While interviewing Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity repeated the false claim that "[s]ixty-one" Guantánamo detainees who have been released are "back on the battlefield" to support his assertion that President Barack Obama is "an ideologue." Hannity and Giuliani also repeated the claims that fiscal stimulus packages were ineffective during the Great Depression and during Japan's "lost decade," but both those claims have been challenged by economists.
During the January 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity, while interviewing former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, host Sean Hannity repeated the false claim that "[s]ixty-one people we know now were released [from Guantánamo] and now they're back on the battlefield" to support his assertion that President Barack Obama is "an ideologue." Hannity and Giuliani also repeated the claims that fiscal stimulus packages were ineffective during the Great Depression and during Japan's "lost decade," but both those claims have been challenged by economists.
Contrary to Hannity's claim that "[s]ixty-one" detainees who have been released are "back on the battlefield," according to the Pentagon, that figure includes 43 former prisoners who are suspected of, but have not been confirmed as, having "return[ed] to the fight," as Media Matters for America has documented. Indeed, during a January 13 press conference, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell stated: "The new numbers are, we believe, 18 confirmed and 43 suspected of returning to the fight. So 61 in all former Guantanamo detainees are confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight." Moreover, even the Pentagon's claim that it has confirmed that 18 former Guantánamo detainees have returned to the battlefield has been challenged by experts.
In addition, after Giuliani stated, "[I]f you think you're going to get your way out of this recession by all kinds of social programs, welfare programs, you're just going to make it much worse," Hannity claimed: "[T]he Japanese economy was suffering, in the '90s, they had eight separate stimulus packages that created, in their history, massive debt. It was unprecedented. And it didn't work." However, as Media Matters documented, according to prominent economists, economic conditions were improving in Japan before the Japanese government temporarily abandoned stimulus spending in an attempt to reduce the deficit. Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, for one, points to Japan's fiscal stimulus packages as having "probably prevented a weak economy from plunging into an actual depression."
Moreover, Hannity allowed Giuliani to suggest that stimulus spending during the Great Depression did not work. Giuliani claimed that "the actions of the New Deal, which may have had other reasons for them, did not work from the point of view of solving the Depression. In fact, by 1936, '37, '38, the Depression was arguably just as bad as it was in 1929." But as Media Matters has documented, the suggestion that the New Deal failed has been flatly rejected by some prominent economists, including Krugman, who has said that President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not go far enough to end the crisis and that his attempts to balance the budget hindered recovery.
From the January 23 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
GIULIANI: In my personal opinion, no. I was -- I was -- as a candidate, as you remember, I was against closing Guantánamo -- several times took that position in Republican debates. I think that you shouldn't close it down until you have a real plan of what you're going to do with these people, and until then, you got to keep it there.
What are you going to do? Send them to the United States, or -- nobody wants them. You try to -- you try to send them to other countries; other countries don't want them. People that we have released from Guantánamo have gotten involved in terrorist activities again and killed other people, innocent people, Americans.
GIULIANI: Yeah. I mean --
GIULIANI: And we know some of them have engaged in murdering Americans and other people.
GIULIANI: So you have to have a very concrete plan as to what you're going to do with them before you just announce you're going to close them. Here's my hope. My hope is that President Obama announced that campaign promise, got to get it over with, and now is just going to stay there for a long time --
GIULIANI: -- until they get the practical -- the practical plans over with.
GIULIANI: Well, maybe they --
GIULIANI: Well, they don't seem to know.
GIULIANI: Right. So what that might mean is this was a symbolic act rather than a real one. Let's hope that's the case. He satisfies his left-wing supporters by saying I'm closing Guantánamo, and then, you know, two years from now, it's still there.
HANNITY: All right. The big -- the other big issue that is facing this country right now is the economy. He's talking about trillion-dollar deficits as far as we can see. He's saying it's a tax cut, but people who don't pay taxes are going to get a check. Look, you dealt with welfare in New York. Is that welfare?
GIULIANI: Yes. If somebody is not paying taxes, is going to get a check from the government, then that is welfare. You haven't earned it, that's a welfare payment. I think he's going to have to abandon that in light of the economic situation.
GIULIANI: I think so.
GIULIANI: I think, as practicality emerges, you're going to see -- I'm hoping you're going to see a very pragmatic approach. I'm not sure if President Obama is an ideologue or a pragmatist. I am hoping and praying he's a pragmatist. We can get through it if he is.
HANNITY: Because, look, he's talking about anywhere from 850 billion to over a trillion dollars in a stimulus package -- trillion-dollar deficits as far as we can see. They're going to move on health care, which is --
HANNITY: -- will alter this economy dramatically. Gitmo, I think, is we are redefining the war on terrorism. And we can go straight on down the line. Instituting welfare -- the era of big government is beginning again.
GIULIANI: Right. I hope that he and his people have read The Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes' book, came out last year. It's -- I think it's back on the best-seller list. Basically, it points out why the recession of 1929, which was a bad one, became the Great Depression of 11 or 12 years. And it became the Great Depression because of unwise government actions, first by Hoover, and then by Roosevelt.
GIULIANI: And if -- if you think you're going to get your way out of this recession by all kinds of social programs, welfare programs, you're just going to make it much worse.
HANNITY: Well, in the 10 years that the Japan -- the Japanese economy was suffering, in the '90s, they had eight separate stimulus packages that created, in their history, massive debt. It was unprecedented.
GIULIANI: And the actions of the New Deal, which may have had other reasons for them, did not work from the point of view of solving the Depression. In fact, by 1936, '37, '38, the Depression was arguably just as bad as it was in 1929.
HANNITY: Yeah, it's true.
GIULIANI: So now you look at that history and you look at the other countries that have tried this, what it says to you is, yes, you have to have a relief program, but it's got to be one that's targeted right to the -- right to the problem.
GIULIANI: The problem is the toxic debt that's sitting on the books of the banks. [former Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson's first approach, which was then abandoned, probably makes the most sense, which is set up an auction for these toxic assets, the government will come in, make an offer, a low-ball offer, and then private enterprises can come in and try to buy up some of this debt.
So you can take 2 or 300 billion in government funds and you can leverage it with maybe a billion -- a trillion dollars in private funds.