increase in consumer spending, which will "provide short-run stimulation to the economy and more hiring" and may "greatly improve the economy in the long run":
Forget death panels. Lately critics of the Affordable Care Act have been promoting a different claim--that "Obamacare" is a job-killer. Specifically, they say, it will stifle the economy with regulations and taxes. But the economic literature doesn't support this claim. If anything, it suggests the opposite: The Affordable Care Act will boost the economy.
By now, most people who follow politics know that the law will result in more than 30 million additional Americans getting health insurance. But what few realize is that, by expanding insurance coverage, the law will also increase economic activity. These newly insured individuals will demand more medical care than when they were uninsured. And while it takes many years to train a family physician or nurse practitioner, it doesn't take much time to train the assistants and technicians (and related support staff) who can fill much of this need. In many cases, these are precisely the sort of medium-skill jobs that our economy desperately needs -- and that the health care sector has already been providing, even during the recession.
More immediately, the increase in economic security for American families will also mean an increase in consumer spending. Many uninsured consumers are forced to set aside money in low interest liquid accounts to make sure they have enough to cover unexpected medical costs. With the security provided by health insurance, they can free that money up for consumption that is much more valuable to them. When the federal government expanded Medicaid in the 1990s, my own research has shown, the newly insured significantly increased their spending on consumer goods. More purchases of consumer goods will provide short-run stimulation to the economy and more hiring.
In sum, we know that the ACA will increase jobs in the medical sector in the short run, above and beyond any partial offsets from new excise taxes on that sector. We know that the ACA will improve the functioning of our labor market in the medium run, by allowing workers to move to the positions in which they are most productive and satisfied. We know that there will be little economic drag from taxes on the wealthy or the small equity payments imposed on employers. And there is a good chance that the ACA will greatly improve the economy in the long run by controlling the rate of health care cost increase. The choice between protecting our most vulnerable citizens and improving our economy is a false one--fully implementing the ACA will make both our citizens and our economy more secure. [The New Republic, 7/9/12]
Fox's Charles Payne Claims The Stock Market Crashed Since The Summer
Fox's Charles Payne: The Stock Market Crashed After The Summer. Fox's Charles Payne claimed that after doing better than expected during the summer of 2012, the stock market "crashed":
CHARLES PAYNE: The stock market, which initially -- because this summer was better than expected -- the market was up a little bit, and then it crashed. It went a lot lower, and I thought that was a pretty interesting sign. [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 11/5/12]
But The S&P 500 Has Seen Gains Large Gains Since Obama Took Office
Overall, The S&P 500 Growth Has Increased Significantly In 2012. From the St. Louis Federal Reserve:
[St. Louis Fed, accessed 11/5/12]
And The Average Has Doubled Since The Depths Of The Recession. The five-year performance of the S&P 500 from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank:
[St. Louis Fed, accessed 11/5/12]
Fox Pushed Bogus Comparison Of Obama And Reagan Recoveries From Recession
Fox Contributor: "No Doubt" Obama Inherited Bad Economy, "But So Did Ronald Reagan." Conservative columnist and Fox News contributor Deroy Murdock said on Fox & Friends that he gives Obama a "D" on the economy because, he "got a bad hand, no doubt, but so did Ronald Reagan, Reagan inherited a real mess after Jimmy Carter But he turned around and fixed it and improved it. Unfortunately for Obama, he definitely was handed a mess by big-spending G.W. Bush, and unfortunately he just made it worse." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/5/12]
But Economists Say Reagan-Era Fixes Can't Work This Time
Federal Reserve Interest Rate Cuts Were The Catalyst For The Reagan-Era Recovery
CBO: "Lower Interest Rates After Mid-1982 Permitted The Recovery To Begin." An August 1983 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report concluded that the recession under Reagan was caused by efforts to reduce inflation, and that the recovery was initiated by lowering interest rates:
The Economy At Mid-1983
Recovery started in December 1982 from the deepest postwar recession, the second of two since 1980. Both recessions were brought on by monetary restriction aimed at bringing inflation under control. Lower interest rates after mid-1982 permitted the recovery to begin. Real GNP grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate in the first quarter and at an 8.7 percent annual rate in the second quarter of 1983. [Congressional Budget Office, 8/1/83]
Even An Economist Who Worked For Reagan Suggested Interest Rate Cuts Drove The Economic Recovery. Michael Mussa, a member of Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, wrote in an essay for American Economic Policy in the 1980s that when the Federal Reserve cut the discount rate a half percentage point on July 20, 1982, it signaled "the beginning of what would become a four-and-a-half-year period of quite rapid monetary expansion. During this period, interest rates, both short and long term, would be driven significantly lower, and the U.S. economy would substantially recover from the devastation of both inflation and recession." [American Economic Policy in the 1980s, 1995]
Former CBO Director: Fed's Actions In '80s "Laid The Groundwork For A Very Rapid Recovery." Rudolph Penner, who directed the Congressional Budget Office during part of the Reagan administration, was quoted by CNNMoney explaining that the Fed's actions to lower inflation during the Reagan administration "was extremely successful" and "laid the groundwork for a very rapid recovery":
The recession of the early 1980s was caused by runaway inflation, which the Federal Reserve countered by hiking interest rates. When inflation dropped, the Fed lowered rates and a massive economic boom resulted.
"The monetary policy run by [Fed chairman] Paul Volcker was extremely successful," said Rudolph Penner, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. "When inflation went away, that laid the groundwork for a very rapid recovery."
The major causes of the recession that started in December 2007 were a banking crisis and housing bubble that exploded during President George W. Bush's final months in office. Plus, interest rates were already low heading into the recession. [CNNMoney, 2/6/12]
But The Fed Has Already Cut Interest Rates To Zero, So That Fix Won't Work Now
Krugman: "Right Now, The Interest Rate Is Zero. The Fed Can't Rescue Us This Time." During the February 6, 2009, edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Krugman noted: "In 1982, when the economy was deeply depressed, the Federal Reserve said, 'OK, we've got to do something about this,' and they cut interest rates from 13 percent to around 7 percent and the economy took off." Krugman continued: "Right now, the interest rate is zero. The Fed can't rescue us this time, and that's why we can't do the things we did in the '80s. We have to have an approach that harks back to the things that worked very well in the first four years of the New Deal until Franklin Roosevelt was persuaded to go orthodox all over again." [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 2/6/09, via Media Matters]
Reagan Economist Bartlett: Reagan Solution "Wouldn't Work Today." Reagan and H.W. Bush economist Bruce Bartlett wrote that "the economic expansion of the 1980s was powered by a combination of tax cuts, falling inflation, and lower interest rates," and explained that since income tax rates "are at a historic low" and inflation and and interest rates are virtually zero, "there is no possibility of replicating the experience of the early 1980s because economic and financial conditions now are virtually 180 degrees opposite from what they were then." He continued:
Making economic policy is not like making cookies and you can't use a cookie-cutter approach. Policies need to be crafted to the circumstances. I believe Reagan's policies were appropriate to the economic conditions of the early 1980s. Today's economic problems require a very different set of policies. [Capital Gains and Games, 8/13/11]
Fox Claims Obama Has Not Tried To Be Bipartisan
Fox: Romney, Unlike Obama, Will Be Bipartisan. Fox & Friends said Romney is "promising big changes," including bipartisanship. The co-hosts claimed Obama had never tried to be bipartisan:
STEVE DOOCY: [Romney is] promising that if he is elected, he'll bring people together from both sides. There will be bipartisanship.
GRETCHEN CARLSON: [Obama has] also said that he would work together and cross the aisle in the next four years --
DOOCY: Yeah, forget about those current two years.
CARLSON: Many people believe that, you know, with the first signature accomplishment being health care that was not bipartisan, they wonder whether or not that would not be the case in the following four years.
BRIAN KILMEADE: The stimulus package didn't get one Republican vote.
CARLSON: That's true. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/5/12]
But It Is Republicans, Not Obama, Who Are To Blame For Partisan Gridlock
Obama Legislation Has Had Bipartisan Support, Incorporated Republican Ideas
Obama's Stimulus Plan Received Republican Votes. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus, passed with 61 votes in the Senate, including three Republicans, Sens. Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), Arlen Specter (PA) who was a Republican at the time. [Senate Roll Call, 2/10/09]
Obama: "When You Say I Ought To Be Willing To Accept Republican Ideas On Health Care, Let's Be Clear: I Have." From remarks made by the president at his January 29, 2010 meeting with House Republicans:
This is a big problem, and all of us are called on to solve it. And that's why, from the start, I sought out and supported ideas from Republicans. I even talked about an issue that has been a holy grail for a lot of you, which was tort reform, and said that I'd be willing to work together as part of a comprehensive package to deal with it. I just didn't get a lot of nibbles.
Creating a high-risk pool for uninsured folks with preexisting conditions, that wasn't my idea, it was Senator McCain's. And I supported it, and it got incorporated into our approach. Allowing insurance companies to sell coverage across state lines to add choice and competition and bring down costs for businesses and consumers -- that's an idea that some of you I suspect included in this better solutions; that's an idea that was incorporated into our package. And I support it, provided that we do it hand in hand with broader reforms that protect benefits and protect patients and protect the American people.
A number of you have suggested creating pools where self-employed and small businesses could buy insurance. That was a good idea. I embraced it. Some of you supported efforts to provide insurance to children and let kids remain covered on their parents' insurance until they're 25 or 26. I supported that. That's part of our package. I supported a number of other ideas, from incentivizing wellness to creating an affordable catastrophic insurance option for young people that came from Republicans like Mike Enzi and Olympia Snowe in the Senate, and I'm sure from some of you as well. So when you say I ought to be willing to accept Republican ideas on health care, let's be clear: I have. [WhiteHouse.gov, 1/29/10]
For more examples of how Republican ideas were included in the Affordable Care Act, click here.
CNN: "Obama Signs Bipartisan Transportation, Student Loan Bill." CNN reported in July that the bipartisan transportation and student loan bill Obama signed was praised by "Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, and James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican":
President Barack Obama signed on Friday a transportation funding and student loan bill which passed Congress last week in a rare election-year compromise between Republicans and Democrats. In an unusual show of bipartisanship, members of both parties were on hand for the White House ceremony, including members of the administration, Congress, as well as state and local governments.
After the law passed, the top two senators involved in the negotiations -- Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, and James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican -- released a joint statement praising the bipartisan work. [CNN, 7/6/12]
Associated Press: "Obama Signs Bipartisan Bill To Help Jobless Vets." An Associated Press article in November 2011 with the headline "Obama Signs Bipartisan Bill To Help Jobless Vets" noted that "The veterans' legislation had overwhelming support from both parties":
Heralding a rare moment of bipartisan agreement, President Barack Obama signed into law Monday legislation aimed at helping unemployed veterans find work while putting more cash in the hands of companies with government contracts. The legislation, which creates tax breaks for companies that hire jobless veterans, marks the first proposal from Obama's $447 billion jobs bill to be signed into law.
The veterans' legislation had overwhelming support from both parties, with the House passing the measure 422-0 and the Senate approving it 95-0.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said passage of the bill showed that it is possible for both parties to reach a consensus. [Associated Press, 11/21/11, via NBC]
The Hill: "Obama Signs Bipartisan FDA Bill." The Hill reported in July that the Food and Drug Administration bill signed by Obama had "broad bipartisan support":
President Obama on Monday signed the bipartisan Food and Drug Administration bill that Congress approved last month. Obama signed the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, which reauthorizes user fees that the FDA collects from the drug and medical-device industries.
Both the House and Senate moved the FDA legislation quickly and with broad bipartisan support. [The Hill, 7/9/12]
Republicans Plotted Since Obama's 2009 Inauguration To Block His Policies
Republicans Held Secret Meeting On How To Block Obama's Agenda On The Very Day He Was Inaugurated. Journalist Robert Draper reported that on the day of Obama's inauguration, Republicans in Congress and conservative strategists held a secret meeting in which they plotted ways to "put the brakes on Obama's legislative platform." Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told the group: "You'll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown":
As President Barack Obama was celebrating his inauguration at various balls, top Republican lawmakers and strategists were conjuring up ways to submarine his presidency at a private dinner in Washington.
The event -- which provides a telling revelation for how quickly the post-election climate soured -- serves as the prologue of Robert Draper's much-discussed and heavily-reported new book, "Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives."
According to Draper, the guest list that night (which was just over 15 people in total) included Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, several years removed from his presidential campaign, and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith. Notably absent were Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) -- who, Draper writes, had an acrimonious relationship with Luntz.
For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama's legislative platform.
"If you act like you're the minority, you're going to stay in the minority," Draper quotes McCarthy as saying. "We've gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign."
"You will remember this day," Draper reports Newt Gingrich as saying on the way out. "You'll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown." [The Huffington Post, 4/25/12]
Republican Senate Leader McConnell: "The Single Most Important Thing We Want To Achieve Is For President Obama To Be A One-Term President." In an October 23, 2010 interview with the National Journal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." [The Washington Post, The Fact Checker, 9/25/12]
GOP Senators Made Clear They Didn't Intend To Negotiate With Democrats In Good Faith On Health Care Reform
- Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC): "If We're Able To Stop Obama On This It Will Be His Waterloo. It Will Break Him." During a July 17, 2009 conference call organized by the anti-health care reform group Conservatives for Patients' Rights, Senator Jim DeMint said "If we're able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him" while discussing health care reform. [Media Matters, 11/8/10]
- Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ): "Almost All Republicans" Will Oppose Democratic Health Care Reform Efforts. Sen. John Kyl reportedly admitted on August 18, 2009, that "almost all Republicans" will oppose Democratic health care reform efforts, regardless of the compromises Democrats might make in attempting to win their support. [Media Matters, 11/8/10]
- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): The "Government-Run Plan" Could Decide "If You're Going To Pull The Plug On Grandma." Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley during an August 2009 town hall meeting told the audience they "have every right to fear" the end-of-life counseling provision in the House bill, adding that the "government-run plan" could decide "if you're going to pull the plug on grandma." During an August 2009 interview, Grassley also admitted he wouldn't vote for his own bill if the GOP remained opposed. [Media Matters, 11/8/10]
GOP Engaged in Historic Obstruction Of Obama Judicial Nominees. In June, Senate Republicans announced they "are shutting off the bipartisan spigot when it comes to confirming President Barack Obama's nominees to the nation's top courts and will present a unified front against his circuit court picks through November." [Roll Call, 6/14/12]
Republicans Refused To Negotiate On The Federal Deficit. As The Economist reported, "The opposition by Mr. Ryan and his two fellow House Republicans" to a bipartisan agreement on spending, taxes, and the federal deficit "more or less guaranteed the plan would die." [The Economist, 1/7/11]
Republican Obstruction Blocked Immigration Reform. In 2010, Senate Republicans blocked Obama's attempt to pass the DREAM Act -- which would allow certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to stay. The DREAM Act passed the House. But as ABC News reported, the Republicans killed the DREAM Act in the Senate when it "failed to win the 60 votes needed to break a GOP filibuster." [Media Matters, 8/30/12]
Congressional Experts: Republicans Are "At The Core Of The Problem" Of A Dysfunctional Washington. In an April 27 Washington Post op-ed, Brookings Institution senior fellow Thomas E. Mann and American Enterprise Institute scholar Norman J. Ornstein stated that Washington politics are more dysfunctional than they had ever witnessed and "the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party":
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.
The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country's challenges.
"Both sides do it" or "There is plenty of blame to go around" are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach. [The Washington Post, 4/27/12]
Fox Repeated Right-Wing Canard That Obama Went On An "Apology Tour"
Fox's Doocy: President Obama "Went On That Apology Tour." During a discussion about veterans' support for the presidential candidates, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said active-duty military personnel are "upset that the President of the United States initially went on that apology tour." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/5/12]
Reality: There Was No "Apology Tour"
Associated Press: "Obama Has Not Apologized For America." The Associated Press has written that Obama "never made" any apologies and added:
ROMNEY: "A few months into office, he traveled around the globe to apologize for America."
THE FACTS: Obama has not apologized for America. What he has done, in travels early in his presidency and since, is to make clear his belief that the U.S. is not beyond reproach. He has told foreigners that the U.S. at times acted "contrary to our traditions and ideals" in its treatment of terrorist suspects, that "America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy," that the U.S. "certainly shares blame" for international economic turmoil and has sometimes shown arrogance toward allies. Obama, whose criticisms of America's past were typically balanced by praise, was in most cases taking issue with policies or the record of the previous administration, not an unusual approach for a new president -- or a presidential candidate. Romney's actual point seems to be that Obama has been too critical of his country.
But there has been no formal -- or informal -- apology. No saying "sorry" on behalf of America. [Associated Press, 6/3/11]
PolitiFact Has Repeatedly Labeled "Ridiculous" Apology Claim "False." PolitiFact has repeatedly labeled Romney's claim that Obama "apologized" for America "false," saying "it's a ridiculous charge." [PolitiFact, 9/22/11, 1/20/12]
Wash. Post Fact Checker: "The Apology Tour Never Happened." The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler gave the repeated charge that Obama has apologized for America its worst rating of "Four Pinocchios":
The claim that Obama repeatedly has apologized for the United States is not borne out by the facts, especially if his full quotes are viewed in context.
Obama often was trying to draw a rhetorical distinction between his policies and that of President Bush, a common practice when the presidency changes parties. The shift in policies, in fact, might have been more dramatic from Clinton to Bush than from Bush to Obama, given how Obama has largely maintained Bush's approach to fighting terrorism.
In other cases, Obama's quotes have been selectively trimmed for political purposes. Or they were not much different than sentiments expressed by Bush or his secretary of state. Republicans may certainly disagree with Obama's handling of foreign policy or particular policies he has pursued, but they should not invent a storyline that does not appear to exist.
Note to GOP speechwriters and campaign ad makers: The apology tour never happened. [The Washington Post, The Fact Checker, 2/22/11]
Fox: America Is Not Better Off Under Obama Than It Was Four Years Ago
Fox's Browne: "Not Many Americans Can Say" They're Better Off Than They Were Four Years Ago. Fox & Friends First co-host Patti Anne Browne said: "So President Reagan asked years ago, 'are you better off today than four years ago?' " She continued: "Not many people right now can say yes to that, almost four years into the Obama administration." [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 11/5/12]
Fact: The Economy Has Improved Since Obama Took Office
Economist Dean Baker: Claim That The Economy Isn't Improving Is "Silly Nonsense." On the February 4 broadcast of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio, economist Dean Baker said Fox host Sean Hannity's claim that "you can't say the economy is improving" was "silly nonsense." Baker continued: "The economy was in a state of free fall when President Obama took office ... We were losing 700,000 jobs a month, that was the reality. You can't blame President Obama for it, that was the day he took office." He concluded that since then, "The economy has grown and we've seen unemployment fall." [SiriusXM, Media Matters Radio, 2/4/12]
THEN: Months Before Obama Took Office Saw Largest Economic Contraction In A Half Century. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that gross domestic product declined at an 8.9 percent annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2008 -- the final quarter before President Obama took office. According to IHS Global Insight, GDP decline at the end of 2008 "represents the worst single-quarter decline in GDP since the 10.4 percent drop in the first quarter of 1958." ["Latest GDP Report Shows U.S. Recession Was Deeper and Recovery More Anemic Than Previously Thought," IHS Global Insight, 7/29/11]
NOW: The Economy Has Grown For 13 Consecutive Quarters. In an "Economic Recovery Watch" post updated on November 2, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) wrote that although "the pace of recovery has been modest," the economy "has been growing for 13 straight quarters." The post included this chart:
["Chart Book: The Legacy of the Great Recession," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, updated 11/2/12]
THEN: Nearly 2 Million Jobs Were Lost In Three Months Before Obama Took Office. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment decreased by 803,000 jobs in November 2008, 661,000 jobs in December 2008, and 818,000 jobs in January 2009 -- a total of 2.2 million jobs in three months. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed 9/2/12]
NOW: Private Sector Employment Has Grown For 29 Months Adding Millions Of Jobs. In the same post, CBPP noted that "private employers [have] added 5.0 million jobs to their payrolls in the last 32 months, an average of 155,000 jobs a month." The post included the following chart:
["Chart Book: The Legacy of the Great Recession," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, updated 11/2/12]
To see Fox previously misleading about whether Americans are better off now than they were four years ago, click here.