Media wield GOP's "welfare" attack on economic recovery plan

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI & LAUREN AUERBACH

A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.

On February 7, Jason DeParle published an essay in The New York Times highlighting a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters for America documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill. While DeParle noted that the word "was weaponized last week," Media Matters noted frequent attacks in the media of Obama's tax plan as "welfare" prior to the November 2008 election, attacks that have continued from the beginning of this year.

As Media Matters has documented, economists, including Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director Douglas W. Elmendorf and Mark Zandi -- the chief economist and co-founder of Moody's Economy.com who was a McCain campaign economic adviser -- have stated that spending proposals that critics call "welfare" stimulate the economy effectively. In Zandi's words, "[A]id to financially-pressed state governments" is an "economically potent stimulus." H.R. 1, the House economic recovery bill, includes provisions that would grant such aid to states, including additional federal matching funds for Medicaid and the creation of an "Emergency Contingency Fund for State Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Programs." Similarly, economists have stated, in Elmendorf's words, that "[t]ransfers to persons" -- such as provisions in the bill that extend food stamps and unemployment insurance payments -- "would also have a significant impact on GDP." Elmendorf further stated: "Transfers also include refundable tax credits" -- such as the Making Work Pay credit included in H.R. 1 -- "which have an impact similar to that of a temporary tax cut."

As mentioned above, while DeParle noted that the word "was weaponized last week," conservatives did not rediscover the word last week. Before the election, Media Matters cited frequent attacks in the media of Obama's tax plan as "welfare." And from the beginning of this year, there have been numerous references in the media to "welfare" in the context of Obama's economic stimulus proposal. For example:

  • During the January 6 edition of Fox News' Studio B, host Shepard Smith asked Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee: "Senator, the president-elect wants a big economic stimulus package ready to sign as soon as he take office. It's somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 billion over two years, $300 billion of that in what we're being told is middle-class and business tax cuts. Senator, I know we don't know the details yet, but $300 billion in tax cuts -- how do you cut taxes on people who don't pay taxes?" Ensign replied: "What they want to do is give tax credits. It's basically like a welfare payment because it's up above and beyond whatever taxes that they pay right now."
  • During the January 7 edition of CNN's American Morning, CNN political contributor and former Republican National Committee official Tara Wall claimed: "Republicans are concerned about, and conservatives are concerned about, is not giving tax cuts to those -- to those who don't pay into the income tax system, which would essentially be more of what would be considered government welfare in some cases."
  • As Media Matters noted, during the January 8 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, co-host Megyn Kelly claimed of Obama's proposed tax credit: "They're not all tax cuts, however, because some people who don't pay taxes are going to get money." Kelly later said to Fox News contributor Cheryl Casone, "[L]et me ask you about these tax cuts. Are they really tax cuts, or are they -- or is it welfare for some people?" Casone responded: "Well you're talking about the low-income earners. There has been estimates that it could be about $500 for those low-income folks. So that has been floated out there already as these discussions are ongoing." When Kelly interjected, "[B]ut explain why that's controversial," Casone replied, "That is controversial because of many low-income earners do not pay taxes, as you mentioned, but they still will be getting checks in the mail -- that rebate."
  • As Media Matters noted, during the January 8 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, while discussing Obama's proposal with Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), co-host Trace Gallagher asked: "Are these really tax cuts, or are these -- is this actually just more welfare spending?" Gallagher added, "If you're giving people money who didn't pay into the tax system, that becomes a different ballgame altogether." Garrett responded: "It's a totally different ballgame, because what it is, is a redistribution of wealth."
  • During the January 19 edition of Fox Business Network's Cavuto, host Neil Cavuto stated to Fox News contributor Karl Rove: "Well, I'll tell you real quickly, Karl, the tax incentive component of this that was roughly 40 percent of it when we started talking about stimulus is now slipping down lower and lower and will likely be 30 percent." Rove replied: "And look how so much of that so-called tax cut is, in reality, a 20 to 40 dollar a week welfare benefit to people who have no income tax liability."
  • In a January 20 column published on TheHill.com, Fox News contributor Dick Morris wrote of Obama:

    But it is not his spending that will transform our political system, it is his tax and welfare policies. In the name of short-term stimulus, he will give every American family (who makes less than $200,000) a welfare check of $1,000 euphemistically called a refundable tax credit. And he will so sharply cut taxes on the middle class and the poor that the number of Americans who pay no federal income tax will rise from the current one-third of all households to more than half. In the process, he will create a permanent electoral majority that does not pay taxes, but counts on ever-expanding welfare checks from the government. The dependency on the dole, formerly limited in pre-Clinton days to 14 million women and children on Aid to Families with Dependent Children, will now grow to a clear majority of the American population.

    Morris' column was republished on the conservative websites Townhall.com and Newsmax.com and was promoted on the January 22 broadcast of Rush Limbaugh's radio program.

    During the January 21 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Morris again claimed the recovery plan "is really a Trojan horse. ... [I]nside that Trojan horse are a whole variety of measures that will make us like France. Not quite Sweden yet, but France. Eliminate the majority of Americans from the tax rolls, so that most Americans don't pay taxes and therefore don't care how high they go. Give the majority of Americans a welfare check under the guise of a refundable tax credit, so that we become a fully welfare-oriented society."

  • During the January 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity claimed that "they've now redefined welfare as tax cuts. So 40 percent of people that didn't pay any taxes, they're going to get a check. Isn't that welfare, Governor?" Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) replied: "Well, I must admit that I'm -- I'm one of those that believes that everybody ought to pay something."
  • In a January 21 post on the Cato Institute's blog, executive vice president David Boaz wrote that the recovery bill contains "just a bit -- maybe not more than, you know, $100 billion -- for welfare programs, which are hardly economic stimulus but will no doubt be popular with recipients."
  • On January 22, Hannity claimed on his Fox News program: "Obama's talking trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. All right? And, yet, he's calling these tax cuts. OK? This is a new definition of welfare. You don't pay any taxes, but it's going to be a tax cut and they're going to mail you a welfare check."
  • On his January 23 Fox News program, Hannity asked former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R): "[Obama is] 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 replied: "Yes. If somebody who's not paying taxes is going to get a check from the government, then that is a 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." Hannity later claimed that Obama is "instituting welfare."
  • In a January 26 Newsmax.com article, chief Washington correspondent Ronald Kessler reported:

    Barack Obama is putting together a "frightening" social program rather than a package that will stimulate the economy, says Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader.

    "The proposal is full of welfare -- welfare for local governments, welfare for people, subsidies for health insurance, expanding the federal government's involvement in our educational system," DeLay tells Newsmax.

    What the estimated $820 billion plan amounts to is "just complete, out-and-out writing of checks to people that don't pay taxes," DeLay observes. "These are welfare checks that are called tax cuts."

  • During the January 26 edition of Hannity, Morris again claimed that the recovery plan is "a Trojan horse. Inside the horse, there are socialists, and there's programs that will enhance socialism in this country. By stopping people from paying taxes, giving them welfare benefits, and giving the federal government preferred stock in banks that crowds out private owners."
  • During the January 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Beltway Boys co-host and Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes claimed: "The question is whether Obama wants to give Republicans something that's not a tax cut that's welfare, but something that will actually help him and the economy." Barnes added: "Obama needs, after a couple of years of stimulus, he needs a strong private economy. He's not going to get it from this bill."
  • During the January 28 edition of Special Report, chief political correspondent Carl Cameron reported that "instead of growing jobs, Republicans say the Democratic package grows government." Fox News then aired video of Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) claiming: "This bill moves us dramatically closer to a welfare state. It is forcing people who are the backbone of our economy, the middle class, into a troubling kind of public dependency."
  • As Media Matters documented, on the January 30 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski asserted: "The stimulus plan: How much of it is welfare? How much of it is programs that have nothing to do with stimulating the economy?" Later, Brzezinski said: "I want to look at the plan and how much of it is sort of welfare programs and how much are things that we know, either from history or because economic experts somehow know this, actually stimulates the economy." Brzezinski later stated: "I mean, if you're gonna have welfare programs in this bill, call them welfare programs and pass them, but don't call them facets of the bill meant to stimulate the economy. I do feel like there's some old politics at play here."
  • During the January 30 edition of Hannity, after National Review editor Rich Lowry said it is "very easy to get the tax dollars back in people's hands," Hannity claimed: "We support that. Except for the welfare portion of that."
  • In a January 30 article for WorldNetDaily.com headlined "Stimulus-plan doubts push Dow under 8,000," staff reporter Jerome R. Corsi wrote:

    All through the week, critics attacked the Obama economic stimulus plan, pointing out billions of dollars that had more to do with promoting Democratic Party causes than investing in programs that would create enough jobs to jolt the nation out of recession.

    In addition to millions allocated for programs such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's contraception plan, which she argued would help the economy by reducing the need for the states to spend social welfare funds on babies born in unwanted pregnancies, Obama's plan as voted out of the House included funds for education on sexually transmitted diseases and for research on climate change issues.

  • In his January 30 column, New York Post Washington bureau chief Charles Hurt wrote:

    Buried deep inside the massive spending orgy that Democrats jammed through the House this week lie five words that could drastically undo two decades of welfare reforms.

    The very heart of the widely applauded Welfare Reform Act of 1996 is a cap on the amount of federal cash that can be sent to states each year for welfare payments.

    [...]

    One thing is clear: His "stimulus" bill is not change we can believe in. It's a return to big-government welfare that we will choke on.

  • In a February 2 column, Newsmax.com editor in chief Christopher Ruddy wrote:

    What is abundantly clear in just the first two weeks of the Obama administration is that the Democrats have the wrong approach in fixing our problems.

    We have seen that in the massive $800 billion-plus "stimulus" program, which largely goes to directly helping the unions that backed Obama and which benefits a massive laundry list of social welfare and pork barrel spending.

  • In a February 2 column on WorldNetDaily.com, conservative talk-show host Roger Hedgecock wrote:

    Now comes Obama's "stimulus" bill -- nearly $1 trillion to grow government, increase welfare and finance a permanent campaign to cement Democratic Party control.

    The bill is a liberal wish list that includes repeal of Clinton's welfare reform, aid to the most irresponsible deficit spending state governments (like my own California), grants to ACORN and other "community groups" to make voter fraud a permanent feature of Democratic Party success at the polls and direct payments (called "tax cuts") to illegal aliens. The smallest part of the bill is the infrastructure construction, and that has the most public support.

  • During the February 2 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich claimed of Obama: "I think he's beginning to realize that if this bill doesn't get changed dramatically in the Senate, if it doesn't have more tax cuts, if it doesn't shift money out of welfare into real infrastructure and out of political pork barrel into real job development, he's going to have hanging around the entire administration a failed bill by, oh, April or May. And it's pretty rapidly going to become the Obama recession."
  • During the February 2 edition of MSNBC Live, co-host Contessa Brewer asked Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY): "How does it help the two parties reach consensus if the Republican leader [Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)] is saying the president should be embarrassed about this bill?" Barrasso replied, in part: "There's more money in this bill right now for welfare and for unemployment benefits than there is for the things that we're supposed to be dealing with -- highways, roads and also bridges."
  • During the February 2 edition of Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough said of Democrats: "But they are creating -- they are spending -- this is 1972 George McGovern-style spending. Spend it like a liberal in the 21st century would spend it. We've got such an extraordinary opportunity to transform our economy, to transform our environment, to transform energy in the 21st century, and they are spending it on welfare programs. It is staggering to me."
  • In a February 2 article on Newsmax.com headlined "Economists: Stimulus Plan Signals New Welfare State," managing editor David A. Patten wrote: "Economists and pundits are beginning to sound alarms that the U.S. economy is perilously close to a 'tipping point,' where so many voters will be on the public payroll it will be politically impossible to rein in entitlement programs. ... Free-market economists point to failed welfare-state experiments in England, France, and Germany, and now openly say America could be headed down the same rocky road."
  • In a February 2 editorial, The Washington Times wrote:

    The dangers to the American free enterprise system under the current proposal should not be discounted. The plan would exempt more than half of all Americans from paying federal income taxes (the current fraction is about one-third), with the voting majority getting refundable tax credits -- a form of welfare check reminiscent of the Roman bread and circuses.

  • The New York Daily News reported on February 3 that Pajamas Media correspondent Joe Wurzelbacher -- aka Joe the Plumber -- gave "political advice to conservative Republican staffers at breakfast" and that "[o]ne thing that needs to be done, he said, is killing this stimulus package, because it's just another example of 'American government' -- Republicans and Democrats -- 'kicking our butts left and right.' He also called it welfare."
  • On the February 3 edition of Morning Joe, Brzezinski again asserted of the recovery bill: "There's a lot of welfare in there. There's a lot of spending. It's not stimulus." Scarborough replied: "We're the side of good Americans who are concerned about this package. We want a stimulus package." Brzezinski then added: "[Obama] may be the second coming, but the bill is not a stimulus package." When Scarborough later said, "We can do a lot of different things other than just spending money on old-style welfare programs," Brzezinski echoed, "Welfare programs," adding, "I'm all for food stamps, but why are they in this bill?"
  • On the February 4 edition of NPR's Day to Day, Wall Street Journal senior economics writer Stephen Moore claimed:

    MOORE: Most of the spending in this bill has very little to do with economic stimulus or creating jobs. A lot of it is just political payback to Democrat interest groups like the unions and ACORN and organizations like that. There's also hundreds of billions of dollars for welfare programs. Now, that might be something we want to do when people lose their jobs, to provide them with welfare assistance, but that's certainly not a job creator. In fact, if anything, it keeps people out of jobs.

  • On the February 4 edition of MSNBC's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, while interviewing Coburn and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Brzezinski said: "Senator Coburn, I'll ask you this. I don't see how jobs will be created by welfare programs. And I also am not sure about these tax breaks that the Republicans want."
  • During the February 4 edition of Hannity, Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers said: "Forty percent of the bill is tax cuts. I mean, you guys are acting like there's no tax cuts in it." Hannity responded: "No, no, no. It's not -- first of all, it's tax cuts if you define a tax cut as a welfare payment for people that don't get -- they're saying that people that don't pay taxes are going to get a tax cut. I call that welfare. Let's call it what it is." Hannity later stated: "If you don't pay taxes -- is that important? If you don't pay taxes, and you get, quote, what they're calling a tax cut, isn't that welfare? Let's be honest. Why are we lying to the American people?"
  • During the February 5 edition of CNBC's The Kudlow Report, host Larry Kudlow claimed: "Various budget studies have shown $300 billion of programs don't work, not a nickel of those eliminations are in there. And, sir, you know, social spending, I mean, Medicaid, state assistance, welfare -- this could be built into the baseline. None of this has to do with economic growth. We could have a separate vote on social spending, but this isn't economic growth."
  • In his February 5 column, National Review editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg wrote:

    The legislation's primary duty was never to stimulate the economy, but to stimulate the growth of government, the scope of the state.

    By spending hundreds of billions on things that have absolutely nothing to do with providing an immediate stimulus for the economy, Democrats hoped to make a down payment on their dream government. The billions for student aid, expanded welfare and health-care benefits, and bailouts for profligate state governments; the hundreds of millions for better museums and prettier government buildings; and the millions for smoking-cessation programs and bee insurance aren't just items on crapulent Democrats' wish list. The budget bloating was deliberate.

  • In a February 6 column for FrontPageMag.com, Alyssa A. Lappen wrote:

    The Senate bill greatly expands welfare spending. There are $13.3 billion earmarked to raise health insurance for unemployed workers, $27.1 billion for increased unemployment benefits, and $11.1 billion for "Other Unemployment Compensation." Another $20 billion will go to raise maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assurance Program benefits (i.e., food stamps).

    [...]

    The stimulus bill is something else entirely. If the Senate passes this "stimulus," it would merely be doubling down on legislative pork. In the end, not even calling such proposals "job-creating investments" can disguise the fact that the bill won't actually create jobs.

  • During the February 6 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) claimed:

    Well, this bill, according to the advocates for the bill, would let Mississippi have $54 million of additional money for unemployment. The only problem is, when you read the details, we get $3.9 million of that for what we do now. And to get the other $50 million, we have to expand unemployment to let people collect unemployment that have never been eligible in our -- in our state, including people who aren't willing to take a full-time job. Now, there's way too much of that in this bill, social policy, to the point it -- it's kind of welfare state 3.0.

  • On February 6 edition of Hannity, Democratic strategist Douglas Schoen said, "Forty-two percent of the bill is tax cuts. We're going to provide stimulus to lower-income Americans. We're going to give people more cash." Hannity replied: "It's welfare. No, no, welfare as we know it is beginning again. An era of big government just started today." Hannity later added: "Look, I have a whole page here of pork barrel in this bill. You explain to me how Frisbee parks and golf courses and -- and a new welfare program, how does that -- how does that -- how does that stimulate the economy?"
  • Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Robert E. Rector employed the term in a February 6 "WebMemo," as DeParle reported in his Times piece:

    Robert Rector of the conservative Heritage Foundation released a paper slamming the House stimulus bill as a "welfare spendathon." With an expansive view of "welfare spending," Mr. Rector puts the bill's two-year welfare tally at $264 billion. (He counts things like Pell Grants, which help low-income students attend college, and Community Development Block Grants, which help low-income neighborhoods finance everything from sewers to crime prevention.)

    "I find it offensive that they're trying to sneak things in there," Mr. Rector said of the bill's supporters. "None of these programs deals with the fundamental causes of poverty, which are low levels of work and lower levels of marriage. They just say, 'Give me more.' "

Rector's paper has been promoted in a February 10 National Review piece by editor Rich Lowry, a February 10 syndicated column by Cal Thomas, and a February 6 blog post by U.S. News & World Report money and politics blogger James Pethokoukis.

  • In a February 8 editorial, the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote:

    Let's stop using the word "stimulus" to describe the overflowing septic tank that's seeping through the hallways of Congress. Its sole purpose isn't to stimulate the economy, but to beef up government budgets, purchase the loyalty of dependent constituencies and leverage even more spending by the drunken sailors who've run their state operations ashore.

    That liberal federal lawmakers are willing to lead President Obama's full-court press for the debt-funded welfare giveaway isn't surprising. That they've brought state legislators onto the bandwagon is shamefully audacious.

  • In a February 10 editorial, the Rocky Mountain News stated: "Several provisions in the stimulus package would immediately grow the welfare state. One would make Medicaid, the federal health program for the indigent, available to anyone who's unemployed - former millionaire CEOs and laid-off retail workers alike. Another measure would, for the first time, provide taxpayer subsidies under the COBRA health-insurance law. Either of these proposals would undermine individual responsibility, allowing people who can afford to pay for medical insurance from their own pockets to collect taxpayer subsidies."
  • In a February 10 Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined "The Return of Welfare As We Knew It," former assistant secretary of health and human services Benjamin Sasse and former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Kerry Weems wrote: "Through a little noticed provision of the stimulus package that has passed the House of Representatives, the bill creates a fund for TANF that is open-ended -- the same way Medicare and Social Security are." Sasse and Weems asserted that the provision is an "attempt to undo welfare reform" that "has not been transparent."

From the January 6 edition of Fox News' Studio B with Shepard Smith:

ENSIGN: At least make sure that you get all of the things that are -- the issues that are out there. Whether they're court issues, whether they're challenged-ballot issues, make sure that they're settled in a way that it doesn't seem like one side or the other stole the election. That's really important in cases like this because people turned out in record numbers in Minnesota. That's a really good thing.

SMITH: They did indeed.

ENSIGN: You don't want to discourage people from turning out because they felt like the race was stolen one way or the other.

SMITH: Senator, the president-elect wants a big economic stimulus package ready to sign as soon as he take office. It's somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 billion over two years, $300 billion of that in what we're being told is middle-class and business tax cuts. Senator, I know we don't know the details yet, but $300 billion in tax cuts -- how do you cut taxes on people who don't pay taxes?

ENSIGN: Well, that is one of the discussions that's going to be had up here on Capitol Hill. What they want to do is give tax credits. It's basically like a welfare payment because it's up above and beyond whatever taxes that they pay right now. The business tax credits and some of the things they're talking about there, those are important things, because if businesses don't have money, a lot of these businesses are going to go out of business.

From the January 7 edition of CNN's American Morning:

KIERAN CHETRY (co-host): And, Tara, it's interesting because Melissa said that, you know, in some ways the government can do better -- that's certainly the anti-conservative message. A lot of Republicans expressing concern the stimulus is too big. However they do admit that, Barack Obama included, as part of this proposal a massive tax cut in part to bring Republicans on board, so will he perhaps get bipartisan support for this?

WALL: Well, I'd have to respectfully disagree with Melissa, who I know. I don't think the government is the answer to solve these problems. I think certainly private entities do a much better job in communities and dealing with day-to-day issues of real communities.

There is a role for government to play, yes, and certainly in the economic situation we're in, there has to be some type of government intervention. But I think what Republicans want to see -- Republicans are encouraged about tax cuts, of course. Tax cuts have been a Republican mantra, and it was something that President Bush was roundly criticized about when he tried to institute them early on and was successful, and that's why I think the economy did move forward early on.

But at the same time, what Republicans are concerned about, and conservatives are concerned about, is not giving tax cuts to those -- to those who don't pay into the income tax system, which would essentially be more of what would be considered government welfare in some cases, and also making sure that we're stimulating the economy in a way that's also beneficial to small businesses. Government doesn't create jobs. Government is there to create an atmosphere that brings forth job growth --

CHETRY: Right.

WALL: -- and encourages job growth through small business, through private enterprise, and those are the types of things I think Republicans want to see.

CHETRY: In this proposal, I guess it would be a little bit of both, with the tax cuts plus the plan for the infrastructure improvements.

WALL: And it's good there's not going to be any pork. I think that that's good that we hold him to that issue --

CHETRY: No earmarks.

WALL: -- of no earmarks, no pork.

From the January 19 edition of Fox Business Network's Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Well, I'll tell you real quickly, Karl, the tax incentive component of this that was roughly 40 percent of it when we started talking about stimulus is now slipping down lower and lower and will likely be 30 percent.

ROVE: And look how much of that so-called tax cut is, in reality, a 20- to 40-dollar a week welfare benefit to people who have no federal income tax liability.

CAVUTO: And away we go. All right, my friend, thank you so much for helping us. We always appreciate it.

From the January 21 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: All right, let's start -- Barack Obama first. Any thoughts about his first full day?

MORRIS: Well, about his first 100 days, what I think is going to happen, I have an odd assignment for you, Paul.

O'REILLY: OK.

MORRIS: It's not the British you have to worry about; it's a horse, a Trojan horse. Obama's stimulus package is really a Trojan horse, where he's bringing it up to the gates of our Congress, he's going to get it passed.

O'REILLY: Right.

MORRIS: And he's going to say the purpose of it is to stimulate the economy.

O'REILLY: Right.

MORRIS: The fact is what it really is, if at best, is methadone. It eases us off of our debt addiction. But inside that Trojan horse are a whole variety of measures that will make us like France. Not quite Sweden yet, but France.

Eliminate the majority of Americans from the tax rolls, so that most Americans don't pay taxes and therefore don't care how high they go. Give the majority of Americans a welfare check under the guise of a refundable tax credit, so that we become a fully welfare-oriented society. To use the preferred stock that the government got in all of the major banks to squeeze out the common stock by hogging all the dividends and basically forcing the nationalization of banks and, therefore, our economy.

From the January 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: Governor, I guess the most important question is, is I believe that any Republican that supports this, if the numbers, you know, rounded to a trillion dollars of taxpayer money, they've abandoned their conservative values. I really do. Should Republicans oppose this?

ROMNEY: Well, I don't -- well, I don't kick anybody out of the party, but I do think that we ought to stand for principles that really relate to strengthening the economy, and that says at its heart and its core we believe that the private sector is the place that ought to be creating jobs. And we're going to make sure that the heart of any stimulus plan is to reduce taxes, encouraging people to spend on the items that they're going to be purchasing over several years. That causes businesses to grow jobs, to add investment.

Look, the idea of just sending out checks to businesses and sending out checks to individuals that's part of the Obama plan, that didn't work last time we tried it, about a year ago, and it's certainly not going to work now, either.

HANNITY: Well, and not only that, they've now redefined welfare as tax cuts. So 40 percent of people that didn't pay any taxes, they're going to get a check. Isn't that welfare, Governor?

ROMNEY: Well, I must admit that I'm -- I'm one of those that believes that everybody ought to pay something.

HANNITY: Me too.

From the January 22 edition of Hannity:

HANNITY: I've got my Escalade hybrid. I'm gonna tell you something. It doubles what my old hybrid had, and I love -- I love my Escalade.

All right. Let's talk a little bit more about finances. Obama's talking trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. All right? And, yet, he's calling these tax cuts. OK? This is a new definition of welfare. You don't pay any taxes, but it's going to be a tax cut and they're going to mail you a welfare check.

KATE OBENSHAIN (Republican strategist): Look, he promised to do this during the election. He promised to redistribute the wealth. And he's talking about raising the number of people who are receiving a refund --

HANNITY: Tell this to Caddell. He needs to hear this.

OBENSHAIN: -- who are receiving a refund who do not pay taxes. And yet, he's not cutting the taxes on the individuals who are most likely to be able to stimulate the economy. This is not a stimulus package. This is a pork package, and we need to be honest about that. The fact that most of this money isn't even going to reach the economy before the recession is over.

From the January 23 edition of Hannity:

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've dealt with welfare in New York. Is that welfare?

GIULIANI: Yes. If somebody who's not paying taxes is going to get a check from the government, then that is a 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.

HANNITY: Are you thinking that he's really -- he's going to abandon all these things?

GIULIANI: I think so.

HANNITY: You really do?

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: You know, look, I'm going to tell you, my take on it is just the opposite. I think he's an ideologue. And I'll tell you why.

GIULIANI: Right.

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 --

GIULIANI: Right.

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 that came out last year. 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.

HANNITY: Right.

GIULIANI: And 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.

From the January 26 edition of Hannity:

HANNITY: This raises the question: What do Republicans do to oppose it, Dick? They can't even offer, with these Draconian Pelosi rules, alternative bills. What do you suggest they do?

MORRIS: I think that the real threat of the stimulus package and of the whole Obama policies is that it's a Trojan horse. Inside the horse, there are socialists, and there's programs that will enhance socialism in this country. By stopping people from paying taxes, giving them welfare benefits, and giving the federal government preferred stock in banks that crowds out private owners.

From the January 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BRET BAIER (host): You know, there's a lot of focus, Fred, on these Congressional Budget Office projections -- estimates about when the money would really impact the economy. When you look at the new estimates, really the biggest impact is from the tax cuts at the front end, tax cuts that many Democrats opposed, right?

BARNES: You mean that Republicans opposed? You mean the one that will go to -- when the -- the refundable tax credits --

BAIER: Right.

BARNES: -- that will go to people who don't pay any taxes at all, or at least any income taxes? Sure, that money can get out pretty quickly. The question is whether Obama wants to give Republicans something that's not a tax cut that's welfare, but something that will actually help him and the economy. Remember what happened in the New Deal. After four or five years of all the infrastructure and all the projects, which can put people to work, FDR cut back. And what happened? There was not a strong, robust private economy to step in and take over because he'd raised taxes on wealthy people and attacked corporate America and so on, and didn't produce. What Obama -- what is lacking in this bill -- Obama needs, after a couple of years of stimulus, he needs a strong private economy. He's not going to get it from this bill.

From the January 28 edition of Fox News' Special Report:

CAMERON: Hiya, Bret. Well, majority House Democrats are in the final stages of ramming through their $819 billion economic stimulus package despite loud objections from the vast majority of House Republicans that it does not have anywhere near enough tax relief and it begins a spending binge that they argue ultimately will not stimulate growth.

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REP. DAN BURTON (R-IN): This is just a down payment. We're going to spend trillions and trillions more. Wasteful spending into a black hole, in my opinion, and it's going to cause severe inflationary problems and economic problems down the -- down the road that nobody really anticipates.

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): The opposition to this bill can speak out against this recovery plan all they want, but their policies have not worked, and Americans -- Americans voted for change.

CAMERON: But instead of growing jobs, Republicans say the Democratic package grows government.

REP. KEN CALVERT (R-CA): This bill moves us dramatically closer to a welfare state. It is forcing people who are the backbone of our economy, the middle class, into a troubling kind of public dependency.

CAMERON: A new Gallup poll shows 52 percent want the stimulus passed; 37 percent oppose it. Democrats described their plan in biblical terms.

REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D-FL): It shelters the homeless, and it heals the sick. It helps us to look forward to a day when we beat our swords into plowshares.

CAMERON: As the final vote neared, Republicans unveiled their last-ditch alternative claiming that based on analyses developed by the president's own incoming senior economic adviser, their GOP plan will be much cheaper and create more growth.

From the January 30 edition of Hannity:

HANNITY: Are you -- but you're giving me platitudes here. This is important, I think, for our audience, important question. And we've got to do something. But is there a chance here that the fix, the cure is worse than the original problem? And we're talking about unprecedented money. The trillions of dollars we're putting, you know, of debt on our children and grandchildren.

CAROLINE HELDMAN (Occidental College assistant professor): Well, $800 billion. TARP was $700 billion --

HANNITY: With interest, 1.2.

HELDMAN: -- sure, up around a trillion.

HANNITY: So that's 2 trillion if you combine them.

HELDMAN: But every president who's faced this situation has had to pass a major package. What I like about this passage is that 40 percent of tax relief. Sixty percent is infrastructure --

HANNITY: For 2010, 2011, and 2012.

HELDMAN: Well, it's going to take a while to turn the economy around. But there's a lot of the package that's going to start immediately and kick-start the economy.

HANNITY: No, no, no, no, no. The only part is the welfare part.

LOWRY: The tax cuts -- the tax cuts start immediately, because it's very easy to get the tax dollars back in people's hands, sure --

HANNITY: We support that. Except for the welfare portion of that.

LOWRY: Yeah. I think just a straight rate cut in the payroll tax would make the most sense. But look, Democrats in the -- in the House are chomping at the bit to do this kind of spending forever. This is a political opportunity for them to gain -- engage in the sort of social spending they would -- they would want to do whether the economy is stalling or not. So this is fundamentally not a stimulus bill. It's a bill to put the United States government spending on entirely different footing.

From the February 2 edition of The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: OK, so does -- Obama seems to understand that now that some press organizations, not many -- most are just rubber-stamping because they don't care. They want a big government. They want the Democrats to set up an entitlement society. But I think Barack Obama understands now where he is in history. He's got one shot, as I said. And if he doesn't get a lot of money flowing into the economy quickly, it's going to be very bad for him. For him. So --

GINGRICH: Yeah, I mean, I think -- look, he's very smart. And I think he's beginning to realize that if this bill doesn't get changed dramatically in the Senate, if it doesn't have more tax cuts, if it doesn't shift money out of welfare into real infrastructure and out of political pork barrel into real job development, he's going to have hanging around the entire administration a failed bill by, oh, April or May. And it's pretty rapidly going to become the Obama recession.

O'REILLY: OK, now --

GINGRICH: I mean, he has a very brief period to get this turned around.

O'REILLY: Doesn't Nancy Pelosi get that? I mean, is she not smart enough to get that?

GINGRICH: No.

From the February 2 edition of MSNBC Live:

BREWER: I know that the -- that Senator McConnell is going to speak again in about 90 minutes. How does it help the two parties reach consensus if the Republican leader is saying the president should be embarrassed about this bill?

BARRASSO: Well, Contessa, I think there's great concern about this bill all across America. You know, we want to stimulate the economy. We want to make things start moving again, and that's not what's happening with this. This looks like a lot of pent-up projects, things people have wanted to spend money on for years. We've asked for -- the president has asked for shovel-ready projects, and all this thing does is shovel the money out the door. There's more money in this bill right now for welfare and for unemployment benefits, than there is for the things that we're supposed to be dealing with -- highways, roads and also bridges.

BREWER: When you're talking to your Democratic colleagues, do you -- are you looking in particular at them and saying, why are you putting in these other non-related, non-stimulus items? I mean, do they have a ready answer for you?

BARRASSO: They don't have a ready answer for me, and that's exactly what I'm asking them. I'm saying, if you want to do some of these projects, bring them up as part of the regular budget process. There may be some value in some of these, but not as an emergency package, a stimulus package to try to deal with this economy.

From the February 4 edition of NPR's Day to Day:

STEPHEN MOORE (Wall Street Journal senior economics writer): I think that the more that the American people are learning about what's actually inside this near trillion-dollar bill, the more they're disgusted by it.

ALEX COHEN (host): Stephen Moore is one of the authors of the book, The End of Prosperity. He's also the senior economics writer for The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. He takes issue with the stimulus package from a conservative prospective.

MOORE: Most of the spending in this bill has very little to do with economic stimulus or creating jobs. A lot of it is just political payback to Democrat interest groups like the unions and ACORN and organizations like that. There's also hundreds of billions of dollars for welfare programs. Now, that might be something we want to do when people lose their jobs, to provide them with welfare assistance, but that's certainly not a job creator. In fact, if anything, it keeps people out of jobs. So, I think that the other aspect of it that has really angered people is the amount of traditional kind of pork spending in the bill that has no place in a stimulus bill, everything from money for the National Endowment for the Arts, a newer sewer system in Washington, D.C., and on and on and on.

From the February 4 edition of MSNBC's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with David Shuster:

SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR): I think you're asking about in Oklahoma City. But the basic point is that there is no economic multiplier like well-targeted investments in roads and bridges and transportation systems.

You look at somebody like [economist Mark] Zandi at Moody's, he has consistently said that, if you're going to wring the maximum value out of the stimulus dollar, it is well-targeted investments in roads and bridges and transportation systems -- I'm willing to work with some of those that we're lucky enough to have as fiscal hawks like Tom Coburn to make sure that we wring every possible cent of value out of the stimulus dollar.

BRZEZINSKI: All right. But again, when we look at -- and Senator Coburn, I'll ask you this. I don't see how jobs will be created by welfare programs. And I also am not sure about these tax breaks that the Republicans want. What do we know will actually stimulate the economy? And what in this bill defines "stimulus?"

COBURN: Well, I don't think there is a definition in this bill. That's part of the big problem with it. We know things that can be stimulatory, things that we know we're going to buy anyway and we advance the purchase on it -- resetting the military, roads and bridges. We have 243,000 bridges that are dangerous in this country today. We can -- and a good portion of those we can fix. We have sewer projects. There's no question we can do that.

As far as telling the people of Tulsa -- they know me. I'm not about to vote for anything that isn't a priority for this country or won't solve the problem. So half of what they're going to want I'm not going to support, and they know that.

From the February 4 edition of Hannity:

POWERS: Forty percent of the bill is tax cuts. I mean, you guys are acting like there are no tax cuts in it.

HANNITY: No, it's not. No, it's not.

POWERS: Yes, it is.

HANNITY: No, no, no. It's not -- first of all, it's tax cuts if you define a tax cut as a welfare payment for people that don't get -- they're saying that people that don't pay taxes are going to get a tax cut. I call that welfare. Let's call it what it is.

POWERS: You can have a --

BILL CUNNINGHAM (radio talk-show host): One hundred billion dollars is going to people that don't pay taxes. Is that a tax cut if you --

POWERS: They act like -- I feel like I'm, like, being surrounded. I know, but look, I mean, John McCain had the same types of tax cuts in his --

HANNITY: No, no, no. Answer Bill's question here. If you don't pay taxes -- is that important?

POWERS: Yes.

HANNITY: If you don't pay taxes, and you get, quote, what they're calling a tax cut, isn't that welfare? Let's be honest. Why are we lying to the American people?

POWERS: No, I don't think it's welfare. I think you can have, like, a tax rebate. You can have --

HANNITY: But you don't pay them. But they don't pay them.

POWERS: -- John McCain had that in his health care plan. I think you can --

STEVE SAX (former major league baseball player): Let me ask you a question. Let's say -- I understand the compassionate part at work, which Obama wants to exhibit in this plan. But let's take an example, if you have somebody that's on the side of the street. He doesn't pay taxes, but you're going to give you a rebate. Now, the guy that's leaning against that building that doesn't work, inside that building, he owns a business. He's going to create 10 to 12 jobs that year. Are you going to give him the -- are you going to give him a tax break or are you going to give the other guy a rebate? It's compassion and reality that really matters.

POWERS: It's not -- it's not an either/or. But it's not an either/or. Just -- you're opposed -- they're not the only people getting a tax break. I mean, there are tax breaks for all sorts of people.

From the February 5 edition of CNBC's The Kudlow Report:

KUDLOW: Well, that's the thing that seems to be missing. I mean, look, I had Senator McCain on the other night. He want -- his plan would restore Gramm-Rudman after signs of recovery appear. Senator Tom Coburn was in The Wall Street Journal. Coburn says, "Why isn't there a single program elimination in all this?" Various budget studies have shown $300 billion of programs don't work, not a nickel of those eliminations are in there. And, sir, you know, social spending, I mean, Medicaid, state assistance, welfare -- this could be built into the baseline. None of this has to do with economic growth. We could have a separate vote on social spending, but this isn't economic growth.

From the February 6 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

CHRIS MATTHEWS (host): Yeah, I know. But what about Billy McCoy, your House speaker down there? He says you need the money. He can't -- he says he's incredulous -- or somebody said he said you're incredulous -- he's incredulous that you would stand against getting this money in the coffers of the state treasury.

BARBOUR: Well, of course, I can't speak for the speaker, and wouldn't -- wouldn't try to. But I will tell you, there are things in the bill like this. They talk about -- and David Axelrod, who, by the way, I greatly admire -- I think he's one of the great political operatives of all time in our country and anywhere else -- David mentioned unemployment. Well, this bill, according to the advocates for the bill, would let Mississippi have $54 million of additional money for unemployment. The only problem is, when you read the details, we get $3.9 million of that for what we do now. And to get the other $50 million, we have to expand unemployment to let people collect unemployment that have never been eligible in our -- in our state, including people who aren't willing to take a full-time job. Now, there's way too much of that in this bill, social policy, to the point it -- it's kind of welfare state 3.0.

MATTHEWS: What do you mean by -- I thought you had to be able to -- when you go to unemployment, you go down to the desk, you tell them what you can do, and they find a job for you. You're saying that that's not a requirement under this new system?

BARBOUR: That's right. In Mississippi today, if you go to -- say you're unemployed, we try to help you find a job. Until you can find a job, get offered a job, we pay you unemployment. But you have to be willing to accept a full-time job in order to be paid unemployment. This law, this bill, the stimulus package, would change that and would require Mississippi to get this $50 million, to change our law.

From the February 6 edition of Hannity:

SCHOEN: And I think in part [unintelligible], Chris is right. Forty-two percent of the bill is tax cuts. We're going to provide stimulus to lower-income Americans. We're going to give people more cash.

HANNITY: It's welfare. No, no, welfare as we know it is beginning again. An era of big government just started today.

SOPHIA NELSON (attorney): Well, but here is my concern. But I tried to bring this home earlier. If people like me, the attorneys, the doctors, the engineers, et cetera, are losing their jobs -- look at Wall Street has been hit very hard, the finance sector. Those are the people that you tax. Those are the rich. I'm the rich, by the way. I'm not, but that's what they call me. And so my point is --

HANNITY: No, the Kennedys are the rich.

NELSON: What I'm saying, if you drive -- if you drive people -- if those folks are losing jobs -- Obama's bill, and I support the president. I want him to do well. That bill is not going to help put this economy back on track. Not as it is.

HANNITY: Look, I have a whole page here of pork barrel in this bill. You explain to me how Frisbee parks and golf courses and -- and a new welfare program, how does that -- how does that -- how does that stimulate the economy?

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