Rush Limbaugh's Downgraded Economic Literacy
Rush Limbaugh responded to Standard & Poor's (S&P) decision to "downgrade" the U.S. credit rating by unleashing a litany of economic falsehoods. Limbaugh used these falsehoods to argue that the economy was suffering what he called "Obamageddon."
Limbaugh Whitewashed President Bush's Record To Claim Obama Inherited A Strong Economy ...
Limbaugh: Obama "Inherited A AAA Credit Rating, An Unemployment Rate Of 5.7 Some Odd Percent." Discussing S&P's decision to downgrade its rating of U.S. debt, Limbaugh claimed: Obama "inherited a AAA credit rating, an unemployment rate of 5.7 some odd percent. Does anybody doubt that this is on purpose?" [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/8/11 ]
... And Repeated The Lie That Half Of Americans Pay No Taxes ...
Limbaugh: "Now We're Up To 48 Percent Of The American People Have No Skin In The Game, Not Paying Taxes." Limbaugh also said:
[W]hat year did I do my April Fool's thing, tax the poor? That was 1990 some odd, right? Early 1990s, and the whole point, even though it was an April Fool's joke, the whole point of it was that a rising percentage of Americans were not paying taxes, not just the poor. And now we're up to 48 percent of the American people have no skin in the game, not paying taxes. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/8/11 ]
... And Dismissed A $2 Trillion Accounting Error Acknowledged By S&P ...
Limbaugh: "Somebody In The Regime Tried To Say That The Downgrade Of Our Credit Rating By Standard & Poor's Was A $2 Trillion Math Error." Limbaugh also said:
Somebody in the regime tried to say that the downgrade of our credit rating by Standard and Poor's was a $2 trillion math error. Remember that. Sometime over the weekend, that was Geithner. This is not the first time this regime has claimed such a thing. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/8/11]
FACT: S&P Conceded Downgrade Document Included "$2 Trillion Mistake." The New York Times reported:
On Friday, the company notified the Treasury that it planned to issue a downgrade after the markets closed, and sent the department a copy of the announcement, which is a standard procedure.
A Treasury staff member noticed the $2 trillion mistake within the hour, according to a department official. The Treasury called the company and explained the problem. About an hour later, the company conceded the problem but did not indicate how it planned to proceed, the official said. Hours later, S.& P. issued a revised release with new numbers but the same conclusion.
In a statement early Saturday morning, Standard & Poor's said the difference could be attributed to a "change in assumptions" in its methodology but that it had "no impact on the rating decision." [The New York Times, 8/5/11 ]
... And Downplayed The Deficit Reduction Impact Of Expiring Bush Tax Cuts On The Wealthy Expire ...
Limbaugh: Allowing Bush Tax Cuts To Expire Would Not Get Us "Anywhere Close To Paying Off Our Debt." Limbaugh also claimed:
There isn't the money to get anywhere close to solving our debt problem by raising taxes on quote-unquote, "those who can afford to pay a little bit more." And this is why I say that this is being done on purpose -- he knows it. This is a concerted attack on capitalism. There can be no doubt after these remarks today that this is a concerted attack on capitalism. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/8/11]
FACT: Letting Bush Tax Cuts Expire On The Wealthy Would Save Hundreds Of Billions. A New York Times editorial stated that letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire would save the U.S. $700 billion over ten years:
Letting all of the cuts expire at the end of 2012 would save $3.8 trillion over the next decade. Letting the tax cuts expire for those making more than $250,000 would save $700 billion. That would make a real dent in the $2.4 trillion in total deficit reduction envisioned in the debt limit deal. [The New York Times, 8/6/11 ]
... And Ignored Obama's Comments On America's Credibility As A AAA Country
Limbaugh Denied That Obama Said "Anything About The Greatness Of America." Discussing President Obama's comments in reaction to S&P's decision, Limbaugh claimed:
Did you who listened to all of that, you watched it on television, while also listening to this program, did you hear anything inspirational? Did you hear anything uplifting? Could you hear anything about the greatness of America, and how, hey, we've been through tougher times than this and we as Americans pull together, and we know. You didn't hear any of that. You didn't hear any inspirational uplifting motivational words. You didn't even get that as a, as an attitude. You got cockiness. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/8/11 ]
FACT: Obama Said That America Has "Always Been And Always Will Be A AAA Country." In his comments addressing S&P's decision, Obama said:
I know we're going through a tough time right now. We've been going through a tough time for the last two and a half years. And I know a lot of people are worried about the future. But here's what I also know: There will always be economic factors that we can't control -- earthquakes, spikes in oil prices, slowdowns in other parts of the world. But how we respond to those tests -- that's entirely up to us.
Markets will rise and fall, but this is the United States of America. No matter what some agency may say, we've always been and always will be a AAA country. For all of the challenges we face, we continue to have the best universities, some of the most productive workers, the most innovative companies, the most adventurous entrepreneurs on Earth. What sets us apart is that we've always not just had the capacity, but also the will to act -- the determination to shape our future; the willingness in our democracy to work out our differences in a sensible way and to move forward, not just for this generation but for the next generation.
And we're going to need to summon that spirit today. [White House Office of the Press Secretary, 8/8/11 ]