Fox's Dishonest Handling Of Whether Americans Are "Better Off" Than They Were

››› ››› CHELSEA RUDMAN

On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace advanced Mitt Romney's claim that Americans can't say they are better off than they were four years ago. Wallace ignored that economists have said the economy has indeed improved since President Obama took office following the worst economic quarter in decades, and that his policies have helped create millions of jobs.

Romney At Convention: Americans Cannot Say They  Are "Better Off Today Than [They] Were Four Years Ago"

Romney Charges That Obama Cannot Tell Americans, "You Are Better Off Today Than You Were Four Years Ago." From Mitt Romney's August 30 speech at the Republican National Convention accepting the presidential nomination:

It's the genius of the American free enterprise system - to harness the extraordinary creativity and talent and industry of the American people with a system that is dedicated to creating tomorrow's prosperity rather than trying to redistribute today's.

That is why every president since the Great Depression who came before the American people asking for a second term could look back at the last four years and say with satisfaction: "you are better off today than you were four years ago."

Except Jimmy Carter. And except this president.

This president can ask us to be patient.

This president can tell us it was someone else's fault.

This president can tell us that the next four years he'll get it right.

But this president cannot tell us that YOU are better off today than when he took office. [Romney convention address, 8/30/12, emphasis original, via Business Insider]

Fox's Wallace Forwards Romney's "Better Off" Attack On President Obama

Wallace Airs, Hypes Romney's "Better Off" Attack In Interview With Obama Adviser Axelrod. During an interview with Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace aired the clip of Romney claiming that Americans cannot say they are "better off today than [they] were four years ago." Wallace then asked Axelrod:

WALLACE: David, can you honestly say that the average American is better off today than they were four years ago?

After Axelrod responded by citing improvement in the economy since late 2008 and criticizing Mitt Romney's economic proposals, Wallace replied:  

WALLACE: But you keep talking about Romney. I'd like to talk about the Obama record, and I want to put some statistics up on the screen. Unemployment was 7.8 percent when the president took office -- it's now 8.3 percent. Median household income was almost $55,000. It's now less than $51,000. Gas was $1.85 a gallon when he took office -- now it's $3.78, almost double. The national debt was $10.6 trillion, and it may go past $16 trillion this week. So just looking at the president's record and those statistics, David, is the average American better off than four years ago? 

As Wallace read the statistics, the following graphic was aired:

[Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 9/2/12]

But The Economy Has Improved Since Obama Took Office ...

Economist Dean Baker: Claim That The Economy Isn't Improving Is "Silly Nonsense." On the February 4 broadcast of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio, economist Dean Baker said Fox host Sean Hannity's claim that "you can't say the economy is improving" was "silly nonsense." Baker continued: "The economy was in a state of free fall when President Obama took office ... We were losing 700,000 jobs a month, that was the reality. You can't blame President Obama for it, that was the day he took office." He concluded that since then, "The economy has grown and we've seen unemployment fall." [SiriusXM, Media Matters Radio, 2/4/12]

THEN: Months Before Obama Took Office Saw Largest Economic Contraction In A Half Century. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that gross domestic product declined at an 8.9 percent annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2008 -- the final quarter before President Obama took office. According to IHS Global Insight, GDP decline at the end of 2008 "represents the worst single-quarter decline in GDP since the 10.4 percent drop in the first quarter of 1958." ["Latest GDP Report Shows U.S. Recession Was Deeper and Recovery More Anemic Than Previously Thought," IHS Global Insight, 7/29/11]

NOW: The Economy Has Grown For 12 Consecutive Quarters. In an "Economic Recovery Watch" post updated on August 30, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) wrote that although "the pace of recovery has been modest," the economy "has been growing for 12 straight quarters." The post included this chart:

["Chart Book: The Legacy of the Great Recession," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, updated 8/30/12]

THEN: Nearly 2 Million Jobs Were Lost In Three Months Before Obama Took Office. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment decreased by 803,000 jobs in November 2008, 661,000 jobs in December 2008, and 818,000 jobs in January 2009 -- a total of 2.2 million jobs in three months. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed 9/2/12]

NOW: Private Sector Employment Has Grown For 29 Months Adding Millions Of Jobs. In the same post, CBPP noted that "private employers [have] added nearly 4.5 million jobs to their payrolls in the last 29 months, an average of 157,000 jobs a month." The post included the following chart:

["Chart Book: The Legacy of the Great Recession," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, updated 8/30/12]

Dow Jones Has Nearly Doubled Since Low Point In March 2009. According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased 99 percent from its low of 6547.05 on March 9, 2009; the Dow closed at 13000.71 on August 30.

A graph of the bank's data shows that the Dow has mostly increased over the past three and a half years:

[Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed 9/2/12, 9/2/12]

... And Economists Credit Obama's Policies For Economic Improvement

CBPP: "GDP Has Been Higher Each Year Since 2009 Than It Would Have Been Without The Recovery Act." The CBPP post also featured a chart showing real GDP alongside the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) estimates of what GDP would have been without the stimulus:

["Chart Book: The Legacy of the Great Recession," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, updated 8/30/12]

CBPP: Because Of Stimulus, "The Unemployment Rate Has Been Lower Each Year Since 2009 Than It Otherwise Would Have Been." The CBPP also featured a chart showing the unemployment rate alongside CBO estimates of what the unemployment rate would have been without the stimulus bill:

["Chart Book: The Legacy of the Great Recession," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, updated 8/30/12]

Congressional Budget Office: Stimulus Boosted Economy By Up To 4.1 Percent In 2010, 2.3 Percent In 2011. In its May 2012 report, the CBO estimated that the Recovery Act increased real GDP by between .7 percent and 4.1 percent in 2010, and by between .4 percent and 2.3 percent in 2011. ["Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from January 2012 Through March 2012," Congressional Budget Office, May 2012]

CBO: Stimulus Created Equivalent Of Up To 4.7 Million Jobs In 2010, Up To 3.6 Million In 2011. The May 2012 CBO report also found that the stimulus created the equivalent of between 900,000 and 4.7 million jobs in 2010 and the equivalent of between 600,000 and 3.6 million jobs in 2011. ["Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from January 2012 Through March 2012," Congressional Budget Office, May 2012]

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
Network/Outlet
FOX Broadcasting Company
Person
Chris Wallace
Show/Publication
FOX News Sunday
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.