Karl Rove reappeared on Fox News to parrot his own political organization's view on the deficit negotiations without disclosing his ties to the group. Rove's commentary came just six days after it was reported that Fox had limited Rove's appearances following his "election-night tantrum" over Romney's loss -- yet Fox still failed to disclose Rove's involvement with Crossroads GPS, which has aired an ad on this issue.
Appearing on Special Report to discuss the deficit reduction negotiations, Rove pushed the Republican claim that U.S. debt is a "spending problem" rather than a revenue problem. He cited Office of Management and Budget (OMB) statistics to claim that "we're back above the revenue level we had" in 2008 but that spending has increased by almost $900 billion since then:
Rove said that "Republicans are emphasizing savings" from spending cuts in social insurance programs and concluded that "[w]e got to find fundamental reforms that allow us to save money."
But economists say that decreased revenue is a major cause of the deficit. According to the Tax Policy Center, federal revenue as a percentage of GDP was 15.4 percent in 2011 and 15.1 percent in 2010. These are the lowest figures since 1950 -- and well below the post-World War II average.
And Rove's choice of numbers paints a misleading picture. The OMB's 2013 figures, which are estimates, are higher for both outlays and revenues than the latest available data, which are for 2011. Total revenues in 2011 were $2.3 trillion -- which is still less than the figure for 2008, so the U.S. is not yet "back above the revenue level we had" in 2008.
Rove's attack echoes an ad released last Wednesday by Crossroads GPS, a political organization which Karl Rove co-founded, which also attacks Obama for allegedly not cutting government spending enough. After playing a clip of Obama saying, "If we're serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue," the ad continues:
NARRATOR: But so far, a huge tax increase is his solution. No real spending reforms. Instead, more taxes. The time for politics has ended. We need bi-partisan ideas we can all support. Call President Obama and tell him it's time to show us a balanced plan. Because every day wasted is another $4 billion we're deeper in debt.
Yet Fox host Bret Baier did not disclose Rove's role with Crossroads GPS -- Baier only introduced him as a "former top adviser to President George W. Bush." Another News Corp. outlet, The Wall Street Journal, failed to disclose Rove's ties to the Super PAC American Crossroads and its related organization Crossroads GPS in his columnist bio until just weeks before the election.
Last Tuesday, New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman reported that Fox News mandated that producers "get permission before booking Rove" or Fox pundit Dick Morris. It seemed, Sherman wrote, that Fox chief Roger Ailes wanted "the faces associated with the election off the air."
But Fox News has long had an ethical problem when it comes to giving Karl Rove airtime. Fox has a history of promoting ads from Rove's Crossroads organizations. After the election, it was reported that Rove's Crossroads groups were "gearing up for a lobbying and advertising campaign focused on budget, energy and health care issues," beginning with the current deficit negotiations.