A Fox News host dismissed the threat of furloughs from automatic budget cuts known as sequestration as a "convenient excuse" that allows agency heads to exaggerate the effects of the cuts. However, hundreds of workers have already been laid off due to the budget cuts and more are likely to be fired or furloughed if the cuts continue.
ICE director John Morton faced criticism From Republicans during a House hearing on Tuesday where he testified about the budget decisions ICE made to avoid furloughs. Fox & Friends host Alisyn Camerota dismissed Morton's explanation of his difficult choices as a "handy and convenient excuse," and downplayed the threat of furloughs and layoffs:
This is just what you constantly hear now with sequester. It's either this or furlough. It's either this or laying off. We don't want to take money out of the pockets of workers, and that is a handy and convenient excuse when, you know, you end up not cutting something that people think is expendable.
But local reports from around the country demonstrate that many Americans are already dealing with the serious repercussions of sequestration. Thousands of workers face pay cuts as high as 20% as a result of sequester-induced forced time off, or furloughs. Many more have already experienced layoffs. Citing other news reports, the Huffington Post highlighted several examples of layoffs and furloughs around the country:
On Monday, 250 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state received pink slips, while another 2,500 others found out they're facing furloughs. Approximately 9,000 people work at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site, and the Associated Press reports that "cleanup is likely to be slowed" because of the budget cuts.
Continental Maritime, a contractor that repairs U.S. Navy ships, expects to lay off 185 employees, effective April 12. Other contractors have issued conditional layoff notices -- meaning that jobs are safe if Congress restores some funding to the Defense Department -- to thousands of employees.
Four-hundred eighteen contract workers tied to the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania are losing their jobs due to sequestration. Two-hundred sixteen people will be dismissed on April 15 and 107 on April 30, the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., reports. The paper noted that the Tobyhanna Army Depot is losing 35 percent -- $309 million -- of its government funding through the end of the fiscal year, and that more than 5,100 of the people who work there are being forced to take 22 furlough days.
At least eight municipal employees in Monterey County, Calif., are losing their jobs as a result of a decrease in the number of military contracts.
In early March, 23 people who work with the parks and recreation and maintenance departments in Tooele County, Utah, were laid off in order to grapple with the federal budget cuts. "I have four kids. This is my livelihood," said Scott Chance, a 12-year employee. "It pays my health insurance. It gives me my house."
Engineering Services Network is an engineering and technology company and one of the top Latino-owned companies in Virginia. President and CEO Raymond Lopez Jr. told NBC Latino that he has "lost about 20 employeesthrough sequestration."
The Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, announced in February that it was cutting 414 jobs -- about 10 percent of its workforce. "I don't know how we're going to make it," Raymond Wyrick, whose last day was scheduled to be March 9, told CNN Money.
Fox News host Alisyn Camerota falsely claimed "your premiums are going to double" under the new health care law, when in fact potential increases would only affect a small portion of the insured population and would be partially offset by tax credits.
On Fox & Friends, Camerota cited an Associated Press report on health insurance reform and claimed it showed "your premiums are going to double and that your bills could double, this is really stunning news for lots of Americans."
But the Associated Press report found that the potential increases in health care premiums would affect "a relatively small slice of the insured population" and that the new policies are expected to reduce health care costs for many. The report also found that tax credits will offset some of the increases, particularly for young adults:
There also will be tax credits, or subsidies, given to people with incomes that fall within 400 percent of the federal poverty level. For 2013, 400 percent of the poverty level for all states except Alaska and Hawaii would be $94,200. These credits won't lower premiums, but they can ease the insurance bill depending on a person's income.
The credits should help the 20-something customers that insurers warn will see big premium hikes, said Linda Blumberg, an economist with the Health Policy Center of the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan policy research organization.
"While these folks are potentially facing some premium increases due to all these reforms, they also are the ones most likely to get the financial help from the exchanges," she said.
Fox & Friends questioned the authenticity of President Obama's most recent outreach to Republicans while ignoring GOP leaders' numerous rebukes of the president's past attempts to reach across the aisle.
In a widely publicized March 12 article, The National Journal's Ron Fournier questioned the sincerity of Obama's current outreach to Congressional Republicans, including dining with GOP senators and visiting Capitol Hill. Fournier quoted an anonymous senior White House official as describing the president's efforts as a "joke" and a waste of time.
On March 13, Fox & Friends seized on the article to question whether Obama was sincere in his efforts to reach out to Republicans. Co-host Steve Doocy came to the conclusion that Obama isn't actually serious about this latest bipartisan effort:
DOOCY: We've been speculating, what was the motivation for this charm offensive? Well now, thanks to Ron Fournier of National Journal, we know that it is simply a tactic. The president of the United States is not serious about actually reaching across the aisle, but he saw that his poll numbers were imploding thanks to the sequester.
In the same segment, guest co-host Alisyn Camerota emphasized the importance of outreach that the president has supposedly neglected:
CAMEROTA: That's what you're supposed to do! You're supposed to go and meet with your adversaries so that you can work out some sort of bargain.
But Fox made no mention of the fact that this is not the first time that Obama has reached out to -- and been rebuffed by -- Republican leaders:
Fox News is emphasizing the decline in violent crime and murder rates since the 1990s to oppose calls for laws to prevent gun violence. But recent reporting indicates that the number of gunshot wounds has actually increased in recent years and that the lower homicide rate is partly due to improved care for gunshot victims.
In The Washington Post, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer admitted that right-to-work laws lead to lower wages for workers -- conflicting with the narrative promoted by Fox News that such laws increase wages.
In his column, Krauthammer claimed that recently passed right-to-work laws in Michigan were "inevitable" and that "the entire Rust Belt will eventually follow because the heyday of the sovereign private-sector union is gone." Krauthammer wrote that such laws could possibly bring down unemployment, but he also admitted that President Obama's statement that right-to-work laws give workers "the right to work for less money" was correct:
Principle and hypocrisy aside, however, the president's statement has some validity. Let's be honest: Right-to-work laws do weaken unions. And de-unionization can lead to lower wages.
Obama calls this a race to the bottom. No, it's a race to a new equilibrium that tries to maintain employment levels, albeit at the price of some modest wage decline. It is a choice not to be despised.
I have great admiration for the dignity and protections trade unionism has brought to American workers. I have no great desire to see the private-sector unions defenestrated.
Fox News host Alisyn Camerota twice propagated the false claim that workers in so-called "right-to-work" states make $7,000 more a year than those in states without right-to-work laws. In fact, average wages in states with right-to-work laws are lower than those without.
Guest-hosting the December 11 edition of Fox News' America Live, Camerota said to guest Leslie Marshall during a discussion of a right-to-work law in Michigan: "The president said something that was possibly incorrect yesterday. He said that it's legislation like this that will lower workers' wages, when in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics in their latest report say that it's the right-to-work states where workers' wages are higher, on average $49,000 versus $42,000. Here are the statistics. So the president was actually inaccurate when he said that this would lower workers' wages."
Camerota's claim, however, is false. According to a June 20 Congressional Research Service report on right-to-work laws, the average annual wage in right-to-work states is $42,465, compared with $49,495 in "union security" states.
Meanwhile, a graphic that appeared during Camerota's interview actually got the numbers correct:
From the December 11 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the December 11 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the November 19 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox & Friends Saturday speculated that politics had motivated revisions to an early set of Obama administration talking points about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Yet a Fox correspondent reported Friday night that some lawmakers said the changes were made to protect classified information.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used the talking points during September 16 appearances on the Sunday news shows, and Fox News has since sought to scandalize those interviews and use them as ammunition in a campaign to prevent her from being nominated as secretary of state.
On Fox & Friends Saturday, the co-hosts discussed Friday's closed-door congressional testimony of former CIA director David Petraeus and the revelation that in talking points about the attack, language suggesting the perpetrators belonged to Al Qaeda affiliates had been changed to refer more generally to "extremists."
At the beginning of the segment, co-host Dave Briggs said, "[T]here are a lot of questions after what Petraeus told Congress. Because we still don't know why exactly the talking points were changed. He said on Friday that he knew it was terrorism from the very start." Later, the co-hosts speculated that the White House had edited the talking points for political reasons:
MORRIS: By the way, we'll be speaking to Peter King coming up a little later to try to find out who in the administration, then, got the intelligence information in their hands and said, "OK, here the intelligence community says 'Al Qaeda.' Now, let's get the eraser out. Let's change it to 'extremists,' because somehow now we don't want to classify it as Al Qaeda," when it was glaring to General Petraeus and these other intelligence officers?
BRIGGS: And there's also the question of why change it. If -- and I mean, look --
MORRIS: To keep with that narrative?
BRIGGS: It begs the question, did they want to keep that narrative that the war on terror was being won, that Al Qaeda had been crushed?
Yet on the Friday broadcast of The Five, homeland security correspondent Catherine Herridge reported that while Republicans said the talking points change was "an effort to downplay or minimize the role of terrorists in the Benghazi attack," Democrats say that "these changes were not driven by politics, they were simply made to protect classified information."
Fox's K.T. McFarland claimed that no additional forces were sent to help Americans at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, while it was attacked and claimed that this was "probably a political decision." But before McFarland made her claims on Fox, State Department officials had already said that when agents in the compound requested aid during the attack, additional forces from both Benghazi and Tripoli responded.
From the October 2 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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From the September 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News host Mike Huckabee argued today that creating jobs for teachers for the sake of boosting U.S. employment would be "nonsensical." In doing so, he ignored the sustained massive layoffs of teachers across the country since the end of the recession and the subsequent ramifications. In fact, there is every need to hire teachers during this recovery and not just because "you want to make some jobs," as Huckabee claimed.
Huckabee was responding to comments by President Obama calling on Republicans to pass his jobs plan, which Obama said "could create a million new jobs right now," including jobs for teachers and construction workers. Huckabee replied by saying:
HUCKABEE: The federal government doesn't hire teachers. Where do teachers get hired? Local school boards. Education is a local function not a federal function. It is not the job of the federal government to hire teachers.
And the other question is: Do you hire teachers 'cause you just want to make some jobs or do you hire teachers 'cause you actually need them 'cause you have more kids in the classroom than you had last year? That's a nonsensical kind of approach to job creation -- let's make some work, and let's just go into more debt to do it.
In fact, Obama was not asking the federal government to hire teachers; he was accurately noting the role government can play in staving off public sector job losses, which experts contend have played an especially detrimental role in swelling unemployment. From the Wall Street Journal:
The unemployment rate would be far lower if it hadn't been for those cuts: If there were as many people working in government as there were in December 2008, the unemployment rate in April would have been 7.1%, not 8.1%.
Ceteris is rarely paribus, of course: If there were more government jobs now, for example, it's likely that not as many people would have left the labor force, and so the actual unemployment rate would be north of 7.1%.
According to the Hamilton Project, teachers accounted for 220,000 of these public sector job loses from 2009 to 2011, a decline of 5.6 percent.
The Economy Policy Institute estimated that had the Jobs Act been enacted, "[a]id to state governments for rehiring teachers and first responders would have boosted employment by an additional 210,000 jobs," and that "[i]n total, full passage of the American Jobs Act would have increased employment by more than 1.6 million jobs."
Fox is pushing a Romney campaign falsehood that President Obama rather than Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) plans to gut Medicare as we know it.
Ryan has received strong criticism for his plan to transform Medicare into a voucher system. Trying to deflect the attacks on Ryan's plan, Fox contributor Angela McGlowan claimed that Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) cuts hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare.
In fact, the savings the ACA makes to the Medicare program would not cause a decline in quality of care under Medicare, and Ryan has proposed identical savings. But Ryan's plan goes much further, ending Medicare as we know it by transforming it into a voucher plan.
From Fox & Friends Sunday:
McGLOWAN: Obama cut $700 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare. With the Ryan plan, it keeps people who are 55 and over on their plan now, so they don't have to worry about that. So this ad saying he would hurt the elderly -- his plan would actually keep it in place.
McGlowan's claim that the ACA cuts Medicare is false. An August 12 ABC News post explained that the supposed "cuts" to Medicare was the slowing of the growth of the program by ACA. Even Fox News Sunday guest host John Roberts explained that over a ten year period the ACA "would slow the growth of Medicare, I want to be very clear about that, not cut Medicare, but slow the growth by $500 billion."
Gail Wilensky, a former administrator of the Medicare program under George H. W. Bush, made clear in a June 28 Bloomberg article, "there are no reductions in the Medicare benefits promised in the law." In a June 28 post FactCheck.org similarly concluded that the ACA "stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits won't be reduced."