Conservative media figures falsely suggest that Reich proposed excluding white males from stimulus package

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity have falsely asserted or suggested that Robert Reich, speaking at a congressional forum, proposed that jobs created by the economic stimulus package should exclude white males. In fact, Reich has repeatedly stated that he favors a stimulus plan that "includ[es] women and minorities, and the long-term unemployed" in addition to skilled professionals and white male construction workers, not one that is solely limited to them.

On January 22 and January 23, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity falsely asserted or suggested that former Labor Secretary and Obama economic adviser Robert Reich, speaking at a congressional forum, proposed that jobs created by the economic stimulus package should exclude white males. In fact, while addressing concerns from women's advocacy groups and others about the composition of the proposed stimulus, Reich said then and has repeatedly stated that he favors a stimulus plan that "includ[es] women and minorities, and the long-term unemployed" in addition to skilled professionals and white male construction workers, not one that is limited to women and minorities.

During the January 22 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox News contributor and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin claimed that Reich proposed that "the stimulus funds should not go to white male contractors." During the January 22 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that Reich "doesn't want it to go to white construction workers," while on his January 23 show, he stated: "And by the way, we're dedicating today's program to white construction workers -- the white construction workers that we learned yesterday Robert B. Reich said he doesn't want to receive any of the bailout money to hire infrastructure workers." And on the January 22 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity claimed that Reich "expressed concern that the current [stimulus] package is, well, too inclusive." After airing a clip of Reich's testimony, Hannity stated: "Now here I thought the package was intended for everybody. So aren't pink slips color blind?"

During his January 9 appearance (of which Limbaugh and Hannity aired portions) before the House Democratic Caucus Steering and Policy Committee Forum on the economic recovery plan, Reich did not suggest excluding white males from employment programs as part of the stimulus package. Rather, he emphasized including minorities, women, and the chronically unemployed. During the hearing, Reich stated that the jobs created should not "simply go to high-skilled people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers." Reich continued: "I have nothing against white male construction workers. I'm just saying that there are a lot of other people who have needs as well. And therefore, in my remarks I have suggested to you, and I'm certainly happy to talk about it more, ways in which the money can be -- criteria can be set so that the money does go to others: the long-term unemployed, minorities, women, people who are not necessarily construction workers or high-skilled professionals."

Similarly, during a January 7 hearing on the economic recovery plan in front of the same committee, Reich proposed "[m]ak[ing] sure the poor and long-term unemployed get a portion of those jobs. To lower-income Americans -- including women and minorities, and the long-term unemployed -- are especially hard hit by this recession." Reich also addressed the issue in a January 8 blog post, in which he wrote:

[I]f there aren't enough skilled professionals to do the jobs involving new technologies, the stimulus will just increase the wages of the professionals who already have the right skills rather than generate many new jobs in these fields. And if construction jobs go mainly to white males who already dominate the construction trades, many people who need jobs the most -- women, minorities, and the poor and long-term unemployed -- will be shut out."

From the January 22 broadcast of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

MALKIN: But this slogan, "My President is Black," is very popular among the young generation. You heard it on college campuses the day after the election. It's sold on T-shirts. And it's not just Jay-Z, it's not just Young Jeezy. Nas also did a song very much like it, called "Black President," and P. Diddy was up on stage during one of the inaugural balls, using this same slogan. And, you know -- and the fact that we have this kind of racial identity politics still infusing pop culture, I think points to the fact that the Obama administration itself has not distanced itself from these kind of policies.

And just today -- I think this is very related, Megyn -- another video came out of Robert Reich, the economic adviser formerly from the Clinton administration and now from [President] Obama, talking about how the stimulus funds should not go to white male contractors. It's the same kind of mentality of bean counting, and, you know, it's the same old, same old. It's the same old Democrat mentality of treating people based on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character or the content of their resumes. You know, not exactly the kind of legacy we thought Martin Luther King was supposed to leave.

MEGYN KELLY (anchor): Well, I know, Michelle, that, you know, when you comment on these things, and when others comment on these things, some people come out and call you racist for even commenting on it, which seems a little boneheaded to have the exact wrong message as a result of these. But we appreciate you blogging about it -- we saw the tape, we were rather surprised by it, and we hope that we don't see more of it. Michelle Malkin, always a pleasure talking to you. Thanks for being here.

MALKIN: Thanks.

From the January 22 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: Let me play -- I promised wall-to-wall sound bites. So let me go to one we haven't played. This is labor secretary -- former Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich during a House Democrat [sic] Steering and Policy Committee meeting back on January 7. This, I said on Hannity's show last night -- second part of the interview tonight: 9 o'clock Eastern, Fox News Channel. The racism in this country, the looking at people as members of groups and assigning them as such exists solely on the left. Listen to this.

REICH [audio clip]: I am concerned, as I'm sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high-skilled people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers. I have nothing against white male construction workers. I'm just saying that there are a lot of other people who have needs as well. And, therefore, in my remarks I have suggested to you, and I'm certainly happy to talk about it more, ways in which the money can be -- criteria can be set so that the money does go to others: the long-term unemployed, minorities, women, people who are not necessarily construction workers or high-skilled professionals.

LIMBAUGH: Talking about the money we're going to spend on the infrastructure plan. Roads, bridges, all that stuff. But he doesn't want it to go to white construction workers; he wants it to go to inexperienced minorities and single women. He's got nothing against white construction workers but, but, but, but the money needs to go to others. These people are crazy. They're just -- if I heard myself talk like this I would be so embarrassed.

From the January 23 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: And by the way, we're dedicating today's program to white construction workers -- the white construction workers that we learned yesterday Robert B. Reich said he doesn't want to receive any of the bailout money to hire infrastructure workers.

ANNOUNCER: Live from the Southern Command in sunny South Florida via New York City, it's open-line Friday.

LIMBAUGH: Now, he said he has got nothing against white construction workers, but instead he wants to hire minorities and stuff. It's strange he didn't talk about qualifications to do infrastructure work.

From the January 22 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: In other Obama administration news, former secretary of labor and Obama adviser Robert Reich -- he chimed in with his input on the stimulus package. And Mr. Reich expressed concern that the current package is, well, too inclusive.

REICH [video clip]: I am concerned, as I'm sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high-skilled people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers. ... I have suggested to you, and I'm certainly happy to talk about it more, ways in which the money can be -- criteria can be set so that the money does go to others: the long-term unemployed, minorities, women, people who are not necessarily construction workers or high-skilled professionals.

HANNITY: Now here I thought the package was intended for everybody. So aren't pink slips color blind? Now here's hoping Mr. Reich does not have the president's ear on this one.

From Reich's January 9 testimony (retrieved from the Nexis database):

Now let me say something about infrastructure. It seems to me that infrastructure spending is a very important and good way of stimulating the economy. The challenge will be to do it quickly, to find projects that can be done that have a high social return that also can be done with the greatest speed possible.

I am concerned, as I'm sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high skilled people who are already professions or to white male construction workers. I have nothing against white male construction workers. I'm just saying that there are a lot of other people who have needs as well. And therefore, in my remarks I have suggested to you, and I'm certainly happy to talk about it more, ways in which the money can be -- criteria can be set so that they money does go to others: the long term unemployed, minorities, women, people who are not necessarily construction workers or high-skilled professionals.

From Reich's January 7 testimony (from Nexis):

Make sure the poor and long-term unemployed get a portion of those jobs. To lower-income Americans -- including women and minorities, and the long-term unemployed -- are especially hard hit by this recession. It is important that these people have a fair chance to get the new jobs that will result from federal action. This is also good for the economy. These groups are most likely to spend any extra income they receive. And their spending is likely to promote other jobs on the Main Streets of the lower- income communities, in which they live.

1. Require contractors to set aside 20 percent of jobs for such groups. All contracts entered into with stimulus Ends -- either by federal, state, or local governments -- should require contractors to provide at least 20 percent of jobs to the long-term unemployed and to people with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

2. Create a "Green Jobs Corps." Low-income and low-skilled workers should be put directly to work providing homes and businesses with more efficient land more renewable heating, lighting, cooling, and refrigeration systems; installing solar panels and efficient photovoltaic cells; rehabilitating and renovating older properties, and improving, recycling systems. Green Jobs Corps teams could be trained to evaluate and advise homeowners and businesses on these and other means of conserving energy.

3. Provide job training linked to these and when, jobs generated by the stimulus. These "green" jobs, as well as many others generated by the stimulus -- installing new pipes for water and sewage systems, mixing and pouring cement, laying asphalt, installing and repairing basic equipment -- can be clone by people who receive relatively short-tern training for then. At least 2 percent of project funds should be allocated to such training, most efficiently through the Workforce Investment Act. In addition, advantage should be taken of building trades apprenticeships, which must be fully available to women and minorities.

4. Provide income assistance during training. One of the biggest barriers for vulnerable populations who want such training is their need for income: while being trained. Income maintenance should be assured for the duration of training, up to six months.

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